Major Home Renovations For Your Elderly Parents: 10 Ways To Help Them Stay Right Where They Are

Getting on in years can be challenging, but the difficulties faced by the elderly shouldn't extend to their homes. This can be one reason they move into assisted living or even nursing homes; however, it doesn't always have to be that way. You, along with the rest of your family, can help your parents stay where they are for as long as possible, with some minor or major renovations to their home.

1. Consider Long-Term Equipment, Such As Walkers And Wheelchairs

Hallways and doorways may need to be widened to make room for walking-assist devices or, possibly, a wheelchair. See that there's plenty of space in each room for maneuvering around, too, no matter if it's with a device or not. While open spaces aren't always the most aesthetically pleasing feature of a home, they can be the safest and most convenient feature for the elderly.

2. Eliminate Excess And Redundancy 

Especially if your parents live in the home they raised you in, there are likely extra rooms that either aren't needed or aren't being put to the best use. For example, if there are two bedrooms downstairs but the master bedroom they use is upstairs, turn the two lower rooms into the larger bedroom they need. Minimize use of the upper rooms, and get rid of anything not in use. 

Consolidating living to the first floor makes life a lot easier, and it may also lower the heating and cooling bills. They'd still have usable space upstairs, such as for guests or storage, only they'd only have to go up there on special or rare occasions.

3. Work Cooperatively With A Contractor, If Cost Is An Inhibitive Factor

Because remodeling your parents' home may be an extensive and expensive operation, it might be necessary for different family members to pitch in. While most people can't do the entirety of the work a professional contractor can do, some can help with cleanup, painting, and other minor aspects of otherwise major projects. Likewise, if anyone in the family has connections with material suppliers, such as wholesale wood, linoleum or lighting, factor that bonus into the financial equation, running all options by the contractor first.

4. Build A Ramp Entrance

At least one main entrance to your parents' home should be completely free of steps and the best-case scenario includes a ramp. Ramps are easier to walk up and down, and they're necessary for the use of wheelchairs. Choose the most convenient entrance, like the one things are most likely carried into, including groceries. 

5. Renovate Floors For Safe Walking

If your parents' home currently consists of different walking surfaces, that could potentially be a hazard — if not now, then at some point in the future. Going from carpet to hardwood doesn't seem precarious to most people, but for the elderly, it can mean being set off balance, especially if they use a cane or walker. At the very least, all floors should be smooth and even, with no tears in linoleum or carpeting and no missing tiles or planks in other flooring.

6. Think About A Stair-Lift Or Elevator

If multiple floors must be used in the home, your parents would greatly benefit from having a stair-lift or elevator, depending on the layout of the home and their budget for renovation. Your parents may have visual impairments that make navigating stairs difficult (now or later on) or be taking medications that can make them less steady on their feet, not to mention the general physical weaknesses that are part of the aging process.

7. Improve The Lighting Wherever Needed

A simple way to improve safety in any elderly home is to improve the lighting. This might be accomplished through installing more overhead lights or a skylight, but either way, it should definitely be considered a top priority.

8. Focus On Safety And Independence In The Bathroom

Retrofitting any home for older occupants must include a thorough assessment of the bathroom, including checking that the height of the toilet is adequate, that there are handrails to assist at every bathroom station and that components aren't dangerously close together. Your parents may benefit from a walk-in shower that has a bench in it, grab-bars installed at various points, and a new floor which doesn't include an array of small and dangerous rugs.

9. Ask The Renovation Contractor About Low Or No-Maintenance Materials

Every alteration made to the home should be low- or no-maintenance to reduce both cost and labor in the future. This shouldn't mean spending exorbitant amounts on materials now, so sit down with the contractor before construction begins, discussing these and other concerns you and your parents may have.

10. Get Creative With Financing The Renovations

There may be different financing options available to your parents, if needed, from veteran's programs to home equity loans to the Section 504 Home Repair Program. Following your consultation with the contractor, you should have a rough estimate upon which to base your parents' financial planning for the remodeling. Especially since the work to be done is needed for health and safety reasons, plenty of programs are there to help.

Renovating a home is a major deal for anyone, but it may be particularly cumbersome to your elderly parents. If possible, have them stay with you and/or other family members until their home is completely renovated. That will make working easier and quicker for the contractor, getting your parents in their new, safer, and more comfortable home sooner, where they can hopefully reside for many happy years.