Whether your elderly parents are still living on their own, or are with you or another family member, the top priority is, of course, their safety and well-being.
Addressing this also has to include you having some peace of mind that things have been set up to best serve their desire to live inter-dependently as long as possible in their own homes. In other words, they wish to age in place amongst familiar settings, personal effects collected over a lifetime, and the fond memories they bring.
The desire to age in place needs to be balanced with making sure you help co-create a home environment for them they’ll be happy with, and that will be able to support their current needs, and be adaptable to changing circumstances over time.
The best starting point is to review the different systems needed to run your parents’ household. In some instances, there’s even an added benefit of being able to reduce operating costs. Replacing older appliances with more energy-efficient ones, installing brighter but lower-cost task lighting, and replacing weather stripping around doors and windows are only a few ways in which you can make your parents’ home safer while saving them money.
Upgrading devices such as smoke alarm and carbon monoxide devices no doubt save lives, and lends to your peace of mind. In some jurisdictions, your local fire station will install a new smoke alarm for free.
Installing brighter task lighting contributes to improved visibility and helps minimize accidents. Many seniors’ overall home lighting is often too low, and can also contribute to falls due to reduced depth perception and balance.
New weather stripping and other materials that provide a proper moisture barrier and help prevent heat loss will keep your elderly parent warm and cozy in the colder weather. It’s a simple and very cost-effective way of minimizing them getting sick from a cold and damp season.
Investing in qualified professionals to check your parents’ heating, plumbing and electrical systems can also give you the peace of mind that these systems have been duly serviced, any repairs or replacements done which, in turn, may prevent far more costly and/or safety issues in the future.
If one doesn’t already exist, consider creating a service schedule of these different systems within your parents’ home, and request to receive a reminder notice when these dates are approaching. While your parents may be perfectly able to track these items, it will give you – whether you’re an “official” caregiver or not, further peace of mind that your parents’ home is well attended.
© Nancy Glover | Aging With Grace www.AgingwithGrace.ca
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Nancy Glover, a healthy aging advocate, mentors extraordinary women and men who have stepped into the challenging role of caring for their elderly spouse or parent by managing their well-being in the later stages of life. Blending first-hand expertise with practical step by step systems to support the needs, goals, and desires of the elderly spouse or parent, Nancy helps caregivers maneuver the complex and often challenging role with supportive advocacy and resources that equally focus on everyone’s well-being. Learn more about her at www.agingwithgrace.ca and sign up to receive timely information and strategies to empower caregivers and families in transition.