There comes a time when grandparents become frailer and seem unsteady on their feet. Many have osteoporosis, and almost all have joints that make sitting and rising more difficult. Watching these signs of aging progress can cause other family members to worry about their safety. This often results in a battle of wills because while assisted living might seem a great option to the children and grandchildren, most elderly people want to spend their last days in the home with which they are familiar.
The solution might be to make changes to their existing home that will make it easier for them to navigate and safer for their more fragile bodies. Adapting an existing home to meet the demands of old age is also a greener option. This can be done one step at a time so that wasting materials on a new home is unnecessary. Begin with some of the following adaptations:
For Easier Movement
• To ensure that balance is not a big issue, handrails should be installed along hallways, in bathrooms, and even at the bedside to make raising and lowering the body easier.
• Elderly people have trouble getting in and out of low places, so chairs should have high seats and be quite firm. Replacing at least one chair with a second-hand lift chair is probably a good idea. Have a look on Ebay and Craig’s List, and in the classified ads in your local newspaper. It is possibly to find adjustable chairs that are nearly new and have hardly been used at all, which may otherwise be sent to landfill. An adjustable bed might also make life easier for aging grandparents.
• Ramps may not be needed immediately, but because older people have difficulty lifting their feet, steps can be a problem. Even if beloved grandparents are not in a wheelchair or using a walker presently, a ramp might prevent a fall from stumbling and is easier on the joints.
• Remove any floor rugs or door mats that could be a trip hazard. Rather than throwing these out, try to give them a new home by advertising them for free on the Freecycle website.
• If the home has more than one level, it may be a wise idea to buy a stairlift to help grandparents move safely from one floor to another. The greener solution is to buy a reconditioned stairlift that has been checked for safety by a certified dealer.
For Added Comfort
• Because bending and reaching become more difficult for those with arthritic limbs, all necessities in each room should be moved to a level that is easy to reach. This may mean reorganizing drawers and cabinets or adding more hooks and shelving.
• Seniors with reduced mobility also have a tendency to get colder with age. Rather than turning up the thermostat or buying space heaters, which waste energy, the more eco-friendly solution is to add more insulation to the home.
• Lighting may also be an issue in older homes. As vision dims, elderly people need more light than normal to thread a needle or read a book. Installing new fluorescent bulbs throughout the home will result in great eco-friendly savings and provide good lighting for all activities.
Everyone hates to admit that age is limiting, but there comes a time when safety is better than vanity. Choosing to help grandparents adapt their home is one way to improve their quality of life, and with some forward planning it can be done in a way that is kinder to the environment as well.
This post comes from guest contributor Claire Bradshaw, writer and green living enthusiast. Claire writes for a site that offers advice about stairlifts and she has successfully helped her grandparents adapt their homes in an eco-friendly way.