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Keeping the elderly home

Updated on October 20, 2011
Mom and me getting ready to hit the streets
Mom and me getting ready to hit the streets | Source

Keeping the elderly at home

Many studies have shown that the elderly thrive much better and live longer when in a home environment than when placed in an institutional environment, such as a nursing home or senior center. The very best solution to keeping the elderly home is to have them remain in their own house, surrounded by familiar setting and memories, but there may come a time when this solution is no longer feasible. Perhaps your elderly loved one is becoming forgetful or is a fall risk - you'll have to do something and fast.

The next best solution is to have your elderly move into your own home but this takes some preparation to make the environment safe. My Mom moved into my 157 year old farmhouse on April 7, 2007, the day my Dad died. I promised him I'd take care of her and, lo and behold, she's been taking care of me for 5 years now (not really, I'm much more the caregiver than she is but she still reminds me to put on my shoes...).

Having Mom move in meant that I had to adapt my home to suit her needs. This articles will hopefully give you some ideas and resources about how to do exactly that.

Got stairs?

My Mom has horrible arthritis in her knees so I knew that her days of going up and down steps were over. I had to find a solution. Aha! A stairlift chair to the rescue. In case you're unfamiliar, a stairlift chair is just what it sounds like - it's a chair that one sits on and then will move up and down the steps. My stairwell was so narrow though that a stairlift chair wouldn't go around the corner so I even explored putting in an elevator. So there's 2 solutions right there.

We ended up choosing a stairlift chair - well, 2 stairlift chairs to be exact. Since my stairwell was so narrow, my Mom has to transfer from one chair to the next on the landing. But, this hasn't really slowed her down any.

Caught in bed!
Caught in bed! | Source
Mom still has quite the appetite. She's easy to cook for.
Mom still has quite the appetite. She's easy to cook for.
Killian is trained to help pick up things mom drops, he does the laundry, and shuttles the tv remote between us. Caregivers aren't just human.
Killian is trained to help pick up things mom drops, he does the laundry, and shuttles the tv remote between us. Caregivers aren't just human.

Grab bars - put them all around the house!

Keeping the bathroom safe

Most accidents in the home occur in the bathroom so keeping the elderly safe in the bathroom is paramount to any other task. Luckily, there are a lot of items on the market which will help keep the elderly home and safe in the bathroom too.

We personally use toilet risers and benches in the shower for my Mom. Toilet risers sit on top of the toilet and add from 4-8" to the set. Toilet risers make it much easier to sit down and get up from the toilet. I wish someone had told me about these inventions when I was recovering from knee surgery...

Besides using toilet risers, there are new toilet models on the market which are taller than the standard toilet. I had one of these toilets installed in the downstairs bathroom and everyone comments on it. They're not just for the elderly anymore!

Another great safety item for the elderly is a grab bar. A grab bar attaches to any wall (in a stud so it's sturdy) and allows the elderly a handhold where they need it. They're not just for the bathroom either as I've put grab bars in the hallways to help Mom when she transfers stairlifts and at other strategic spots around the house.

I strongly suggest getting someone who knows what they're doing to install the grab bars - do NOT use the ones with suction cups!!!!!

Some good books on caregiving on

Preparing mentally for keeping the elderly home

It won't be fair to anyone if your entire household is not mentally prepared to bringing the elderly into your home. Frank talks between all people are necessary to make sure that everyone recognizes and is prepared to deal with the challenges of having another person (and one who probably needs daily support) into the home. Caregiving is a tough job and is not for everyone but, if you are dedicated to bringing a senior home, it can be done.

Caregiving is both the toughest and most rewarding job I've ever held. I'm lucky that my Mom is so very easy, even as she approaches 95 (next week!).

Do you have a tip for keeping the elderly home? I'd love to hear from you.

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