The holidays are just around the corner, and often as a guest in your parent’s home, you still will most likely be obligated to clean, cook, and entertain the rest of the extended family, as if it were your own party. There are plenty of things to think about while the whirlwind of the holidays approach, but this would be a perfect opportunity to observe the way your parents maneuver through their home and how to make their living space more accommodating of their changing needs.
You might consider observing how they get up the stairs. Is it with ease or does it take some time and intention? Is it dark, slippery, or without any grab bars? Is there a lot of clutter that could become a hazard? These small items could result in a dangerous situation. Getting older is difficult on your mind as well as your body. It’s tough to admit that extra help and time is necessary to complete daily tasks. Add stubbornness to denial and conversations about modifications to age in place can be difficult. But if you have ever heard a friend ask if your parents will move into “one of those homes,” the reality of the topic becomes present. Modifications to age in place can prolong the time that parents are able to stay in their current home and delay moving into an assisted living facility or nursing home if there aren’t significant underlying medical conditions.
The Home Builders Association and AARP created a program for builders called Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS). This program helps builders learn how to plan, remodel, and construct homes for the elderly focusing on
individual needs as people age. A few examples of what these builders do are raising toilets to lessen difficulty of standing, widen doorways to get through if a wheelchair is eventually needed, install pull-out drawers for easy-to-reach access, and create no-step entryways. This program focuses on the necessities of the owners needs with a positive approach. “The aging Baby Boomer population in the United States is forcing the issue: we must invest in better approaches to long term care,” states David Greco, VP of Nonprofit Finance Fund.
When discussing with your parents about their personal desire to continue living in their home there are a few questions you should ask:
- How important is it to stay near family and friends?
- How important is it to be close to familiar places?
- Is the cost of modifying the home a large contributor to your decision?
- Could you afford to modify your home? And how much would you be willing to invest?
- How comfortable are you with moving to a new place?
These questions would allow you to understand their preferences. The ability to stay in a place where you are familiar is necessary for a positive, mental outlook about life for many older adults. Being able to talk to neighbors and trust them promotes holistic well being and encourages them to be responsible. Studies have shown that aging in place advances brain functioning by having the responsibility of chores. To read more about this please click here. Chores force you to think about daily tasks like bills, laundry, and pets; keeping your mind moving.
A few other factors to consider are the amenities located around your parent’s home. If they are in a conventional suburb it is likely that they won’t be able to walk to the nearest grocery store. In some communities, there are services that provide the elder population with rides to doctor’s appointments, picking up groceries, and services like shoveling the walkway, if the neighbors aren’t able to volunteer some time to help them.
Talking about aging in place with your parents creates an opportunity to be proactive. Use the holidays as a source of learning to benefit you and your family.
Click here to find a CAPS builder near you. IACED also offers CAPS training, made possible through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA). Please check the training calendar often for the 2014 CAPS training date.