As our loved ones age, it’s important to make them feel as comfortable and safe as possible, not only for their own well-being but for your peace of mind as well. Fortunately, there are several products and projects that can help assist your parents in their home as they age.
To start, go from room to room through your parents’ home and make a list of improvements in order of importance. Some may be quick and DIY, while others require professional installation or assistance. Also, keep in mind that when it comes to accommodating their day-to-day routine and comfort level, you might accidentally overlook key aspects of what might be most helpful. Engage in an open conversation with your parents and ask them where they would like to see changes most.
The at-home project ideas showcased below range in time and expense, but we believe any independent living investment for your parents is well worth it.
Set up an in-home monitoring service. This will allow everyone to worry less about their older relatives at home alone. This is a fairly easy solution because many burglar alarms also have features for in-home monitoring. Cost: Three sensors for $399 and monthly pricing starting at $69 a month at BeClose.com.
Switch to remote-controlled blinds. While these are not cheap, opening and closing normal blinds can be difficult for those with limited mobility. Cost: According to CostOwl.com, an average 36-inch by 48-inch motorized window shade or blind costs between $300 and $600. Installation costs are usually around $20 to $50 per blind.
Install peepholes and intercom system. These additions offer a bit more security, allowing you to see and talk with whomever is outside the door without opening it. Cost: A peephole can range from $20-$40; an intercom system can be found at stores like Best Buy starting at $99.99.
Install a stair lift. This can be a fairly expensive project, as lifts typically require a custom fitting to the staircase. However, the investment is a great one for those who can’t easily make it up stairs. Cost: Depending on the make and model, stair lifts can range from $3,000 all the way up to $10,000. Additionally, the estimated labor to install a stair lift averages between $400 and $500.
Purchase stair treads. If you can’t afford an elevator or stair lift, or if your loved one is still able to use the stairs, installing treads is an affordable way to prevent slipping. You may also want to consider putting brightly colored tape on the edges of the stairs to clearly mark where each step ends. Cost: You can find non-slip treads starting at $10. The bright, removable tape can be purchased for $30 or less.
Add a disability ramp. This is moderately expensive home project, but it’s is a must if either of your parents is wheelchair-bound or has difficulty climbing the stairs leading up to the house. Information about home contractors can be found on HomeAdvisor.com. Cost: Disability ramps may range from $1,400 to $2,000.
Make cordless phones available. Having a cordless phone in each room is important in case of emergency, so you’re loved one can easily call for help if needed — or simply not have to trek to another room to answer the phone. Cost: Stores like Target have cordless phones with two handsets starting at $29.99.
Increase in-home lighting. This home project will ensure there is better visibility to maneuver between furniture and rooms. Cost: Motion-activated, plugin wall lights start at under $15 at stores like Home Depot.
Replace smoke/fire alarms. Not all fire alarms are set at a frequency and volume that seniors can hear. Buying the right alarm can mean the difference between life and death. Cost: You can find fire alarms for the hearing-impaired online starting at $50.
Purchase electric, easy-to-use appliances. This may seem like a small and insignificant change, but electric appliances can help those with arthritis continue to cook for themselves. A blender, toaster oven, and other smaller appliances can allow your parents to get creative cooking without having to use the stove or oven too often. Cost: This will vary depending on the appliance; check your favorite home good store for options.
Swap out traditional doorknobs with lever handles. Levers are easier to open than traditional, round doorknobs. This is an easy and inexpensive project to start with if you’re not sure how to tackle your to-do list. Cost: Varies per materials, levers start at $2.95 at Home Depot.
Add grab bars in the bathroom. These are inexpensive and can help someone unsteady feel more confident. Cost: Grab bars may range from $20 to $40.
Invest in a walk-in tub. Standing in a shower can be taxing, and climbing in and out of a regular tub can be tricky for those with mobility challenges. Help prevent slips and falls — and offer a touch of luxury, at the same time — with a walk-in tub. Cost: Walk-in tub costs can vary depending on your bathroom setup, size, and specific needs — our tub specialists will walk you through the options during your no-cost, no-obligation in-home evaluation.
Secure all rugs and carpets to the floor. Rugs and carpets can be problematic for aging adults, leading to slips and trips on the lifted edges. Check for loose edges and bumps that could easily lead to falls. Cost: Stores like Bed Bath and Beyond sell stick-on grips to prevent slipping or lifting for $12.99.
Safety precautions are paramount as our parents continue to age. Even seemingly small changes around the home can make a huge difference and will allow your parents to live independently in their home longer. After all, the cost of home projects is nothing compared to the value of helping your parents stay in the place where they feel safest and the most comfortable.