Design For Aging Parents

  Retired elderly couple cooking food together in the kitchen

How many times have we worried about our parents living alone in the big “family home?”  Or maybe it’s not that big, but we worry anyway?  Since most houses have been built for growing families and not growing old, staying in the home that we love, in the community we’re familiar with, gradually becomes a problem for us.

Master suites are on the second floor requiring many stairs to climb.  Laundry rooms are in the basement, where we face even more stairs…and the poor lighting is often the norm.

Our parents want to remain independent, and we want this for them too.  But often this requires making modifications to their home that they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge even if it would make life easier and more convenient.    Because, after all, who wants to admit that they aren’t as “quick on their feet” as they once were?

Are they still active and want to make these decisions for themselves?  Do they resent the fact that you’re concerned and turn down any ideas that you come up with?  This seems to be a common complaint from the adult children I’ve spoken with.  But I guess that if the roles were reversed, I would feel the same way.  Who wants to be told by their children how to live their life and where to live it?

There are 5 levels of dependence that each require different methods of care.

1.  Still active and independent – appreciate the concern but want you to stay out of it and let them live their life, even if you can see some ways to modify their home to make life easier and more convenient

2.  They recognize a need for modification and are beginning to feel less confident or secure living as they have been

3.  Assisted living or nursing care has been agreed upon and the family home needs to be modified, redecorated, or staged to sell

4.  Your parent has decided to move to a smaller home in an active adult community, independent care, or assisted living community and needs help with the downsizing process.  There’s a lifetime of  possessions to sort through, redistribute, move, and set up in their new home.

5.  Your parents are moving into your home and you need to make modifications or remodel to make life comfortable for everyone.

In which of these groups does your parent fall?