Wait…I’m Moving Back In With My Parents At Age 58?
In the beginning:
Our caregiving journey began over eight years ago. Mom had/has multiple, complex, health problems. Dad was trying to care for her by himself. Keeping her medications straight, trying to shop and cook–with toast the height of his culinary skills–was beyond him. They were living on lattes and pastries from a nearby specialty store. My mom was so debilitated she couldn’t get out of a chair without help. My dad was overwhelmed but he thought he was doing a good job. His role had never been a caretaker. He was of the “Great Generation.” He went out into the world and earned a living while my mom tended hearth and home. It was common during my growing up years.
A year earlier, my husband and I purchased a plot of land in a rural area near Mt Rainier. My parents purchased another plot nearby and immediately began building their “dream house” at the tender age of 83. Our plan was to build later after selling our current home. Midway through construction my mom, already partially blind, lost all her eyesight except for some peripheral shadows. She couldn’t pick out materials and colors for their new home. So I stepped up to make those decisions because design was NOT my dad’s forte.
While choosing cabinets, paint colors, tile, flooring, windows and hardware I saw ways to modify their home design so it was more disabled-friendly. Google is a wonderful thing. I learned this is called Universal Design and I got most of the ideas scouring the Internet.
These are the changes I made:
– No stairs coming into or out of the house. The walkways are a gradual slope at all doors
– All doors wide enough for wheelchairs.
– All doorknobs handicap design– the lever type you see in most doctor’s offices, hospitals and public buildings.
– Safety rails in my parents bathroom near toilets and showers were installed during construction.
– A lowered bathroom sink for my mom with cabinet doors that fold back to allow her to use the sink from a wheelchair or regular chair.
– Safety lighting in their bedroom on a motion sensor.
– An intercom system and personal alarm attached to our security system.
– Kitchen drawers at wheelchair height that can hold plates, cups and silverware.
– All cabinets had hardware easy to use with arthritic hands.
A high breakfast bar in the original plan, was lowered to standard table height and widened to seat people on three sides
– More overhead lighting in all areas
– Some minor changes made traffic areas wider to accommodate walkers or wheel chairs.
Hardware you can use without bending arthritic hands, available at most hardware stores and on Amazon and Rejuvenation, called “bar drawer pulls”.
– Have you found something that works well with seniors in your care? I’d love to hear about it.
Moving Day, What Do You Do When Seniors Are Rooted In Place.