Ideally, the time for helping aging parents safeguard their home and routines isn’t after a fall or an accident occurs. But staying out in front of elderly parents’ needs isn’t easy — especially from afar, or when Mom and Dad insist that “everything’s fine.” A new book, Age In Place: A Guide to Modifying, Organizing, and Decluttering Mom and Dad’s Home, by Lynda Shrager, OT, MSW, can help.
Schrager takes the uncertainty out of when to step in and what to do. As an occupational therapist and certified aging in place specialist (CAPS), she’s an expert in creating a safer home environment for elderly occupants. She also understands the tricky dynamics involved in kids stepping in to tell parents what to do.
As Shrager writes, most of today’s seniors want to age in their homes – not only due to the high cost of assisted living facilities, but also because to retain some independence and normalcy in their lives. Age In Place covers all the ins and outs of creating the best plan for helping your parents stay in their home as long as possible.
Among its many useful strategies is how to lay the groundwork before having “The Talk” with parents. Collect all the information and resources you can — as having the necessary information on hand makes it easier to convince parents to accept help — and keep their sense of dignity and self-worth intact.
The book explains just what to look for when assessing a home for hazards inside and out. Shrager discusses flooring, furniture arrangements, appliances, lighting and even door handles — and offers modifications to make them safer and easier to use. She also suggests spending time with your parents to watch how they navigate their day-to-day routines, from climbing stairs to preparing meals and managing the house. Certain fixes are simple and effective, such as replacing a bathroom towel rack with a stronger grab bar, changing to a clapper-style light for hard-to-reach lamps, and swapping out round doorknobs for levered handles that are easier to grip.
Age In Place also lists several indicators that signal help is needed around the house — especially cognitive issues. Are bills going unpaid? Is a stove burner not turned off? Count the pills in a prescription bottle and compare it to the date it was filled to see if parents are staying on top of medications.
If any red flags come up, schedule a visit with their primary physician. A decline in cognitive ability may require certain adjustments, such as expanding the network of friends, family and community resources to provide more care.
This handy book also provides the groundwork for putting a plan in place — including lists of resources to tap, and checklists to complete with parents. These include recommendations about the best home medical equipment and its appropriate use, worksheets to use during your house and grounds walk-through, and even what information to include in a health care notebook for caregivers and physicians.
Our parents are living longer — and as their children, we’re often tasked with making sure they can continue to live as independently and safely as possible. Age In Place takes the stress out of facing this challenge. It provides a helpful, compassionate roadmap for this new stage of caring for elderly parents, making sure everyone knows what to do. Step by step, it’s a book that offers tremendous peace of mind.
Learn more at the author’s website.