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Growing trend

Growing trend
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Almost 20 per cent of Australian households are multi-generational, with three or more generations living together under one roof. And as the population ages (there are around 3.8 million Australians aged 65 and over), that number will grow. If you have an ageing parent, keeping them in their home or moving them into your own can be the most convenient way to go. But you may need to make some changes for safety’s sake.

Light it up

Light it up
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Updating the lighting in your home is one very simple way to make it safer and more comfortable for your ageing parent. Add nightlights in the bedroom, bathroom, and hallways for safety. Then make sure there is appropriate, bright task lighting wherever your parent needs it: near her reading chair, for example, or in the kitchen. And ask your electrician to make sure the controls for the lights, thermostat and so on are easy to reach and use.

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Safer showering

Safer showering
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Ideally, you would have a step-free entry into your shower stall and a bench inside for seating. “We recently built a custom shower for a client, and the biggest reason for doing it was to add a built-in bench,” says Nate Bruen, owner of a renovation business. If that kind of renovation isn’t in the cards, a free-standing shower seat is a budget-friendly option. Grab bars are essential when caring for ageing parents, especially if they will need to step up into the shower or bathtub.

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Bathroom basics

Bathroom basics
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Grab bars are also a must near the toilet, as ageing legs and knees may have difficulty sitting down and standing up from the seat. Adding a raised toilet seat can also be helpful. Another senior-friendly option is a two-level vanity, with a lower portion for use when seated. Finally, reversing the hinges on the door so it opens out, instead of in, gives everyone in your family more space to move around in a bathroom’s smaller footprint. Keep the bathroom free of clutter, too.

Hands-free help

Hands-free help
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Bruen says he has been installing more touchless taps for his customers. These allow older people to turn on the water with a wave or tap, instead of having to grip a tap handle. And you can retrofit almost any toilet to flush with the wave of a hand, too. Not only is this more sanitary, it means older family members don’t have to lean over to flush the toilet manually.

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Wider halls and doors

Wider halls and doors
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Especially if your parent uses a wheelchair, you will need doorways that are at least 850mm and hallways measuring 1000mm wide or wider. Remember that even if you are not facing mobility issues now, you might in the future, so being prepared is helpful. Doorway thresholds can be a tripping hazard, so eliminate those where possible. And for ageing parents who do have mobility challenges, make sure you know how to prevent and treat bed sores.

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Be rug-smart

Be rug-smart
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If you have area rugs, get rid of them if possible; otherwise, be sure edges are very secure so no one trips on them. Rearrange furniture so that high-traffic areas are clear and there’s plenty of room to move freely. And how about adding some easy-care plants: They’ll detox your home and add cheer at the same time.

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Easier openings

Easier openings
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If your home’s interior doors have doorknobs, consider swapping them out for levers, which are easier for ageing parents to operate. Got a sliding glass door? It may be difficult for an elderly person to open and close due to its weight. Bruen says he fixes this by replacing old sliding doors with newer models, which are made with better, lighter-weight materials.

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Safer entry

Safer entry
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Will you need to add a ramp to help your mum or dad enter and exit your home? That depends on your parent’s needs and your home’s characteristics. If possible, look into upgrading your home’s exterior to create a step-free entry. This might include a solution like a wraparound deck instead of just a ramp. You can also get a rubber threshold ramp that eases the transition from outdoors to in.

Cut out climbing

Cut out climbing
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If at all possible, create living spaces for your ageing parent that are all on a single level, so Mum or Dad does not have to climb any stairs. This might mean converting or adding sleeping and bathroom space on your first floor. A stair lift might also be an option, but make sure your relatives feel comfortable with it first. It is not worth the expense and hassle of installation if they are afraid to use it.

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Source: RD.com

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