If your elderly parent insists on living independently, they may still appreciate a little help to make their home life easier. Use the ideas below to help make their living situation more comfortable and safer.
Bring the bedroom to them.
As people age, they have more difficulty climbing stairs. Aging joints and imperfect balance can lead to dangerous falls on steps.
If your elderly parent's bedroom is on the second floor, like many house plan configurations, consider converting a den or part of the living room into a bedroom. Either bring down their bed from the second floor, or treat them to a new adjustable bed from a medical supply company. A portable clothes rack can be purchased from a department store and placed in a corner for a makeshift closet. Knowing they don't have to navigate stairs at the end of a tiresome day will help both of you to feel better.
Raise things up.
The ability to easily bend over and pick things up is one of the first things that older people lose. Back pain and swollen joints make simple movements like this painful and can possibly lead to injury.
Look around the house for items that are too low to be comfortably reached. Is the dog or cat bowl on the floor? Most dogs cats can eat just as comfortably on a small table, with or without the help of pet stairs. Place favorite magazines on top of the coffee table instead of in a low magazine rack. A laundry basket can sit atop a small footstool instead of on the closet floor. Anything your parent has to bend over to access should be raised up.
Lower kitchen items.
Typical kitchen cabinets have high shelves where plates and glassware are stored. This presents an awkward and potentially dangerous situation in an elderly person's home. Anything breakable should be stored at eye level, within easy reach. Save the higher shelves for paper goods like napkins and paper towels.
If your senior parent suffers from shaking hands and is unusually clumsy because of it, consider replacing kitchen breakables with plastic equivalents. If they drop a glass, there will be no shards to hurt them. Make sure you purchase high quality, durable plastic that can withstand the dishwasher, so you don't inadvertently add to the workload in the home.
Just like you, your senior parent probably wants to feel that they can take care of themselves in their own home. Little touches like handicapped equipment and supplies will help extend the amount of time they are able to live independently.