We're preparing a safe home for Mom; what else do we need?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 10, 2016
Rdhdcwgrl asked...

My mom is 81 yrs old, has trouble sometimes with unsteadiness, weakness, she is type 2 diabetic, and has a pacemaker for atrial fibrillation. She is also hard of hearing even with hearing aids and she has low vision along with diabetic retinopathy.

We are in the process of buying a bigger home with the master suite going to be hers, complete with a sitting room, large bathroom, bedroom, and it's own entrance. We are going to be building a ramp onto a small deck area that will be at her own area.

I have bought a bathtub seat with a sliding/turning seat on it that she can sit on while out of the tub and slide over into the tub area where the seat also will be sitting too. The toilet is too far away from the wall to put grip bars up there for her, so we need to do something there, probably the bars that attach to the toilet bowl, and a higher toilet too.

I know she'll need a longer reaching hose for in the shower/tub area. She does use a walker and all of the area in the house is wide enough to be safe for her to use the walker throughout and the floors are mostly either wood or linoleum.

Is there anything else we need to do to ensure her safety?

Also does Medicare cover anything for her home safety needs?

Thank you for your help.

Expert Answers

Chris Moore is a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) and the founder and president of Solid Rock Enterprises, Inc. He is a contractor with more than 24 years of experience in residential construction. He specializes in using the principles of universal design to help seniors age in place in their own homes. He writes a monthly column called Housing Matters on the Senior News website.

I think it's great that you are taking your mom into your home and it's wonderful that you are planning ahead to make her living space as safe and comfortable as possible for her. Anytime you are preparing a safe home for the elderly the more advance planning you can do, the better off you and your mom will be. I always encourage my clients to use the principles of Universal Design when building or remodeling. This means creating a space that not only works for her toaday but anticipates future needs in case her condition deteriorates. A curbless shower and a wall mounted sink will be very helpful if your mom reaches the point that she is using a wheelchair. Also plenty of glare free lighting and contrasting colors on the edges of surfaces to help her see clearly will help. Make sure the shower valve and the faucet are positemp valves so she won't burn herself. Use lever type handles on the shower and sink handles as well as the doorknob. There are two types of grab bars that might work at the commode since it is not adjacent to the wall. One is a fold down type grab bar. The other is a pole that reaches from floor to ceiling and has the ability to attach grips at various heights. Both of these should be installed by a professional. I would suggest looking in the service directory here at caring.com under senior home remodeling for a contractor who is a CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) to come to the home and do a housing needs assessment. As I said before, it is much better to do the work initially (if it fits your budget) than to have to do it on an emergency basis if the nedd arises. As far as Medicare goes, that is not really my area of expertise, but Medicare will pay for certain equipment but will not pay for any installation or remodeling costs. I hope this helps and let me know if you have further questions.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Thank you so much for the information and your help Chris. I will definitely check into your suggestions. Luckily some of the things you mentioned about are already in place there in the home we are buying. :)