Dear brothers and sisters in thrift, I need information on "aging in place". My mother-in-law broke her femur and is currently in rehab. I need to prepare her home for optimal use when she gets home. There is a powder room on the ground floor and she can stay in the living room. My father-in-law is 90. They live 90 minutes away. All your sage, thrifty advise is welcome.
By TheOldLadyoftheVillage from 90 minutes from Princeton, NJ
Sorry your mom broke her leg. I'm sure others will have more advice on "aging in place" as I'm not familiar with that term, but I do have a few suggestions to start.
Will she be in a wheel chair or on crutches? Either way, remove all the throw rugs in the rooms she will be in. These could cause her to trip.
If she will be in a wheel chair, take some dishes, glasses, coffee cups out of the cabinets and make room on the counter tops for temporary storage. If she is on crutches, make sure all her daily use dishes are toward the front and lowest shelves in the cabinets.
In the bathroom make sure things like towels, toilet paper, soaps, toothpaste, etc., are easily accessible. You might want to consider installing a handicap quality handrail next to the toilet as well.
If your folks use a wall mounted land line for their phone, you might want to reconfigure it to desktop style for easier access. Since your folks will be sleeping in separate rooms, I would also invest in a portable intercom system. This is going to sound silly, but I would also give your mom a whistle on a lanyard (think lifeguards at swimming pools) so she could get your dad's attention if she is unable to reach the portable intercom system.
You can also do a google or bing search on "handicap accessories" to get some more ideas for things that would make her life easier.
Like I said, I imagine others on this site will chime in with lots of more specific suggestions. I wish you and your folks the best.
One of my friends dealt with arrangement issues when she fell and broke her femur too. Her family made the rooms spacious by moving things around to hug the walls and allow for more foot room. I visited her in her home and it looked very nice and she was pleased with the changes her family made for her benefit. Home is the best place to be if possible while recuperating.
IF there are any steps leading outdoors, add a ramp with handrails. This should be a necessity. My friend fell again thinking she could deal with going down two steps and ended back into surgery and rehab. What a bummer. The mind is thinking the old way of looking at things while the body is having to change to the new way. This was her downfall thinking she could handle those two steps which did not even have a handrail. So make certain this is done before she goes home or arrange to have a person bring her mail to her so she doesn't have to go off the porch if there is one. She had someone to get her mail for her, but she decided she could get it herself only going down very carefully two steps, but her balance was not good and/or not used to using a walker. Maybe your relative isn't like my friend and is wiser in just not trying to do something like that for herself unattended.
My friend also had a higher toilet seat attached to the commode and it had arm rests to it. A shower seat was sat in the tub with a hand held shower unit.
She sat mostly in an easy chair as it was easier for her to rise from than a sofa, so you might consider placing chairs in areas where one can look out their windows, driveway, and watch tv. She had a few sturdy plastic lawn chairs with a pad placed in the seat and claims it helped her to get up easier too. An ottoman is also helpful so she can elevate her legs and use bed pillows lengthwise to provide more cushioning. A couple blanket throws proved helpful as well and Meals on Wheels was a big help. You might try contacting them. Easy to prepare microwave meals from the store helped too. She lived alone.
A small end table or floor tray is better beside the chair than a coffee table in the front of sofa, move it next to the wall or out of the room. Keep in mind there should be no tight spaces or blocked doorway passages for someone to walk through; keeping it as open as possible.
The rehab facility sent a person to her house before she went home to check out the interior to see if she could get along alright and provide further helpful tips. Everything was accommodating and my friend went home to a place she could maneuver around with the aid of a walker and family members could breathe easier about her situation knowing her needs were met. Good luck.
You might consider contacting your local Area Agency on Aging for resources:
Mercer County Office on Aging
640 S. Broad Street
PO Box 8068
Trenton, NJ 08650
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