The conversations of life

Want to help elderly parents stay in the family home? Check out this useful advice


Many of us want to stay living at home as long as possible – but most modifications don’t happen until someone has a crisis such as a fall.

Age in Place author Lynda G. Shrager

This week we came across a new book ‘Age in Place: A Guide to Modifying, Organizing, and Decluttering Mom and Dad’s Home’ by an American occupational therapist Lynda G. Shrager.

She has 13 years’ experience in helping people modify their homes and while the book is geared towards the US (no basements here!), we think it does offer some useful tips:

  • Spend a few days in the house with your parents to see how they move around and identify any areas that could be made safer or easier to navigate.
  • Look at entryways – do paths need to be resurfaced to reduce trip hazards? Do you need to install more lighting or handrails? Do you need a ramp and wider doorway for a wheelchair?
  • Inside, is the furniture designed to accommodate someone with mobility issues? Are there any rugs, furniture or power cords that could be trip hazards? Ms Shrager also recommends replacing door knobs with lever handles which are easier to open and installing lights at the top and bottom of any stairs.
  • Most falls happen in the bathroom so do you need to install handrails or swap an older bathtub for a walk-in shower?
  • In the kitchen, do your parents need a step to reach higher shelves? Ms Shrager suggests side-by-side refrigerators and pull-out drawers for cabinets for easier access.

She adds that the key is to not avoid the conversation – if you are concerned about a parent or family member, let them know.

Good advice.

You can find the book here.

A practising aged care physiotherapist for the past 13 years, Jill has worked in more than 50 metropolitan and regional aged care homes. She has also toured care facilities across the US and Africa. She is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff that serve them.

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