An old proverb says that we’re “once an adult, twice a child.” Life’s journey is full of transitions, and one of the most challenging can be the evolution from dependent son or daughter into caregiver of aging parents. Although it can be difficult for both generations to come to the realization that household chores that were once easy for dear old dad to perform – like checking rain gutters or trimming trees – now pose a serious risk to his health, one way to minimize that risk is to make sure your parents’ home is “senior-friendly.” Here are some tips to help your parents with their home maintenance needs as they grow older:
- Encourage your parents to use ladders only when someone is available to stand nearby to steady the ladder and react in case of a fall. Inspect any ladders at your parents’ home to be sure the ladders are in good repair, not wobbly or missing any treads. Discard any unsafe ladders that can’t be repaired.
- Regularly check for frayed electrical wires or outlets that pose the potential for electrocution or fire hazards. Repair or replace any appliance that has unsafe electrical wires or plugs.
- Schedule a handyperson in your area (or yourself, friends or family members) to clean roofs and gutters at specific intervals, such as seasonally, to remove debris like fallen leaves, pine needles or branches. In addition to keeping your dad safe, keeping gutters clean and free flowing can reduce potential water damage in the future. If the home requires more extensive work, use these tips to help you when hiring a contractor.
- Schedule a lawn service to perform routine yard work and prune tree or shrubbery branches that are growing too close to the home, causing an obstruction, or potentially housing unwanted pests.
- If your parents’ home has a crawl space, inspect it at least annually looking for fire dangers, rotting floor joists, water intrusion, insect/termite invasion or other hidden dangers.
- Check all lights to be sure the bulbs do not need to be replaced. It’s important to remember to turn on the lights in their home if you visit during the day (when lights are less likely to be used) to make sure the bulbs are still burning brightly. The last thing you want is for your parents to discover in the middle of night that a bulb has burned out, and they’re forced to stumble around in the dark. Even worse is if they choose to stand on a chair (especially in the darkness) to try to change a hard-to-reach light bulb.
Helping your parents with their home maintenance will make them feel secure in their home and give you peace of mind.