Though it's never fun to think about in advance, more and more families are now taking care of an elderly parent or relative at some point in time. This phenomenon is often referred to as joining the sandwich generation—caring for both aging parents and boomerang kids.
As a result, granny or mother-in-law suites have now become a common part of the modern home's layout. These suites are very popular for multi-generational homes because they allow older persons to have their own space and independence, while still being able to get assistance from their families when they need it.
Though many newer homes have an area that is easily transformed into a living space for an older relative, there are still some changes that the homeowner will have to make to the space before it is appropriately suited for the safety needs of an older person. Here are some ways to make sure that an in-law suite is accessible for an older relative:
Make Sure Doorways Are Wide
All doorways in the area that the older person will be living in should be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or a walker. Even if the person using the mother-in-law suite does not need a wheelchair or walker at the time when they are moving in, it is important to consider that they might need one in the future. It is much easier to update the doorways in the suite prior to a relative needing a medical device to assist them with walking, than trying to do renovations after the relative has already moved in.
Install A Roll-In Shower Or Walk-In Tub
The suite's bathroom should include a tub or a shower that will be able to accommodate someone with limited mobility, while minimizing the risk of falling. The bathtub is one of the most likely places to have an accident and aging seniors are much more likely to have severe injuries following a fall in their mother-in-law suite. Roll-in showers and walk-in tubs are also made to accommodate aging people who are using wheelchairs or walkers and want to be able to bathe without having to ask their family members for assistance.
Use Linoleum Or Vinyl Flooring With Rounded Corners
Though carpet might seem like good idea when deciding on the appropriate flooring for a mother-in-law suite, it can actually have a negative impact on mobility. Shoes, canes and walkers usually cannot grip the floor as well on carpet, which increases the chances of a fall taking place. Furthermore, it is more difficult for people in wheelchairs to get around on carpeted flooring. The less accessible a suite is, the less independence its occupant will have, because they will have to ask for assistance with simple tasks like getting out of bed more often.
Raise The Toilet
In order to improve the accessibility of the bathroom, the toilet should be raised, which will make getting on and off of it less strenuous. This will reduce the chance of falls and make it easier for people using the mother-in-law suite that have to use a walker to use the toilet by themselves. Seniors and caregivers alike benefit from having an environment where the senior can move around independently and see to their needs with minimal dangers to their well-being.
Install Grab Bars In the Bathroom
Every bathroom in a mother-in-law suite should have grab bars in both the tub and next to the toilet. These bars will not only assist with getting in and out of the tub and using the toilet, but will also provide additional security in the event of a fall. Having grab bars in appropriate locations will allow both seniors and caregivers to feel more comfortable with the level of safety provided by the suite.