Helping your parents age in their own home

The odds are great that your parents will want to stay in the familiar surroundings of their own home as they age. Some 70 per cent of older adults spend the rest of their lives in the place where they celebrated their 65th birthdays, according to

However, as they age, your parents may begin to suffer from a variety of geriatric syndromes that act as barriers to seniors remaining at home. Fortunately, recent innovations have made what is called “aging in place” much easier, safer, more practical and more enjoyable for older adults who remain at home.

Among those advances is a way of designing and building homes, called universal design, which allows people to live in their homes with ease through their lifetimes. In addition, imaginative new technology that can monitor older people living alone to detect deviations in their behaviour, and make living alone safer and more practical.

Universal design focuses on building houses that people can live in regardless of age or disability. Things like larger showers with benches, track lighting and windows to eliminate shadows, and super microwaves that eliminate the need for gas or electric burners are all design elements that can be built into, or added to, a home to help make living easier for an older adult.

Home Instead Senior Care and Joanna Marowits, a gerontologist and interior designer, offer some tips to address issues of senior health, safety, independence and design of their home:

• Avoid using area rugs since they are the number one cause of falls;

• Remove unused furniture to make it easier to get around;

• Beware of extra wires and cords from lamps and fixtures which can be another source of accidents; and

• Designate one person in the family to be the point person who will liaise with the senior loved one to avoid confusion and conflicting views.

(For more tips contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office or visit

Home monitoring systems

Another home addition some older people and their loved ones are turning to are monitoring systems that help alert others in case of an emergency. Most of us are familiar with the personal emergency response systems older adults living alone can wear on their necks or wrists to use in case of a fall or emergency.

Recently, additional systems have become available that allow the placement of motion detectors throughout the home to learn about a loved one’s typical daily behaviour and generate an alert if the routine is broken. For example, if a person usually awakens by 7:30 a.m. and has entered the kitchen by 8:00 a.m., the system could alert the family or emergency response if no movement is detected by 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m.

For additional information on helping your senior parents remain in their home, consider consulting your local Home Instead Senior Care office.

Article courtesy of Home Instead Senior Care. For more information on geriatric syndromes, read Stages of Senior Care, by Paul and Lori Hogan, Home Instead Senior Care’s co-founders.

Photo © Rebecca Ellis