The two functions of the Bedroom are sleeping and dressing. As simple as these
functions are there is much to consider in making them safe and convenient.
A dressing area needs to have space for getting dressed. The more movement
limitations your parent has, the more open space is needed. Also if motion is limited
modifications of where cloths are stored will be a big help in getting at them. Having
shoes and slippers on the floor may not be the best height to reach them from a
wheel chair. Having an elevated shelf 1 ft off the floor will make reaching and
putting them away much easier. Having pants and shirts on a hanging rod 1 ft lower
than traditional height will also allow for easy items conveniently accessible. If you
have the space available, you may want to consider open shelving for pants and
other under clothing items. Drawer access from a wheel chair is difficult if the items
are in the back of the drawer or the drawer is high and deep.
If your parent spends a lot of time in the bed, it may be important to make the
bedroom have more of a living room feel by offering space for visitors to sit and
access to audiovisual equipment if they enjoy watching or listening to TV.
Lighting in the bedroom is important to have the full range from bright to night-
light. Some table lamps use a simple touch to turn on and adjust the light level. If
you have a ceiling light you can buy a wall switch modification that allows variable
light levels and also uses a remote so your parent can control the light level from the
As the condition changes, using railings on the bed is an important and safe
necessity. There are a number of different options you can use. Unless you are using
a Hospital type bed you will need to make modifications to the bed or area around
the bed. Railings help your parent turn in bed, sit up, get into bed easily and just as
Bringing Parents Home
important stay safe in bed. For a conventional bed you can get a railing attached to a
board that slides under the mattress. These bed rails have a tendency to move
especially if the bed is able to elevate. Frequent repositioning is needed. We have a
simple to build option in our DIY/BYO section. If you are custom making and
designing bed rails, you can make some nice adaptations for the specific
environment and needs.
Side table access is important for many of the needs; medication, tissues, phone,
pictures, night snakes, etc. and again a bedside railing may make reaching for these
items much safer, so consider the needs and activity level.
Emergency egress is always an important issue to review with your parent and all
the family members. Having a plan in advance can be a life saver.
Nighttime snacks are often important for health and a feeling of comfort for your
parent. What type of snacks to offer is important depending on the health of your
Odor control if incontinence or the use of a commode at the bedside are issues for
everyone. Early morning emptying and cleaning of the commode is important. Also
to control soiling of the floor you may want to place blue chucks or some other easy
to change or clean mat material. It is extremely important to make sure any loose
flooring material will not cause a fall. Bed rails will help in getting in and out of the
bed and sitting and rising from the commode safely. If you have any incontinence
items using a diaper odor control pail will help to contain the soiled items and allow
you to stay and help clean up quickly. Fragrant room deodorizers, compressed
sprays, electrical emittion, etc. may do a good job of masking the odors but make
sure the “new” odors are not irritating to your parents.
As your parent’s condition changes you may want or need to use a commode to
make a safe and convenient environment. The use of a bedside commode is helpful
and risky. Depending on the mobility ability a commode may move or slip as your
parent pushes or leans on the commode railings creating a very unsafe situation.
Making sure there are stable and secure hand railings, bed railings close to the
commode will make using the commode much safer. Review the bed railings options
in the DIY section for additional information and ideas.
The elderly and ill are especially sensitive to a draft. Air from a heating/cooling vent,
a open window or even a slight draft coming from and electrical outlet may be
irritating to your parent. You can use minimally expanding foam or a foam cover to
seal an electrical outlet. Cover or closing a heating / cooling vent may not be the best
for maintaining a comfortable room temperature. So moving a object or a open
cover to divert the direction of the airflow will help even out the draft and keep air
Most elderly parents are sensitive to the ambient temperature and want it warmer
than you may feel comfortable in. When they are in bed having heavy covers may be
uncomfortable and bothersome. Using a room heater may be a way of making them
comfortable without increasing the whole house temperature. There are a number
of different types of room heaters you can buy but you should consider buying a
room heater with a remote control option so your parent can easily maintain a
comfortable temperature from their chair or bed.
Having good ambient lighting is important for emotion and also having a nice view
of outside activities helps to divert attention and improve attitude. Remember when
you were sick as a child and you liked to look outside your bedroom window.
Night-lights are important in many conditions. They help your parent navigate and
you to offer assistance without the harsh bright lights. There are many types of
night-lights. Auto on lights are very convenient in controlling electrical costs. You
may also find some that allow for various light levels, they are convenient so you can
adjust the level as the need or the environment changes.
Audiovisual tools are important for a comfortable and restful environment. Having
multiple remote controls can create a frustrating situation. There are many after
market remote controls that can operate multiple AV devices. Some use a
convenient touch screen interface. Once trained a touch screen interface is very
intuitive for the elderly.
Using a tablet (iPad) for accessing the Internet for common activities (email, Skype,
Facetime, etc.) is a convenient format for the elderly who have issues with weight
and find holding a notebook in a chair or bed uncomfortable. There are a number of
over the bed or chair tables and lap aids that help if they wish to continue to use
With your parent possibly spending more and more time in bed it is very important
to have the best possible mattress to avoid Bed Sores and subsequent health related
issues. With many of today’s new mattress martials it is cost effective to provide
quality, comfort and convenience. One of the best considerations is a “alternating”
pressure mattress. However until they need a high priced alternating pressure
mattress you can use any one of the popular pressure equalizing mattresses. The
adjustable air pressure mattresses allow you to manually vary the pressure from
time to time thus aiding in comfort and pressure relief.
Be carful when choosing bedding material to chose material that is both light in
weight and warm. Many of these products will have a slightly higher price but the
resulting performance will be improved considerably when compared to budget
Caution should be given to picking bedding material that will not be loose or floor
length. Having extra material and especially on the floor is a trip hazard and should
When we think of tripping, the natural consideration is that rugs of any type be
avoided. Hall rugs, area rugs, etc. Whether a walker is used or not a rug is one of the
most dangerous items.
It is important to “bring their home with” and for most parents this means pictures
that they had in their home or new pictures of relatives, family gatherings, etc. We
will be discussing using flexible shelving options to provide access for displaying
items. But to provide easy hanging and allow for updating the 3M Command strips
are a great product. They can be used for all most every item you wish to place on
the wall. The Command products will not damage your wall as you may want to or
need to change the orientation, variety or actual items.
As important as natural light is for the orientation of the day (and night) it is often
times important to have a clock visible. Digital clocks with large numerals are less
confusing than analog clocks.
Weather your parents are taking Vitamins or Medications it is extremely helpful to
have them in individual containers for AM/Noon/PM dispensing. These dispensers
are available in week strips that make it easy to have one day where you can sit
down with your parent and talk about how the medications are working and work
together on filling the dispensing strips/containers.
For your parent it is important that they feel safe and that they can get attention
quickly when they need help. There are many options with communications options
today. Normally a wearable device is the most convenient and is always available. A
simple and inexpensive option is a wireless doorbell. The doorbell button can be
integrated into a wearable tag and the doorbell can be moved about inside and even
outside (depending on range) so you can go about your activities in the home and be
available as needed. For an “out of house” option, the five star systems are very
convenient and offer you and your parent the security so often needed to carry out
your normal life. You can also depending on you and your parent use the nursery
type of audio and video monitors so readily available. The video observation is
helpful at night or when you want to know if there are any risky ambulatory