The chair is one of the most important objects next to the bed your parent needs ot
have that fits them comfortably and securely. If your parent is short in stature you
will need to look at the depth of the seat and make sure it is not too deep or too
shallow. The back support is important for a comfortable long-term situation. Your
parent may like the rocker/recliner type of chairs, make sure they are able to get in
AND out of the chair safely. If the chair rocks it may be difficult for them to use the
arms as supports in getting out of the chair safely. You could look at adding blocks
of wood to shorten the forward motion and making it more stable and convenient to
get out of the chair.
If your parent has limited ability to move side to side and get up and around a side
table will become a very important item for them. It is a place to hold all the items
they need or want access to frequently. Storage and accessibility are the 2 most
important considerations. Is the surface area large enough? Are there storage areas
large enough to hold the various items (scissors, tape, stapler, letter opener, hobby
items, etc.)? Is it easy to retrieve items from the storage area while in a chair? You
can look at conventional side tables and shelving systems. There is a new side table
that was designed for meeting the needs of an elderly person with limited
movement. It gives room for storage, easy to reach electrical outlets and cables (for
cell phone charging, hair curling iron, etc.) it has a roll out top to let you parent gain
access to storage from a sitting position.
Lighting of the room is very important. With wired and IR remote control options its
easy to set up area lighting and general room lighting that your parent can control
from the comfort of their chair.
Audio Visual considerations are very important for your parent to control remotely.
With the various items available (TV, DVD, Digital library like iTunes, etc.) limiting
the number of remote controls is very important to improve ease of use and
conveyance. Also when hearing is impaired, using auxiliary speakers are helpful.
Remote speakers can bring the sound closer to them and you will be able to keep the
volume at a reasonable level for the rest of your home.
Your parents most likely cherish their furniture and being able to bring some of
their items to adorn or be used by them will make the transition much more
pleasant. They have many items that have some very deep and fond memories.
Plants are important to many and provide a great on going activity. Watching and
anticipating the growth of flowers and plants can provide a very comfortable and
easy means of daily exercise. Having a potting area and easily accessible water is
very important. You may want to set up a temporary potting table or area as the
season and space permit. This can be a very fun and cost effective alternative to a
structured physical therapy program.
Reachers are for most elderly are very helpful tools. There are 2 main issues to be
considered…1. Quality of the device. A poor quality reacher will result in frustration
and possibly damaging items. 2. Availability is critical for use. The reacher needs to
be positioned and stored in a sturdy, secure spot that is easy to reach and retun it to
when the task is completed.
Communication with fiends and relatives can be one of the most enjoyable activities
your parent can have on a daily basis. Accessibility to a Phone, either a landline or
cell phone should be one of the most important considerations in their living area
(and bedroom). A cell phone is a very handy and important tool for safety and peace
of mind. Many types of cases protect the cell phone from damage and can make the
handling of the phone more convenient. Look for a phone with large dialing
numbers and features for the hearing impaired and use with hearing aids.
Meals and adequate hydration are critical issues to be considered. Many times your
parents will not be able to eat at the family table so considerations for living area
and bedroom eating needs to be thought of and planned ahead of time. If they know
there are easy to use and convenient alternatives available to them, they will feel
more comfortable and at ease to have meals served. Many over the table and bed
trays are commonly available. Sturdy construction and ease of storage need to be
the 2 main considerations. You can modify a small microwave table to be a sturdy
eating surface and storage area that can be used for all kinds of functions
Eating utensils, plates and glasses/cups can be purchased economically that are
more convenient for the elderly to hand and use. Glass products are heavy and
dangerous if dropped. Plastic items are much more safer and can be just as sturdy.
Many of the “handicapped” utensils are well suited for the elderly to use and makes
it more convenient.
In a sitting area if there is a door that can establish the sitting room as a more
individual environmentally controlled room from the rest of the homes heating and
cooling you may wish to replace it with a glass door so your parent will nto feel
isolated from the rest of the home. Environmentally they can establish a
temperature that is much more comfortable for them as the elderly normally feel
more comfortable with a room temperature close to 80 degrees.
Make sure you have their mail re-routed to your home. In addition you may initially
ask a number of their friends and relatives to write a weekly newsletter to update
your parents. This way they will fell as connected or more so than previously.
In addition to the written word, the use of Skype and Facetime to connect will be a
welcome alternative when they can no longer get out and around to visit friends and
relatives. With the size and lightweight of a tablet, it is much easier for your parent
to use sitting in a chair or laying in a bed vs a laptop.
It is important to have a trash or waste receptacle of some sort close and within
reach. It’s often overlooked but during the course of a single day there are tissues,
wrappers, etc. that need to be disposed of and to have a receptacle close at hand
makes it easy and convenient to work at their own pace and not feel like they are
making a mess that they have to wait for someone else to come and clean up.
Something as simple as a waste receptacle makes them feel they are caring for
Door size is one very importan consideration especially if your parent uses a
waliking aid (walker or cain(s)) or wheelchair. Normally moset exterior doors are
36” wide and its easy to get in and out of a home. However thre are no standards for
interior door width. Most interior doors are 32” wide or less. You also need to
consider the trim and the actual door as this narrows the opening. Often times a
walker or wheel chair will get caught on the door or trim. A self-propelled
wheelchair needs additional space for your parent’s hands to be on the outside of
the wheel chair. Also, depending on the weight of your parent they may have a
wider wheelchair and this will make passage thru a interior door a lot more difficult.
One option is to remove the doors, BUT everyone wants privacy in the bathroom
and bedroom. Depending on your situation and the construction or location of the
doorway you can move a door, widen the doorway, etc. to make it much easier for
them to navigate without difficulties and making it much easier and safe for them
If your parent is in a wheel chair or uses any waking assist devise, transitioning or
transferring into or out of a chair can be difficult and unsafe. Depending on the
condition of your parent you may need to make a number of modifications in the
area around the chair or even a different type of chair. Lets look at the different
options and conditions. If your parent uses and cane you may need a solid taller
table or railing on one side of the chair they can use to balance when sitting and also
to hold onto and help pull themselves up when getting up from the chair. – – insert a
number of pictures of options- – if your parent uses a walker this in of itself can be
support for transitioning. However based on the stability and ability of your parent
a walker can be unstable and unsafe. One of the most helpful and less obtrusive
situations is to use a self-raising chair to help with getting down from a standing
position or rising all the way up from a sitting position. These chairs can be a safe
and effective alternative. The only negative to this type of seating is they do not
rock or swivel and depending on the needs of your parent they may feel confined
with this type of situation.
As most of the time your parent may be alone in the living room (or any room,
bathroom, bedroom, etc.) it is important for them and you to have a means of
communication in case a situation arises where they need help. There are now a
number of devices that are very convenient for your parent. If they have a lot of
mobility you can position a simple remote doorbell button within reach or placed in
a wearable pouch. You can then place the doorbell near you in your kitchen,
bedroom or where ever within range you happen to be. If you are worried about a
fall or situation where they cannot have the ability to reach an alarm device, some of
the wearable alarm devices are a good alternative. Some of the newer cell based
devices have fall algorithms that will trigger a call and the agency can call you on
your cell or house phone. These services are billed monthly and may incur
additional charges per call. If you are concerned about your parent getting up and
around without assistance and possibly causing harm or injury to themselves, you
can install a motion detection device or use a baby nursery video monitor.
Its important to have fluids available and you may have to have a sipper cup or
other container that they can easily handle and if dropped or tipped not spill. Many
of the newer re-usable water bottles have convenient means of securing fluids and
still making it easy to sip or drink. You may have to consider the type of dispensing
used. Tipping a heavy bottle up of sucking on a straw may or may not be easy for
your parent’s particular situation.
One option for adding security and safety is to install a remote entrance-viewing
camera. Many of these products and send the video signal to a cell phone or tablet.
If someone is at the door and you parent “wants to know” who is at the door this
type of system may offer a cense of security and comfort. Knowing who is at the
door will help them determine how they need to respond.
Temperature control of their environment is critical and with many of the new WiFi
thermostats are handy if they live in a zoned area. They can control the thermostat
remotely from their tablet or cell phone. Additionally it gives you the ability to pre
warm or pre cool their room(s). If there is no zoning you may have ot look at a
remote heater or individual room air conditioner. Many of these devices offer
remote control options.
As with any room, the living room is much more warm and inviting if there are
bright large windows and a good view for them from a sitting position. If you have
the ability to place bird feeders for them to enjoy it will make sitting in one place for
hours on end much more enjoyable.
If your parent is able to get up and around, but with limited distance you may want
to consider installing a microwave and small dorm refrigerator. Having the ability to
get snakes and drinks for themselves will be convenient for everyone and helps with
a cense of self care.
In any room where your parent may navigate it is important NOT to have rugs or
any loose flooring materials. They may help the look and feel of a room but they are
very dangerous. Any slight elevation between flooring materials in door thresholds
are a concern and as discussed earlier there are ways to minimize the effects and
render the situation more safe.
When considering the type of chair your parent may be spending hours in it is
important to consider many aspects. First is the fabric. You should look at the type
of material for the situation. Fabric or leather, you will have to consider a number of
things to determine which is best for your parent’s condition? The size of the seat
will also be an important factor. The depth of the seat, can they place their feet
solidly on the ground, does it provide a solid back support. The width of the seat,
will you need to use pillows for additional support? Can they easily reach a side
table from the chair or do they have to stretch and lean…creating a unsafe situation.
Do they prefer a swivel and / or rocker? Does their condition allow for a swivel or
rocking chair? Again you need to consider how much energy and support they need
in transferring in and out of a chair.
Wi-Fi, TV, apple TV, cable, and adequate audio sound levels are all very important
considerations in providing a comfortable and enjoyable environment. Depending
on the interest level of your parent you will have to look at providing ease of use and
Shelves and storage of books and personal belongings is important in bringing their
home into your home. Having a display area is important as well as a storage area
that is easy to gain access to. You have to consider the limited rang your parent may
have in accessing items from the shelving. You may look ay tabletop shelving or
hanging wall shelving in a mid range.
The condition and color of wall treatments will bring a cense of warmth into the
room. You may want to paint the walls prior to bringing your parent home or if they
are already living with you the new low odor paints are the best option.
In a situation where they may be living out of a chair the most of the day
accessibility to items needing electricity and adequate AC outlets are a must. You
will not be able to re-wire the walls but you can accomplish this thru a number of
ways. Extension cords and multiple plugs on a power or surge strip are the easiest,
but these have to lay on the floor and bending over to plug or unplug is a dangerous
situation for your parent. –- images—tab with different low voltage plug