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Mom is moving in—here is your checklist for what to do to your house, and fast!

When you don’t have much time to make accommodations

A parent and child move into a home with cardboard boxes. Credit: Getty Images / PeopleImages

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When you’re planning to age in place, chances are you’ll have to make some changes to your home to accommodate this choice somewhere along the way. For most, the planning stage can take however long it needs to take because time is on your side. But if there’s one truth about life we can all count on, it’s that we should always expect the unexpected. Sure, you’re planning ahead for your own retirement, but what happens when your home needs to accommodate an elderly occupant in an emergency situation?

While there’s little doubt that you’ll be there for a parent who may need you due to illness or injury, you’ll certainly need to pivot quickly to accommodate them in a home that’s not ready for them. The good news is there are quite a few small projects you can do over a week or weekend to make their daily life safe and comfortable.

Here’s a checklist of things to do to prepare your home quickly for when a parent or aging loved one moves into your home without much notice.

1. Swap out door knobs

A hand grasps a door lever.
Credit: Getty Images / kickimages

Installing door levers is an easy fix.

With age, dexterity often becomes an issue. Couple this with the pain from chronic conditions like arthritis, and suddenly something innocuous like a standard doorknob can be incredibly difficult to manipulate. So, to make it easier for your loved one, swap out standard door knobs throughout the house with levered door knobs. This is a quick and easy DIY and inexpensive to boot.

Get the Design House Scroll 2-way Latch Privacy Door Lever at Amazon for $12.83

2. Upgrade the lighting throughout your home

A kitchen is lit by cabinet lighting.
Credit: Getty Images / Chefmd

Consider motion-sensor lights in your kitchen.

By age 65, most people need twice as much light as someone in their 20s. For that reason, lighting upgrades throughout your home may be in order.

The good news is this project can be as easy as swapping out bulbs for a higher wattage. Additionally, you may want to think about motion-sensing lights in the bathrooms and under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen. You can also add a few lamps throughout the house to illuminate dark corners.

3. Clear away clutter

A person clutches baskets of laundry.
Credit: Getty Images / Kostikova

Put all that clutter away.

Clutter is another common cause of household accidents. Truth be told, this can be hazardous regardless of your age, but if you have an elderly loved one moving in, you may want to spend some time clearing away the clutter throughout your home. Piles of books, stray blankets, and even miscellaneous dog toys that are strewn about are trip hazards that can certainly be avoided.

4. Secure loose rugs and carpeting

A person lifts a carpet to reveal a Gorilla Grip that prevents it from sliding.
Credit: Gorilla Grip

Keep your rug in one place.

The curled edges of floor rugs can be particularly hazardous for seniors and even more so for those who must use a cane to get around. So, before your loved one moves in, take care to remove rogue rugs or do your best to secure them to the floors.

An adhesive rug gripper acn cover the entire corner of a rug to prevent corner curling and keep your rug firmly in place.

Get the Gorilla Grip 8-piece Adhesive Grippers at Amazon for $12.99

5. Paint the steps

bright white staircase
Credit: Getty Images / poligonchik

Use light paint colors or add higher wattage bulbs to make it easier for seniors to navigate a staircase.

Remember that compromised vision almost always comes with age, and that means seniors have a far more difficult time telling where one step ends and where the next one begins. False footing on stairs can lead to an accident nobody wants.

Painting the steps is a quick and easy weekend project that you can do to keep your loved ones safe when going up or down the stairs. Try painting your stairs in alternating colors with high contrast. Your loved one will feel more confident when traversing the stairs.

There are a number of quick upgrades you can make in the bathroom

When you’re over 65, the bathroom can be a dangerous place. To illustrate just how dangerous, the CDC shares startling statistics, including that 80% of bathroom injuries are the direct result of a fall, 68% of injuries occur around the shower or tub, and 23% of injuries occur on or near the toilet.

The following bathroom upgrades may not cost a lot, but they can be priceless when it comes to keeping bathroom accidents to a minimum.

6. Install grab bars

A person holds onto a grab bar inside their home.
Credit: Getty Images / Toa55

Installing grab bars and railings serves multiple purposes.

Grab bars help prevent falls around the toilet and in the shower, so they are crucial to a safe bathroom. The only caveat here is that if you're installing a grab bar yourself, just be sure that the bar is secured into a stud for maximum safety.

This is a relatively easy weekend project, and not only are grab bars easy enough to find in your local home improvement store, but there are plenty of options on Amazon as well, most of which come in somewhere between $20 to $30.

Get the Carex Health Suction Shower Grab Bar at Amazon for $10.95

7. Add a removable bench or chair

A plastic adjustable chair sits in a shower.
Credit: Getty Images / Patcharapol Buasawad

Keep a chair in the shower.

Remember that with age, balance often becomes an issue to the point where standing up for a shower can be taxing. Also, remember that water and soap are a hazardous combination when you’re unsteady on your feet.

To ensure your loved one has a safe bathing experience, think about adding a shower chair or bench to your shower, so they have a safe spot to sit should the need arise. Good ones will feature a stabilizing backrest, adjustable legs, and drainage holes that prevent water from pooling.

Get the Drive Medical Plastic Tub Transfer Bench at Amazon for $54.71

8. Install a handheld shower head

The Hydroluxe Full-Chrome 24 Function Ultra-Luxury 3-Way shower head is our favorite shower head.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Hydroluxe Full-Chrome 24 Function Ultra-Luxury 3-Way shower head is our favorite shower head.

Handheld shower heads are another easy DIY you can do quickly to accommodate an elderly loved one. They work whether you are in a standing or sitting position. When we tested shower heads in our lab, we awarded our Best Overall badge to the Hydroluxe 24 Function, which features both a shower head and hand sprayer, not to mention 24 ways to enjoy getting clean.

Get the Hydroluxe 24 Function 3-way 2-in-1 Shower Head at Amazon for $24.99

9. Add a raised toilet seat

A person installs an elevated toilet seat.
Credit: HealthSmart

Make adjustments to your bathroom to accommodate your loved one.

For seniors who suffer from chronic pain or limited mobility, using the toilet can be incredibly difficult and even embarrassing if they require regular assistance. Not only can a raised toilet seat keep the pain to a minimum, but it also allows them to use the bathroom independently, and that in itself can be priceless.

If you have installed separate grab bars on the walls around the toilet, then you might consider a simple raised toilet seat. Most come with universal size fitting and are slip-resistant. If you have not installed separate grab bars to the walls, you could opt for a raised toilet seat that comes with handles on either side for an easy assist when your loved one is using the facilities.

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