Much has been said of the “boomerang effect” in recent years, referring to adult children moving back in with their parents. However, statistics indicate more parents are likely going to be living with their children in the future.
There are two reasons for the switch. The U.S. Census Bureau issued a report in 2017 indicated there will be more people over the age of 65 by 2030 than under. This is the result of an aging baby boomer population. Demographic experts state this is a turning point in American history because older citizens will outnumber children by 2035 for the first time ever.
At the same time, the AARP reports that 14 percent of older citizens are living in one of their children’s homes.
The trend is prompting changes in home life, ranging from daily purchases to home layouts to accommodate wheelchair, walker, cane, and bed accessibility. Many adults will find themselves buying diapers and underpads for both their children and their parents.
One area that will need to be addressed in the bathroom. Bathrooms are notorious for falls and injuries anyway and that is particularly true of the elderly or disabled person. Here are some things to consider when you look at the bathroom:
Look at the activities where the person will need the most help. This includes whether they need more help standing, showering, using the sink or doing other daily activities.
Make a list of all medical supplies that will be needed and plan where to put them so they are within easy reach.
Plan for the future. Make an assessment on whether your parent or loved one’s health will deteriorate over time and what will be required for assistance at that time.
After looking at these factors, it is time to assess the bathroom space your parent or loved one needs to be both safe and comfortable whether they are walking with minimal assistance or in a wheelchair.
Here are some things that will need to be done in the bathroom:
Doorways will likely need to be widened for a wheelchair to pass through. Most standard doorways are not wide enough. Even if your loved one doesn’t use a wheelchair now, the doorway will still need to be large enough for someone to assist them in walking into the space.
Grab bars will need to be installed. This is the key to safety. There may need to be multiple sets installed in the space to help the disabled person throughout the area, walking into it, getting to the sink, getting up from the toilet as well as in the shower or tub to help them avoid a fall there.
Make a space that is arm level for them or a caretaker to easily grab toiletry items like adult diapers, bed underpads, lotions, tissues, washcloths, creams and wound care cleanser. Sometimes, accidents happen and these things will need to be on quick access.
Take a serious look at your tub or shower. This is where the most money will be spent in making it user-friendly to a disabled person. Getting a good transfer bench is the first step if your parent or loved one can still walk and move fairly well. A transfer seat will allow them to sit outside the tub or shower and then move their legs into the inside without standing. Afterward, they swing their legs back around, get dressed while sitting on the seat and safely stand up from the seat to finish dressing.
For those who are weaker, a new tub or roll-in shower should be considered. There are tubs where people can walk into rather than step over. A roll-in shower slopes to the drain, so there is no step or curb to master. Once in, a transfer bench can be used to sit while showering.
While there are many decisions to make regarding an older relative living with their children, there are many health and safety options available to make sure both of you are living a quality life.