5 DIY Projects to Help Older Parent Stay at Home of Choice

If you have an older parent that lives at home because they choose to, your next concern would be about their safety and ability to stay active as long as possible. There are many DIY projects you can do over the weekends that might save your family cost of assisted living or simply contribute to your parent's better quality of life.

Here are some suggestions for five DIY projects that you might find useful:

1. Change and add lighting to prevent falls.

Visual impairment is number one of the top four reasons for loss of independence among seniors. According to the American Institute for Aging, 80% of people over 60 years old with overall good vision do not perform well at everyday tasks because of low contrast lighting and glare.

This makes you wonder if your older parent could read more or be more willing to go on Skype with you if it wasn't for the glare from the screen. To adjust lighting for an aging eye, this is what you need to understand: As per American Lighting Association a forty-year-old person needs three times more lighting than a twenty- year-old.

• Substitute existing bulbs with more powerful ones. You can use compact fluorescent lamps or LEDs to save the energy cost. Make sure that hallways, stairs, and bathrooms are lit especially well.
• Buy additional light fixture that are concealed or have shades and try not to use exposed lamps.
• Make sure that all the lighting is on dimmers.
• Consider buying a special age related reading lamp, such as lamps by Holtkotter.

2. Change doorknobs to lever-style handles

To understand how a person with arthritis feels trying to turn around a shiny door knob, put a thick sock on your hand and then try it yourself. It feels uncomfortable, doesn't it? Lever-style handles work better for someone with less finger flexibility. Also, seeing the key hole and turning the key can be difficult for older people.

• Substitute round knobs with door lever handles
• Install electronic locks that can be opened with a proximity card or swipe card (similar to a credit card). These can also be programmed to allow access to certain users at specific times only, which provide security.

3. Install slip resistant flooring

Tile remains the top product used for flooring in baths. Textured finishes on tile and grout lines create a slip-resistant surface in the bath. Polished marble tile is classic but it is one of the most dangerous products you can use in the bathroom due to its slippery when wet surface.

• Install a smaller tile size with textured accent tiles to create a slip-resistant surface for a bathroom or the entry.

4. Rearrange furniture

Consider how spaces can be adjusted or revamped to enhance your parents' routines and enjoyment of those special features of their home.

• Put a desk in the room with the nice view instead of a corner
• Substitute a low round chair with a chair with a higher seat with wood arms.

5. Adjust outside for gardening

Gardening can be quite enjoyable for older people. If mom and dad enjoy gardening but have developed certain difficulties in bending, consider making certain changes to the garden set up.

• Create vertical planting by using wall and trellis
• Raise flower beds to avoid bending and stooping
• Provide retractable hanging baskets, wheelbarrows and containers on castors

I personally find that the hardest part is to convince my older parents to make changes in their familiar and dysfunctional environment. So the way to approach the issue is through stories about other people and then transition to your plan. The trick is to collect all the information so that you could "sell" your idea.

It is true that if you have a job or business and a family of your own, the above DIY projects are easier said than done. But if you think that an average annual price of a nursing home is 70,000 a year, you will understand the obvious reasons for your efforts at a time when your parents are still active, independent and want to stay that way.

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