If an elderly relative is moving from a beloved house or apartment, there will automatically be some grief about the change and the loss of autonomy. Obviously an elder care room needs to be utilitarian and function for the health of the individual, but you also need to make it feel like home. Mental health suffers enough upon moving in with one’s children, but being surrounded by beloved belongings will help. According to Steven Zarit, a professor of human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University, “One of the scariest things to people as they age is that they don’t feel in control anymore.” Including your loved one in your discussions and giving them as many choices as safely possible will help with the transition.
- Make the space as safe as possible by removing all clutter and area rugs and anything that could get in the way of your relative. Falling is a real hazard for the elderly, and many older people must use a walker to get around. Depending on your loved one’s condition, a wheelchair might be needed, so you need to remove all unnecessary clutter. Hidden cords that are in the way of traffic, and make sure there is a lot of open space for movement.
- Ensure enough room for a hospital bed, for ease of movement, and a dedicated bedside table to hold medicines, books, reading glasses, etc. With age comes more limited mobility, so it is nice to have everything together in one place where your loved one can reach it.
- Make your loved one feel at home by bringing important objects from his/her home. Pictures of beloved family will help them feel less lonely, and consider special heirlooms, art, or other valued items and find a special place for them.
- Whether you like it or not, your elderly relative will probably spend a lot of time watching television, whether for companionship or just to pass the time. Having a television mounted on the wall can make for ease of viewing, and tying the remote control to the bedside table is another trick to help them keep track of it or have to bend over if it is dropped.