As your parent ages, he or she may begin having problems getting around and may become dependent on the use of a wheelchair. A wheelchair is a great device to use, but you may need to complete some projects in your parent's home to make getting around easier and safer for him or her. Here are three things to consider doing to help your parent stay independent for a longer amount of time.
Widen the Doorways
When your parent is at home trying to maneuver around, it might be hard for him or her to get through the doorways. Wheelchairs are generally around 27-inches wide, and doorways should be 32-inches wide at the minimum to allow for a wheelchair.
If you are planning on hiring a contractor to widen the doorways, it might be wise to have the contractor increase the sizes to 36-inches wide though. This offers a few more inches and makes is easier for a person in a wheelchair to get through.
A contractor can do this with every door inside the house, and he may need to widen the home's exterior doors too.
Install a Ramp
The second thing to consider doing is installing a ramp. This is vital if your parent will leave the house at all. If he or she still drives, a ramp will offer an easy way for your parent to get out of the house and into the driveway where the car is parked. If your parent just wants to get out of the house to ride around the neighborhood in the wheelchair, a ramp will also be very useful.
If you decide to have a ramp installed, it's very important for you to take care of it during times of inclement weather. A ramp may be constructed out of wood or metal, but both types can become slippery during the winter. To ensure that your parent is safe using this, you may want to hire someone to:
- Shovel snow off the ramp each day
- Sprinkle salt on the ramp to melt any ice that might be present
- Remove any debris that is in the way
If you cannot visit your parent's house each day to do these things, you might want to hire someone that can. You could possibly ask a close friend or neighbor to do this, or you could hire a company to do the work for you.
Install a Stair Lift
Stairs are another big obstacle elderly people face, but having a stair lift installed is a great solution for this. A stair lift is a device that is attached to the wall of the stairs. It contains a seat that a person can sit in and has a button that moves the chair up and down the stairs.
If your parent has stairs that he or she must use, getting a stair lift will be a good step to take. This will reduce the chances of your parent falling as he or she uses the stairs, and it will help your parent keep his or her independence.
With these three modifications, your parent may be able to continue living at home alone for a longer period of time. These changes may also help you feel more comfortable with your parent living alone, and this may help you feel more peaceful about the situation.
If your parent is just beginning to have trouble walking, you can talk to the doctor about the options. The doctor might recommend trying a wheelchair, and you can then look into hiring a contractor to help you make the necessary changes in your mom or dad's house.