Last August my dad turned 80. He still lives at home. In fact, he runs a college dorm.
Not long after my mom died in 2003 — after nearly 47 years of marriage — my dad opened their home to his college grandkids and their friends. I thought it was a sure sign of dementia! But, in fact, it was absolute wisdom.
Not long after my nephew, Sean, and two of his buddies moved in. While it must be noted that the kids in our family are not into drinking and all-night parties, they are still young. And college kids are noisier and rowdier than any 80-year-olds.
Still, it turned out to be a great thing, both for the kids and my dad. Now, years later, the home has served as a college residence for my oldest daughter, Jessica, and some of her friends and another nephew, Ryan, and his wife. The kids have free housing at a time when, well, they really need free housing. And my dad has company and someone who loves him nearby.
Finally, after years of discussion, my dad (who is able-bodied, mentally sharp, and still driving) has agreed to live with us when the new house is done. I’m thrilled because we all love him and because I’m hoping to get him to eat better!
With my dad soon to be a resident in our home, I’ve considered how to meet his needs as he gets older. I’ve been looking for resources to help me. A great blog specifically about caring for the elderly has already proved helpful. In addition, there are websites, books, an array of helpful products, and even support groups. Here are some of the ways we’ve addressed this new, happy situation:
- Dad’s bedroom is on the main floor. It will be private and quiet, with it’s own television, desk, easy chair, etc. Yet he can get to the kitchen and main living areas without using stairs.
- His bathroom is adjacent to his bedroom, so it’s easily accessible. It has been designed for wheelchair access, if that is ever needed.
- The basement will have a recreation area, but also access to the garage and backyard. If dad is going to use those areas, the most direct way would be to go down a long flight of stairs. At some point this might be require a modification. These are chairs that are attached to rails, that carry a person up the flight of stairs.
Just as with everyone else in your home, the elderly may require special consideration. Planning ahead can make caring for the elderly a blessing.