Tips for making your multigenerational home grandparent-friendly


Extended families living together in harmony are the norm in some cultures where caring for aging parents is traditionally expected and readily adopted.

But turning your home into a loving, grandparent-friendly place can be quite difficult. Each family’s circumstances and needs differ, and there are financial, medical, space / privacy, and personality issues to consider. It’s a complicated process, so may your favorite elders be share the house Where aging in place, caregivers need to plan ahead – and think with their hearts, as well as their heads.

In one American News and World Report play (“Should Your Aging Parent Move in With Your Family?”), Carol Bradley Bursack, caregiver and author of Caring for our Seniors: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories, suggests that this major commitment should be made with eyes wide open rather than a hazy vision of this new reality.

Here the experts offer ideas and suggestions.

“Living well in our homes means making them welcoming and comfortable for all members of the extended family,” says Port Washington designer Jennifer Fox of Fox + Chenko Interiors Ltd.

But she and co-owner Tonia Omeltchenko both have a few common concerns that come up over and over again when it comes to the elderly, which is about comfort and safety:

  1. Seats: Seating trends favor young people these days, with their low-to-floor, deep, recessed and lounge relaxed. Unfortunately, this trend runs counter to the need many older people have to sit and stand up unaided. Chairs and sofas with a seat depth of 36 inches or less that have arms to provide leverage for lifting are always preferred.

  2. Flooring: choose flat-woven rugs rather than thick pile rugs with non-slip padding to reduce the risk of falling.

  3. Clean up clutter: A clean and organized space is safer, especially for grandparents who use walkers or canes.

  4. A guest bedroom and a bathroom are a plus: Beds should be of standard height, with a medium firm mattress. Other little touches: a table water carafe with glass and / or a soft and luxurious blanket. Ideally, this bedroom is on the first floor.

More tips: A therapeutic bubble bath with modern grab bars and a hand shower; a medicine cabinet with LED lighting in the mirror, which complements the ambient lighting on the ceiling and on the wall lamp.

Seniors-friendly changes

Problems with mobility, strength, balance or vision and the impact of chronic diseases can make homes where it was easy to move around places that are very difficult to navigate i.e. large- father may need a walker or a wheelchair. So, depending on the budget, the houses can be equipped with ramps on the outside, to avoid the stairs. Also, widen the front doors in the house or inside. Flatten thresholds in bedrooms or showers for easier access, suggests Richard H. Morgan, Ph.D., Associate Dean and Graduate Program Director and Clinical Professor, School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University.

To enable older people to live comfortably with their families or stay at home, caregivers should make housing more accessible and accommodating as the physical capacities of grandparents change. More complex home renovations could include lowering the height of kitchen / bathroom cabinets and countertops. And don’t forget about smart technology.

“Companies and contractors working in the home improvement field now have a better understanding of the changing needs of seniors and can design these kinds of plans for small and large scale needs. County and city agencies that serve the needs of aging citizens usually have information on area contractors who do this kind of work, ”says Dr. Morgan.

In addition, various organizations such as the United Disabilities Services Foundation offer information related to aging in place: Visit These types of design innovations can make caregivers’ homes much more suitable for the elderly while still allowing the elderly to stay at home in a safer environment.

Sometimes it takes a village

Multigenerational homes are great, but these arrangements have their pros and cons – and the dynamics involved may not work for everyone. To be successful, it also takes teamwork, part-time help, and a lot of emotional resilience.

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