Many seniors are able to live independently well into their senior years. Their children, however, often worry about their safety. Senior parents and their children can compromise by looking for apartment buildings and retirement communities that make independent living easier. If you're looking for the ideal place for your mom or dad, here are five tips for choosing an appropriate apartment for your elderly parent.
Get a Ground Floor Apartment
In the best-case scenario, you'll find an available apartment on the ground floor. Since falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for seniors, avoiding stairs is one way to reduce the risk of a fall. If a ground floor apartment is not available, make sure there are at least two working elevators in case one of them goes out. Also, examine the stairs carefully to ensure that they have steady handrails and no-slip materials on each step to help seniors maintain their footing.
Look for Bathroom Safety Features
Another area where seniors are prone to falls is the bathroom. When looking for an apartment, bathroom safety features should be at the top of your list. Large, walk-in showers with handles on the wall are ideal. If your parent can't stand for long periods, you may also want to add a shower chair for sitting while bathing.
If walk-in showers are not available, make sure the bathtub is low enough to easily get into. You may also want to put no-slip strips or a mat in the bottom and rails along the tub if they're not already in place.
Choose a Building with a Common Area
Moving to a new place is intimidating for anyone, and it helps if you're in an environment that makes it easy to meet new people. Common areas that provide televisions, computer workstations, games and other forms of entertainment allow seniors to socialize in a safe environment. It also makes family visits more pleasant because you'll have a larger space to gather in if the apartment itself is too small.
Ask About Housekeeping Services
Can your mom or dad still do the laundry and keep the apartment sufficiently clean? If your parent needs help with these things, look for complexes or apartment buildings that offer laundry service and housekeeping. Note that these are not usually included in the price of rent; they're offered at an additional fee.
Look for Pet-friendly Buildings
Research shows that owning a pet has several health benefits, especially for seniors. Elderly parents are prone to loneliness and depression when they retire or when their children live far away, but pets can provide much-needed companionship. Dogs are a good match for some seniors, but they require a lot of attention and exercise. They're also noisy, and that can be problematic when living in close quarters with others. Many seniors prefer cats because they're easier to care for. They make little noise and don't need walks. With a cat, you only need to feed it, groom it and scoop the litter box. They're low-maintenance, and they help seniors lead longer and healthier lives.
Before you settle on an apartment, find out what their policy is on keeping pets, especially if your parent already has a companion. And if Mom or Dad doesn't have a cat yet, get one as soon as everything is settled in the new apartment to make the transition easier.
In addition to these features and services, you need to make sure the building has basic safety features like security systems, strong deadbolts, security cameras and well-lit elevators, stairs and parking lots. If your parent can't drive, some independent senior housing complexes have on-site transportation services to take seniors to their medical appointments, shopping and out for entertainment.