By Lori Bellport
You know that your loved one wants to stay in their home as long as possible. And you were on board with that plan — until they suffered a stroke.
Now, they have to re-learn basic skills. Everyday household tasks have become much harder. Their brain and body just don’t work the way they used to. And that’s scary for all involved.
This reaction is understandable. However, it is possible for your loved one to age in place after a stroke. You just need to take certain precautions and make adjustments throughout the home.
Use this guide to help you prepare the home for post-stroke care.
Step One: Assess Difficulties
Disabilities vary depending on the part of the brain where the stroke took place but generally include:
- Paralysis or movement problems
- Sensory or emotional disturbances
- Communication and comprehension problems
- Loss of memory or critical thinking skills
- Visual impairments
To prepare your home for post-stroke care, you’ll need to assess the specific damage to your loved one’s brain and what obstacles they’ll face. Seniors who have trouble communicating will require different adjustments than those who can’t walk, for example.
Each person is unique, therefore changes to the home are more effective when customized for the individual.
Step Two: Make a Plan
Once you understand what life will be like for your loved one, it’s time to plan adjustments — or even a full remodel.
Walk through every room in the house. Where will your loved one need physical support? Will different times of day call for different adjustments or renovations?
If your loved one suffers from paralysis or movement problems, consider the following adjustments:
- Creating a space where your loved one can complete a home exercise program
- Moving the bedroom down to the first floor
- Installing ramps or chairs that move your loved one up the stairs
- Widening hallways to make room for a wheelchair or walker
- Eliminating trip hazards within flooring and installing consistent flooring on every level of the home
- Removing high countertops or tabletops that require additional movement or reaching
If your loved one suffers from sensory or emotional disturbances, consider the following adjustments:
- Installing light dimmers
- Using soundproof construction materials
- Buying light-proof curtains
- Installing security cameras or front-porch camera systems
- Placing adequate and consistent lighting throughout hallways and frequently walked routes
If your loved one suffers from communication or comprehension problems, consider the following adjustments:
- Creating space for whiteboards and other items to communicate with loved ones
- Installing a phone system or other smart devices throughout the home
- Incorporating a medical alert system and other technologies that notify caregivers or emergency personnel of a medical event or fall
Note that these lists are just basic suggestions. Consult with a healthcare professional for more suggestions on how to make your home safe and comfortable for your loved one.
Step Three: Create Your Budget
The reality of aging in place is that, while adjustments may be necessary, they may also be costly.
Don’t let budgetary constraints prevent your loved one from living in a safe and comfortable home. There are opportunities to receive grants, loans, and other financial assistance for seniors with disabilities or people who want to age in place after a stroke.
Organizations like the Red Cross, AmeriCorps, and the VA all have grants for home modifications. We recommend checking out this list for more information. Seniors may also be able to receive funding through Medicare, Medicaid, and other government assistance programs.
It’s best to have a comprehensive remodeling plan and budget in place before you apply for financial assistance. That way, you won’t be surprised by expenses or discover you need to make more adjustments for your loved one.
Step Four: Talk to Professionals
You don’t have to go through this process alone. Talk to a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS).
Aging in place specialists do more than just help you remodel or make adjustments for loved ones who want to stay at home. They can also help you find home services that arrange personal care, food, transportation, and activities for loved ones.
If you need financial support, a specialist can help you find opportunities and apply for programs that will make the aging in place process easier on your wallet.
Your loved one’s safety and comfort is paramount during this time of recovery and healing. It takes time to adjust to the home environment after a stroke. And some disabilities may not be recognized immediately when the stroke survivor returns to daily tasks at home.
Invest in aging in place by consulting a team of experts who can take you through the process of planning and remodeling your home. The adjustments you make today will provide immediate benefits and create a tomorrow that offers peace of mind for you and your family.
About the Author
Lori Bellport is the founder of Live in Place Designs, a residential full-service contractor that brings together Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) and care coordination solutions for individuals living with chronic disease and/or disabilities. She is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), a Senior Home Safety Specialist, and a Certified Senior Advisor, and has held various Executive-level positions over 15 years in the long-term care industry.