How Apartments for Elderly Parents Should Be Set Up Turning Your Basement Into an Apartment

December 6, 2022


Aging is a big part of life, and it’s hard to see your parents lose mobility and deteriorate. Luckily, if you have a basement, you can have a whole home remodeling and ensure that all their needs are met. You can fit rails, bigger bathrooms, and even a medical bed down there. The benefit is that your parents will still have some independence.

You just have to hire a good contractor and learn what can benefit them based on their situation. Framing a basement ceiling in a certain way can help you install other items so their mobility isn’t that compromised or they can hold on to stuff by themselves. How long does it take to frame a basement? You’ll have to ask your contractor for the exact time frame.

If you don’t want a remodel, you can consider looking for a house with a fully furnished basement already. However, that could be hard to find unless the previous owners had elderly parents as well. Sometimes, it’s best to invest in the renovation, especially if you don’t want to send your folks to an assisted living facility.

Let’s find out more about turning your basement into a fit apartment for elderly parents.

According to Statista data, about 16.9% of Americans are 65 years and above. Being a senior comes with some challenges, such as mobility, disease vulnerability, and generally slowed life activities. Younger family members find themselves in the position of caregiver.

According to the Care Giver Organization, 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care to a senior adult aged 50 and above. Therefore, there’s a high chance that family members will provide housing for their aging parents. If you are expecting to take care of your elderly parents, you can choose from the following options:

  • Apartments for Elderly people
  • Assisted living homes
  • Nursing homes
  • Your home

The choice you make is influenced by the needs of your elderly parents. Having good home insurance might also be a factor you consider. Some people opt to convert their basements into apartments for elderly parents. It’s a good option since you’ll interact with them more frequently. Here’s a detailed guide on converting your home basement into a livable space for your aging parents.

Factors to Remember Before Converting Any Space for Senior Living

1. Manual Dexterity Reduces with Increasing Age

Multiple studies have shown that manual dexterity- the ability for hand-eye coordination- decreases with age. For example, a study published in the Frontiers in Neurology Journal found that manual dexterity declined with cognitive decline. Activities that seem like no work, such as turning a door knob, can become quite challenging for a senior adult.

When designing any space, such as apartments for elderly parents, it would help to keep in mind that their manual dexterity will decline. Therefore, make it easy on the hands. For example, install lever-style hardware on rockers, door knobs, and faucets. That way, your aging parents don’t need to keep calling you whenever there’s a problem.

2. Slips and Falls Increase with Age

One of the biggest challenges of aging is the ease of slips and falls. According to the CDC, one in four senior adults falls each year, but the majority never tell their doctor. What factors make it likely for senior adults to fall? The following are some of the factors:

  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Declining hearing and vision
  • Foot Pain
  • Lower body weakness
  • Side effects of medications such as tranquilizers
  • Musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis

With this in mind, consider improving lighting when doing home renovation for seniors. Poorly lit areas such as stairs and corridors make it harder to keep balance. That is especially true considering hearing and vision issues because of age.

Another factor you can incorporate is remodeling the floors. A good tip is to have as many non-slip materials as possible. For example, have non-slip mats on the kitchen floor and bathroom floor.

3. Bathing May No Longer Be Easy

One of the reasons you might consider caregiving to senior adults is their ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL). Bathing for senior adults may not be similar to how to hop in the shower and doing a little jiggle. Visits to the toilets may also become more challenging with standard facilities.

A typical way to improve baths is to add grab bars in shower rooms and the toilet. If the senior adults love getting to a bathtub once in a while, you can add mechanisms to aid them in getting in and out. You could also replace a fixed showerhead with a hand-held showerhead.

4. Access Becomes More Crucial

Apart from safety and convenience, access is the other crucial factor before calling a general contractor to remodel a space for senior living. Ergonomic considerations might mean installing an elevator. An elevator offers convenience and safety for the senior adult by reducing the likelihood of slips.

Access might also mean having firm rails, wide entryways for wheelchair access, and large windows. If you can relocate your parents upstairs or downstairs, choose the latter. Make each room easy to navigate, from the bedroom to the kitchen.

Top Tips for Converting Your Basement for Elderly Parents

Your basement is probably a dumping place for old clothes, off-season decor, old players, and dysfunctional electrical appliances. However, did you know you could convert your basement into an amazing living space for your elderly parents? Since basements are unusual spaces because they mostly don’t have walls or natural lighting, you need to use some tips and get a professional basement remodeler.

If you want to know how apartments for elderly parents are set up, here’s an ultimate guide that will make converting your basement much easier and more convenient.

Who to Hire for Your Project

Before starting the project, you need to hire some personnel to help you with your project. DIY projects are fun, and it can be relieving to do them. However, a basement remodel is not one of the projects you should do alone. Here are three professionals you should hire for setting up basements as apartments for elderly parents.

1. Consider Hiring a Contractor to Remodel

It’s best to consider hiring a contractor, such as a basement remodeler, to handle the whole project. They’ve experienced converting basements into living spaces. They also know the best materials, such as non-slip tiles, that could make falling less likely. Let them know you intend to house your elderly parents in the converted space.

You should consider the experience and portfolio of the contractor. Have they handled similar projects before? Do they have sample projects they have done involving basements? Can they offer unique perspectives that could help you do the project better?

2. Hire a Moving Service

If you’re like the average American family, your basement is full of old and new stuff. It’s an easy space to clutter with waste electronics, books, and décor. A quick look at all the stuff in your basement could discourage you from converting it.

You could sort the stuff and move them to a rented storage unit. Further, you might need a residential moving company to move your parent’s essentials to the remodeled space. Maybe they have a favorite sofa or clothes in their former house. A moving service will remove things from the house and bring others to the house.

3. Hire a Cleaning Service

Another reason you might be hesitant to remodel your basement is because of the amount of dust it has accumulated over the years. Maybe you haven’t used the space regularly. Crumpled up space, clutter, and spills. A cleaning service can sort all these.

Local house cleaning services will help you sort and organize clutter into boxes. They’ll leave your basement fresh, smelling, and ready for remodeling. After remodeling, you can call them again to clean and get the space ready for occupation.

Setting up the Space

You’ve hired professionals, cleaned the space, and now have a dry basement ready for remodeling. How should you make the space look like well-functioning apartments for elderly parents? Here are seven ways to set up your space.

1. Set Up New Floors

Your current floor is likely to be cement. You don’t want your elderly parents walking barefoot on the cold cement. Wood carpet is not recommended because accumulated moisture and cement sweating can lead to warping. Therefore, you need a material that’s warm, moisture-resistant, and anti-slip.

Some recommended floor options include engineered wood tiles and installed carpets. Since senior adults will be using the living space, the floor needs to be soft to reduce injury in case of a fall. However, it’s a tight balance since they also need comfort and aesthetic appeal.

2. Upgrade Lighting

Another consideration when setting up basements as apartments for elderly parents is good lighting. The CDC recommends making sure your home has plenty of light by adding bright light bulbs. Since basements have poor natural lighting already, you can compensate by having bright light fixtures.

When choosing light fixtures, settle for warm colors that don’t leave shadows and basement gloom. Ensure you get a licensed electrician company to install your lighting to prevent electrical hazards and loose wires. Proper design and installation allow you to have a bright and welcoming space for senior adults.

3. Choose and Install a Senior-Friendly Bathroom Design

If your aging parents are retired and have mobility, they’re probably spending more time indoors. One of the sweetest things you could do when setting up basements as apartments for elderly parents is to choose a bathroom design that allows access and comfort. Shower rooms are often the spots for slips and falls, so have safety in mind.

Have a plumber check the water fixtures for accessibility by having lever-style fixtures. However, the design doesn’t need to be only functional. You can improve comfort by having a fold-down seat in the shower. When choosing grab bars, opt for horizontal and vertical, not diagonal, because the latter has more chances of a slip.

4. Install Exit Windows

Most basements were not originally designed for a long-term stay. Therefore, the windows may be small and dingy. During the remodeling, opt for egress windows that allow natural light and act as emergency exits. In an emergency, an egress window might be more accessible than the stairways.

If the senior adult spends plenty of time in the basement, egress windows can help increase natural light. Considering that vitamin D deficiency is one of the causes of muscle weakness, improved lighting will increase the quality of life of the senior adult.

5. Add Insulation

Another aspect to consider when setting up basements as apartments for elderly parents is insulation. Most basements are cold, and one can easily hear the noise. Therefore, you can have the walls and floor insulated using panels and batting.

Insulation is essential for senior adults to prevent the exacerbation of illnesses such as arthritis. According to NY Health, it’s not the cold that causes increased pain in the joints but rather the pressure drop. Insulating will trap heat and keep the room warm.

6. Install Adequate Ventilation

Your basement requires adequate ventilation to provide fresh air for the residents. Senior adults may already be living with respiratory diseases that could be exacerbated by stuffy air. Ventilation is essential for airflow and channeling away fumes from cooking and cleaning.

A good tip for converting basements to apartments for elderly parents has proper HVAC installation by a reputable HVAC company. A faulty HVAC will make your seniors uncomfortable without explanation and increase your electricity bills.

7. Upgrade the Stairway

As far as possible, aging adults, especially those with mobility problems, should be in places without stairways. However, if they have to use stairways, upgrade and expand your stairway to allow ease of movement. Add a firm handrail and upgrade the lighting. The CDC also recommends that the rails should be on both sides. You can have lighting on the floor and the ceiling.

If the senior uses a wheelchair, consider the combined height to ensure the stairway can hold. Make the steps as small as possible so people don’t have to lift their legs too high. Also, expand the staircase to ensure two people can access the room if assisting the senior. You can also have electrical lifts to improve convenience, comfort, and safety.

Final Thoughts

Housing can improve a senior adult’s quality of life, safety, and convenience. Depending on needs, options such as assisted living, apartments for elderly parents, and remodeled homes can be available. You may choose to have your elderly parents live with you. Pick downstairs if you have to choose between a room upstairs and downstairs.

Keep lighting, safety, and access in mind before remodeling and renovation. While it may seem unlikely a basement could make a suitable living space for seniors, with proper remodeling, your basement could help avoid separating from your parents.

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