How to decorate an assisted living apartment to make it feel like home.
Making Mom Comfortable: Senior Living Doesn’t Have to Equal Bland
When parents grow older and can no longer live alone, many turn to assisted living facilities. Each tiny cookie cutter apartment in the community sports the same neutral color scheme with identical off-white walls and beige floors. You’re not allowed to paint, but Mom has always taken pride in her decorating skills. Is there any way she can make this place feel like home? Absolutely. Here are some suggestions that will bring personality into her compact space and give her the feeling of home.
The first priority is to create a home that is a safe environment for your loved one. Throw rugs are fall hazards so they should be avoided and sharp-cornered tables can cause bruises and bumps. Coffee tables take up valuable floor space and may cause her to stumble, so it’s best to eliminate them if you see this being a concern. Rocking chairs may prove difficult for some to get in and out of if they’re a bit unsteady, so choose stationary chairs instead. Lift chairs can be the perfect solution for joints that don’t work as well as they once did.
Some fun and creative options for table space are cushioned ottomans. These great items can be used as a coffee table, as well as separated for additional seating. Think decorative trays on top for a flat and sturdy surface for drinks, food items, ect… Let mom choose a fabric that goes well with the room decor and style. The options are endless…
Arrange the furniture so it’s easy for Mom to reach the things she uses most often. Place the phone next to her favorite chair and one on the bedside table. Add a clock with large, easy to read numerals and put books, knitting materials, or other favorite items in a basket nearby. Use a large, colorful calendar to create a bright spot in the room and to help Mom keep track of dates. Bright colors and patterns will automatically help make a bland room more inviting.
Mom may have to give up most of the big pieces of furniture she’s had at home to keep her little apartment feeling spacious. Help her sell those items and use the proceeds to invest in smaller furniture that serve dual purposes. If she’d like to have the grandkids spend the night occasionally, a compact sofa bed is a good choice. Because storage is an issue, choose occasional tables and nightstands with drawers or shelves to hold often-needed items.
Let mom or dad make a contribution to a charity or good will. Donating furniture, or the money earned from selling certain pieces will give them a sense of purpose and pride. Ask them what pieces mean the most, and if certain furniture doesn’t fit in their new home offer to add them to your own living space. Making a point to keep important antiques or hand-me-downs in the family will help make the move easier.
Add in The Familiar
Family photos, a favorite colorful afghan, the Tiffany style lamp she loves, and other familiar touches will make the apartment feel more like home. Add accessories that reflect your parent’s life and will be conversation starters when guests come to call. If there’s room, place a curio cabinet in the living room where she can show off her prized collection of perfume bottles or postcards from around the world. These little touches make the new residence feel more like home and reflect your parent’s personality.
If possible, bring the bed from the old home to the new place. Add her favorite bed linens, avoiding trailing dust ruffles that might catch an unsteady foot, plump up the pillows, and turn back the covers. The familiar bed will make it easier to sleep peacefully in a strange space.
The small comforts of home can make a huge, positive difference. Keep these small details in mind, and take your time when decorating the new space. It should feel like a vacation away from the facility’s common areas.
Even though your mom is moving into assisted living quarters and leaving behind her former lifestyle, you can help her create a home that is uniquely hers. Pick fabrics that are her favorite color, show off a few select items she treasures, keep necessities handy, and make safety a priority. She’ll soon learn to love her new home and so will you.
Kelli McDonald is a blogger and writer for all things interior design. She also works for LuxeYard and their group discount furniture offers.
photo credit: Wonderlane via photopin cc