Tips for Designing an Attractive and Functional Mother-in-Law Suite for Aging Parents



As you or your spouse’s parents begin to grow older, they may begin to struggle with living on their own. Yet they may also struggle with giving up their independence to move into an assisted living facility, nursing home, or other living arrangements. A good compromise that offers aging parents safety and independence is a mother-in-law suite in your home. Consider these four things for designing an attractive and functional mother-in-law suite for aging parents.

Decide on the Space

You might be thinking of simply turning a bedroom and bathroom that already exist in your home into a mother-in-law suite. Or perhaps you have a basement or garage that you can convert. These can all be viable choices for designing a mother-in-law suite.

However, if you don’t have an existing space or aren’t sure your existing spaces are suitable, you might want to consider home extensions. This will allow you to design and create a space from scratch that will be custom-made for your aging parents’ needs. It also tends to be more private for both your aging loved ones and you.

Create a Whole Living Space

Depending on your parent’s age and needs, you may be planning for them to take meals and spend free time with your family. If this is the case, you might think that providing a bedroom and bathroom is enough. But you should consider creating an entire living space, complete with a sitting area and a kitchen or kitchenette. This helps seniors maintain more of their independence even while living close to you.

Particularly if you’re adding home extensions, the more complete this space is, the better. First, it will provide your aging parents with more options regarding meals and how they spend their free time—something you may appreciate later if you all find you want a little less time together. Second, it will make the space more inviting if you should decide to rent it out to others at some future time.

Prioritize Safety

Aesthetics are great, but functionality matters when creating a space for aging parents. Choose flooring options that won’t be slippery. For example, carpeting is preferred over throw rugs, and tiles should have enough grit that they won’t get slick when wet. Make sure cooking appliances are ones that your aging parents are familiar with and can easily remember how to use. Install safety rails in the bathroom and on stairs, if there are any.

Keep height in mind as well. Don’t put cabinets too high, and make sure that beds and other furniture are a good height to be comfortable and easy for your parents to sit down on and get up from.

Consider Ease of Use 

An aging parent may not be able to easily reach up into a cabinet. Consider designing overhead cabinets that have shelves that slide out or down to move things within your parent’s reach. For under-the-counter cabinets, make them drawers instead. This way, your parents can simply pull out a drawer and lift out what they need instead of bending and stretching. You might also consider installing some sort of intercom system if you can find one that’s simple enough to use. This allows your parents to reach out to you for help if needed.

Whether it was their idea or not, if your aging parent is giving up living independently, a mother-in-law suite is a great way to allow them to retain some independence. Building home extensions offers both your family and your parents space and separation you all need. However, it also keeps your parents close enough for you to help in an emergency. Creating a space that is both beautiful and practical will help them adapt to their new living arrangement.


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