Senior Living: Decorating a Lovely Apartment For Aging Parents

4 Hours
If you’ve ever dealt with the complexities of senior living, you know decorating a lovely apartment for aging parents can be a challenge. Here’s one plan.
Sometimes being a caregiver involves interior decorating.

That’s right – it’s not all doctors’ appointments and making sure meals are prepared!

I’ve procrastinated writing this post for a few days, because it’s deeply personal and I really haven’t decided yet how much I’ll share. But since many of you are at a similar stage in life as me, I thought it’s something you might well understand.

When it comes to talking about myself, I’m pretty much an open book, but talking about a loved one – well, that’s another matter entirely.  There are issues of respect, privacy and maintaining dignity.  So, I’ll tread carefully.
Let’s just say my mom has memory issues.

I’m quite fortunate to have both my parents alive, well into their 80’s. My dad and I are super close, even though they live over an hour away and he’s wanted to move closer for years.

Mom…  not so much.  She’s very attached to her life in her home town and has refused, rather vehemently, to move closer to the rest of the family.

But now that things are changing and it’s not so easy to do the things they used to do, her strong will is a bit more malleable.  Add to that the fact that dad needs help caring for her and you can understand why we’re embarking on this next project.
My parents, it turns out, got an apartment right in the next town!

To keep mom happy and make the transition easier, they’re keeping their house for a while. Once she acclimates (*fingers crossed*) they’ll sell the house and be nearby full time.  But for now, the acquisition of this new apartment means it needs to be outfitted for comfort, but even more importantly, with a respect for mom’s taste so she’ll feel at home.

For me, of course, this challenge has been a joy to undertake, not only because this is my comfort zone, but also because it’s a delight to try to set up their home with everything they love in mind. It’s a bit weird to do this without her input, yet it underscores what I love so much about decorating a home: it affords the opportunity to make one’s surroundings provide comfort and pleasure, while taking care to reflect one’s taste.
That last part’s an easy one, because mom’s taste is easy to read.  She loves blue and white and everything French.  A little trickier is trying to decide how much to spend on the furnishings when it’s quite possible that they will quickly decide to move for good and then they’d have a house full of existing furniture the could’ve used. Yet decorating this apartment to enchant my mom is critical to the challenge of convincing her to stay there.

So, there you have the conundrum.  How to decorate a part-time senior living apartment on a tight budget while making it look like a beautiful French country home.  Below is what I came up with.  To keep this post from getting too long, I’ll focus on the living room today, but I’ll be posting more as the rest of the apartment takes shape.
The primary goal was to style the living room so that mom would be wowed the moment she walks in.  In order to do that I needed lots of blue and white chinoiserie, so while the pillows and vases are not essentials, they are certainly where I began. I chose inexpensive repros, not wanting to be wasteful, always acknowledging that they might be moving their own furnishings in soon.  I also had started out with a navy sofa, but switched to white since this bigger ticket item will wind up in my basement entertainment room if they wind up bringing their own sofa here.

The blue and white rug was also a key item, and one they would keep, even after a full move. Next I filled in with plenty of gold and a pretty French landscape print as a lovely focal point. You can find all of the sources below and be sure to check back for the master bedroom later this week.

Have any of you been in this same position caring for aging parents?

For more blue and white decor, click HERE and HERE.

For links to the products used in this room, please visit the original post at the link below.
Lory @ Designthusiasm
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Pat Ruge Pat Ruge on Aug 31, 2017
    What a wonderful way to create a transitional period for your mother to acclimate herself. I suspect, once situated, she will wonder why she didn't do it sooner. Being a caretaker is not easy, but you are wise to get them closer. It will make your (family's) job so much easier and with a lot less frustration. God be with you and yours.

    • Lory @ Designthusiasm Lory @ Designthusiasm on Sep 01, 2017
      Thanks so much, Pat! We finally made the actual move today, so I will be posting soon the way it all came out. Meanwhile, dad is thrilled and even mom seems to be getting used to it... :-)

  • KatAych KatAych on Sep 01, 2017
    Both my husband and I work in the senior living field, so I can truly appreciate what you're going through. Lovely to have them closer to you -- lots of resources out there as well -- both for family members and family caregivers that offer various techniques and tools in dealing with older adults with memory issues. Best of luck to you -- your ideas sound wonderful!