Designing a home that’s senior-friendly? While many seniors like to be independent, they need thoughtfully designed spaces to be able to live in comfort. Here are some important factors that you must keep in mind when modifying the home interiors for the elderly!
Carefully Consider Your Flooring Options
Safety and ease of maintenance should be important considerations when choosing the right flooring for the elderly. For elders with an unsteady gait, a non-slip surface is a must.
- Carpeted flooring is comfortable underfoot and offers to cushion in the event of a fall, but is not suitable for elders who are in a wheelchair. Do remember that carpets are also not easy to keep clean as they have to be vacuumed regularly, and they also get stained easily.
- Anti-skid vitrified or ceramic tiles are very easy to keep clean but do not offer a non-slip surface when wet.
- Especially in bathrooms, you should replace the tiles with flamed granite or a similar surface that has an even, rough texture.
- Vinyl floors are easy to maintain, and if you can add a layer of cork below you will get a cushioning effect in case of falls.
The colour of the flooring tile is also an important consideration. Whites and light colours do not show up water spills, and even a little water on the floor can cause a nasty accident.
If wheelchair access is a priority, then you should have wider doors and clear passageways in every room. The turning radius of a wheelchair is around 5 feet, so for easy manoeuvring, all passages should be at least 5 ½ to 6 feet wide. It’s a good idea to have doors that are at least 4 feet wide. If your rooms are on the smaller side, double doors work better than single doors. Also ensure that entryways have a ramp with a gentle slope, in addition to steps.
Many seniors find it hard to climb upstairs. If your house has two floors, and the elderly person needs to access both levels, then you can consider installing a stairlift. This is a mechanical device with a chair or a lifting platform that moves along a rail that’s mounted on the treads.
Installing Grab Bars
Grab bars are an essential safety feature in bathrooms for the elderly. Easy to install, they offer support when bathing and using the toilet. There are many varieties of grab bars; try to install ones that are bolted into the wall, as they are safer than the bars that are attached using suction cups.
Lighting Design For The Elderly
As we grow older, our eyesight deteriorates. Lighting should be cool and bright, and white light is preferred over yellow lights. These are some factors to keep in mind:
- Plan to add adequate ambient lighting for safe navigation around the house, and task lighting for reading books or other hobbies.
- A night lamp is a must in the bedroom so that trips to the bathroom are not made in the dark.
- Lighting and air conditioning switches can be operated using a remote.
- Staircase lighting is an important safety consideration.
A home for seniors should never be cluttered with too much furniture. Sharp edges and corners should be avoided, and chairs should be sturdy and properly balanced. Side tables next to the bed or bedside seating areas are useful for keeping spectacles, water, medicines and so on. All items inside the wardrobe should be easily accessible; a pull-down wardrobe lift is a useful accessory if rods are too high to reach. Easy chairs with fabric on the back, as shown below, are very comfortable seating options.
Replace Door Knobs With Lever Style Handles
While most of us do not give a second thought to the act of turning a doorknob, it can be very painful for those who have joint pain. Door levers are easier to open than a traditional knob, especially for arthritic hands. Gripping and twisting can be very painful for those who have limited range of motion. Choose a wide-grip lever that is easy to use.
Open Up The Views
Many elderly people are restricted to the house, and large windows or balconies are a lovely way for them to keep in touch with the outdoors. They should be able to get street views and views of the garden as much as possible. Windows should only have light shades so that plenty of sunlight can stream in, ensuring they get their daily dose of Vitamin D without even leaving their homes!
Redesign T-he Kitchen
Manual dexterity slows down as we age, and kitchen functionality must be designed keeping comfort in mind. The design must avoid bending or crouching as much as possible. Push open system on lower storage drawers can be installed to make opening and closing possible using the foot. Soft closing channels ensure that the shutters are always kept closed. Roll out trays can add to the accessibility of pantry items. Switch to appliances that are simple to use and have controls that are easy to operate. Sink faucets should be changed to a single lever so as to prevent scalds. Cabinet shutters can be replaced with glass, so that it’s easy to see what is inside without having to open the shutter, and it’s also a good idea to have cabinet lighting installed so that everything is clearly visible.
Add a High-Tech Home Security System
Especially when seniors are living alone, it’s important to ensure their safety and security by installing burglar alarms, security cameras, smoke alarms and so on. Windows should have safety bars and balcony grills should be a minimum of 4 feet high. Front door security cameras are also effective in enhancing home security. It’s very important to ensure that all these gadgets are easy to operate.
To sum up, it’s important to ensure that our senior citizens can live in their own homes with a high degree of independence and dignity. If you’d like help in designing safe, secure and comfortable living spaces for the not-so-young, connect with our home interiors team today!