Whether you are living with the elderly or helping older parents modernize a room, the decor of their home may need to be adapted to their needs and comfort.
Many active seniors value independence. They should be able to carry out their activities – from housework to maintenance – with ease and simplicity.
Here are some design and furniture ideas to help create a senior-friendly home:
Keep the ground level
Raised floors such as thresholds and steps can pose a hazard that can lead to tripping hazards.
Mr. Ivan Lin, interior designer and director of Aart Boxx Interior, said: “Keep the floor as level as possible and avoid curbs or raised platforms. If floors of different heights are required, consider a ramp instead. “
This is especially useful if someone has to use a wheelchair at home.
Consider non-slip floor tiles or treatments
Tiles like marble and polished stone floors look great, but often don’t offer enough grip, which can lead to slips and falls. In the bathroom and kitchen in particular, non-slip tiles should ideally be laid.
Mr. Lin said, “However, rough tiles can be slippery if they come in contact with soap and water. Homeowners can consider a nano anti-slip treatment, a solution that increases friction even when the floor is wet or soapy.
“However, it should be reapplied every two to three years.”
Mount railings or handholds
At the same time, consider installing rails in the bathroom for extra support. These are also useful in sidewalks and if your home has stairs or steps.
Bathrooms can be fitted with benches or shower chairs for a more comfortable and safer shower experience.
Watch out for sharp edges
Not only should the placement of furniture not hinder the movement of seniors, but also pay attention to objects with sharp edges.
Compact, rounded pieces of furniture create more freedom of movement and are less dangerous.
Avoid loose carpets
Carpets and rugs feel soft and cuddly underfoot, but can also contribute to the risk of falling if they are loose or have curled edges. If the elderly resident prefers them, add non-slip carpeting to keep them in place.
Aging is often associated with changes in vision and eye diseases. Adequate and even distribution of ambient lighting without glare is critical – think of brighter, cooler lights than dim, amber lights.
Targeted lighting in closets or on functional areas such as countertops can help to find items easily and avoid accidents.
Such lights can relieve a senior’s eyes if the intensity and direction are adjustable.
In addition, light switches should be placed within easy reach (or arm’s length) of the entrance.
Avoid clutter and create accessible storage
Clutter in the house increases the risk of bumping into objects and requires additional time to look for items. While you want enough space, you want to keep it accessible. Base cabinets with drawers and long wall cabinets make it easier to get things out without stretching or having to climb onto a stool.
Opt for furniture with height and support
When it comes to chairs, sofas, and bed frames, choose ones that are tall enough to allow the elderly to stand up or sit down with ease.
Chairs and armchairs should ideally have a backrest high enough to support the lumbar spine – skip the ones with uncomfortable straight backs.
A stool is also great for supporting your feet to improve blood circulation.
For aging adults with arthritis, doorknobs can literally be a pain. Replace them with levers to make life easier for seniors.
This article was first published in Singapore Women’s Weekly (www.womensweekly.com.sg).