Designing an Elderly-friendly Home: 6 Essential Tips to Consider

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As you age, chores that once required little to no effort can become challenging. But for seniors, having a sense of purpose is critical for their physical and mental well-being. And as studies have shown, doing household chores can help them tremendously to this effect. 

elderly working on a laptop

The right home design is critical to help seniors be as independent as possible. Factors like safety, comfort, and accessibility are vital elements in an elderly home design. Whether you’re aging or have elderly family members living with you, it’s crucial to ensure your home décor is suitable for seniors. This involves simplicity in housekeeping and maintenance and reducing safety hazards. 

In this article, you’ll learn some tips on creating a home design that can accommodate an older person’s needs. 

Improve surfaces and floors

Slips, trips, and falls frequently happen among people over 60. As you age, your body gets weak and more fragile, and maintaining balance becomes difficult. Floors like marble, polished ceramic, and tiles can pose risks for older people. The solution would be to put in more carpets and rugs in high traffic areas. But when doing this, ensure they are stable on the ground so that they don’t cause tripping. You can also consider softening up surfaces, as they can cushion the body in case an accident happens. 

The bathroom is a hazardous area, but you can easily turn it into a senior-friendly space by using anti-skid mats. Also, consider replacing the bathroom flooring with anti-skid tiles. If your bathroom has a smooth base, it’s best to use premium vinyl flooring in the design because they are water-resistant. As for the living room, you should avoid ceramic tiles or polished stone flooring, as they can also lead to slips when they are wet. 

Pick the ideal lighting 

As you age, your eyesight changes and this is why it’s essential to use cooler lights and fewer yellow ones. Overhead lights are exquisite, but they are impractical in designing an elderly-friendly home. Since they aren’t bright enough, they cannot illuminate every room area, troubling elders with weak eyesight. You can complement the lighting with brighter options that will eliminate shadows or accentuate details such as sharp edges. You can install various such lights around your home to maximize the effect. 

Another tip is to add contrasting or colored lights, as they can improve perception and differentiate areas. However, glossy surfaces such as granite kitchen worktops can lead to harsh glares due to these lights. In such a case, you can mute the effect by using a matte finish. Or, you can use accessories like runners or table mats. 

Technology improves many areas in people’s lives, and luckily, it can do the same for seniors. For instance, they can use a single remote to operate the air-conditioners, lights, and fans. 

Consider safety and security

If your parents live alone or stay alone at home while you’re at work, it’s essential to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety. Security is paramount for elders because they usually choose home delivery services for food, groceries, and other necessities. Elders who live in apartments on the upper floors are the most vulnerable because it’s more common for guards to show up on the ground floor. Plus, they are also at a higher risk when it comes to medical emergencies, such as fire breakouts. Consider installing video cameras in areas like the main door and gate. You may also want to add a burglar alarm system and double secure your home by adding a smart lock.

When it comes to elders’ safety, it’s imperative to think about their health. As people age, there’s a gradual decrease in mental and physical capacities. Elders may develop health conditions like back and neck pain, diabetes, hearing loss, or depression. Since you can’t be physically present all the time, it’s vital to consider how you can look after your aged loved ones when you’re away.

Luckily, Telemedicine is a growing component of the healthcare system. And it’s no surprise since it has numerous benefits, including comfort, convenience, and chronic condition management. Thus, consider telemedicine solutions to ensure your aged loved ones are safe. You can buy them a tablet or a laptop to communicate with their clinician. Doing this will put your mind at ease, as you know a trusted professional takes good care of the senior’s health. 

Choose senior-friendly furniture

If the house lacks an appropriate infrastructure, older people can be constrained to specific spaces. This can affect their physical and mental health, so finding the right solutions is vital. The areas should be clean and obstacle-free so that the older person has enough space to move around. Therefore, pay attention to how you arrange the furniture in your home, as it should allow seniors to carry on their lives with ease. For instance, a table or small shelf beside the bed would be a practical solution to keep water, medicines, and spectacles handy. 

Sharp-edged tables or high chairs can pose risks, so ideally, you should choose furniture with curved edges. When it comes to seating options, it’s best to pick something with a good neck and hand rest. Furniture with a straight back and fancy rocking chairs can cause uneasiness, so do your best to avoid them. Instead, choose a chair or a sofa with sufficient cushion support and a reclining back. 

Update the kitchen 

Manual dexterity isn’t the same when you get older. Therefore, comfort is an essential element when it comes to kitchen functionality. The design should by no means include crouching or bending. You can install lower storage drawers or a push-open system to make opening and closing effortless.  

Choose appliances that are easy to use, with control that elders can efficiently operate. To prevent scalds, you should change sink faucets to a single lever. Additionally, it’s best to replace cabinet shutters with glass. This allows elders to see what it’s inside without opening the shutter. 

Change door knobs with lever handles

Turning a doorknob sounds as easy as pie when you think about it. But for seniors who have joint pain, the act can be truly painful. Luckily, there’s a practical solution for this. Instead of a traditional knob, choose a door lever. They are easier to open, being perfect for people with arthritis.  Also, twisting and gripping can be painful for people with a reduced range of motion. So, it’s best to go for a wide-grip lever that can be used effortlessly. 

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