When we think about a house, there are numerous little things we think of adding to the place for better functionality. These become crucial when there are elderly people living with us or when you are planning to grow old in your house with your family. Whatever the situation maybe if you are not careful with your planning and design, it can cost you big in the years to come. Luckily there are certain things or ideas that you can apply to make your home elder-friendly.
In the following sections, we will be discussing some ideas on how you can add functionality to your house that will benefit you and your family in your elder years. And if you are the kind of person who loves to keep up to date with the trends, no worries, we have you covered. These affordable upgrades will help you build a highly functional home without sacrificing style.
Don’t ignore the flooring
When it comes to floorings, there are different types of flooring options available for you to choose from. You can’t go wrong with any of those but in terms of benefits and functionalities (e.g. slip-resistant flooring), some floorings may serve you better than others. Slippery floors are dangerous and you can’t make your home elder-friendly with them. Not only does it make walking on the floor challenging, but it can also add a lot of risk such as the chances of getting into an accident.
Choosing soft and smooth surfaces such as cork, rubber, and linoleum floorings when making your floor slip-resistant is the prime concern. Smooth surfaces like these will also prevent elderly people from tripping as well as skidding. Also, be wary of level changes. Keep the surface as smooth as possible. If a level change is unavoidable, add a different material to signal them. Avoid using strong patterns and glossy or shiny surfaces so that it does not interfere with depth perception. For someone with impaired vision who is susceptible to tripping, it may become challenging to differentiate level changes. To solve this, paint different levels with different colors. However, you can also make your floor slip resistant by putting non-skid mats on the floor where it is needed.
A more flexible kitchen
The kitchen is one place where functionality matters the most. Your microwave, oven, freezer, and kitchen baskets are all in one place. For most people, it is not that much of a problem to access all the appliances and areas but the same can not be said for elderly people. Adjusting to different height levels as well as accessing complex kitchen appliances will not be an easy task for them especially if using a walker or wheelchair.
Switch to kitchen appliances with easy controls and simple-to-use push button interfaces. Make sure the kitchen cabinets are low enough and can be reached easily. If possible, switch to open cabinet designs for easy access to frequently used items. Also, widen the pathways to make your home elder-friendly so that people in a wheelchair or walker can move around easily.
Rethink the Bathroom
Yes, rethink the way you design or add functionality to your bathroom. It may not be easy for elderly people to use the bathroom the same way as most other people. The lack of support systems, slippery surfaces, and different height levels can make their lives a bit challenging, to say the least.
Make your home elder-friendly by opting for a curbless shower. This way you can meet everyone’s needs regardless of their age, mobility, and ability. Add slip-resistant flooring or mats in and around the shower area. Install grab bars in the shower, tub, and next to the toilet to prevent falls. U-shaped or vertical grab bars are better than the diagonal bars as there is less chance of skidding. Combine a sturdy back bracing mechanism if necessary. Spruce up your bathroom to make it more comforting and welcoming. Make bath time a peaceful time for them. For many elderly people, sitting on a bathroom floor or standing on a slippery surface can increase the chances of falls. Add a fold-down seat to the shower and install hand-held, adjustable height shower heads for easy accessibility.
The thing about doors
Doors are of the most important things to consider if you want to make your home elder-friendly. Issues such as twisting doorknobs may not be the first thing that comes into mind but this can become quite a task not only for elderly-people but for children also. It can get even worse for people with arthritis or other health conditions.
Simply replacing the existing twist-style door knobs with lever-style ones can make life easy for all the residents of the household. Opt for lever-style door knobs in the first place during the construction of a new home.
Light your house properly
Lighting is crucial especially when there are elderly people in the house. Lack of proper lighting in the staircase or entryway areas can be an invitation to trips and falls. This is one thing you don’t want to ignore if you want to make your home elder-friendly.
Light up all the areas of your house, especially the areas around the staircase and entryways. Elderly people may not have the same eyesight as the other members of the family. That’s why it is important to ensure proper ambient general lighting around the house. That way they won’t have any problems moving around furniture, reading books, or picking up medicine.
Security is important
Ensuring proper security is not only essential but also one of the first things that you should put in your list in order to make your home elder-friendly. Be it a medical emergency or a disaster caused by natural or man-made causes, there might be situations where ensuring the safety and security of the elderly will be the prime concern.
That is why it is important to install basic amenities such as fire alarms, security cameras, sprinklers, and so on. Elders who live on the top floors of a skyscraper can be at great risk during medical emergencies, fire breakouts, and other calamities. Add as many security features as you need to ensure their safety.
Opt for a little more
There are tons of things other than these that you can do or add to your home for safeguarding the elderly people from unwanted inconveniences. Opting for senior-friendly furniture such as choosing a chair or sofa that has a reclining back with adequate cushion support can make your home elder-friendly. Try avoiding furniture with sharp-edges and keep a chair, table, or bench nearby at entryways for putting things down.
As you can see, it is not that difficult of a task to make your home elder-friendly. Keep these aforementioned ideas in mind when you are upgrading or constructing your house and that should be enough.
Did we miss anything? What would you like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below.