Aging in place provides seniors with freedom, comfort, and a sense of security in familiar surroundings. While it’s great for emotional wellbeing, some adaptations are required in order to make that surroundings age-friendly in every other way.
What Is the Elder-Friendly Home Design?
By the time you reach golden age, your young adult strength drops significantly—even halves. The velocity of movement significantly reduces as well as the radius and the muscle power. In addition, fatigability increases. Still, most healthy individuals can lead quite an independent life for a long time, sometimes until their last days. That being said, as long as their needs related to mobility issues are adequately met.
So, what can you do to make a home elder-friendly?
Elder-Friendly Doors and Windows
Wide doors grant easy access, especially when equipped with a hands-free sensor (swivel internal doors are also an alternative). If you use standard doors with handles, opt for levers or sink handles rather than knobs.
Windows should ideally be placed lower to the floor with easy operating access. The more natural light can flow through the room, the better. And in case there is a need for shutters, consider electrical, button-operated systems.
A properly designed floor is one of the crucial features in a senior-safe home. In general, all surfaces should be smooth, slip-resistant, and ideally matte to avoid glaring. That is particularly important in kitchens and bathrooms, typically clad in ceramic or stone tiles. If possible, avoid polished surfaces and opt for textured, brushed, or honed finishes instead.
Small tiles require a lot of grouting, providing additional slip resistance. In addition, make sure all your rugs and mats come with a layer that sticks them to the floor; or secure them with double-sided tape instead.
Safe & Accessible Elder-Friendly Bathrooms
Most bathroom accidents include falls, due to inadequate flooring or the lack of proper support. Installing a few simple grab bars around will significantly reduce such risks. Place them both inside and outside the shower/tub, as well as around the toilet seat (unless you are using the seat with its own support). A walk-in shower is an ideal design for seniors, as it places no obstacle on the floor. Also, consider a fold-down seat inside the cabin for more convenient use.
If you prefer a bathtub, pick one with a lower profile or a specialized design with a “door.” Complete the arrangement with a reliable, quality fold-down seat in the shower and a lowered bathtub for more convenient use.
Elder-Friendly Home Design & Decoration
Use contrasts in colours and textures to accentuate any change in surface levels, especially on the stairs and in small denivelations.
Clutter can be a real problem in seniors’ homes. Not only that it stands in the way of getting other stuff, but it can also act as a dangerous obstacle. Elder-friendly home design requires an abundance of proper storage that will help maintain the space clutter-free and trip-proof. The cabinets and wardrobes should be accessible and easy to handle without much strength. All furniture, including beds and sofas, should have enough clearance to allow manoeuvring with a walker or in a wheelchair.
Moreover, place a bench near the front door, along with a cabinet or another flat surface area to place parcels or bags.
Ensure that every corner is exceptionally well-lit. A sensor-operated night light is a valuable asset, especially between a bedroom and a bathroom. In addition, a grab bar or two along the corridors can also come in handy in various situations.
A smart-home system can make any senior’s life much easier. Digitalizing and remote controlling allow them to keep everything under control, simultaneously eliminating the need for excessive physical effort.
Elder-Friendly Home Design is a Necessity
Elder-friendly home design is a necessity, an investment to a safer and possibly longer life. A properly adapted house promotes the concept of aging-in-place, providing the possibility of high-quality life regardless of mobility capacities. In other words, it allows a person to remain independent, functional, and socially active for many years to come.