Ageing in Place: 6 Ways to Make a Home Safe for Seniors
Are you building a new house suitable for you as you enter your golden years? Or are you renovating your home to make it safe for your parents who want to stay with you and age in place? Here are several ways to create an elderly-friend home.
Mind the traffic flow.
Arrange or rearrange your living room layout to create adequate space for seniors to move around without tripping or bumping into furniture. Instead of getting a hefty couch, opt for an L-shaped sofa and a small round centre table. If cleverly spaced, these furniture pieces allow free passage while maintaining an elegant layout. You can also ditch the centre table if your senior loved one uses a wheelchair or cane. You can place a console table near the L-shaped sofa instead.
Ensure areas are well-lit.
You don’t want you or your ageing parent to have a bad fall because of a poorly-lit staircase or walkway. So make sure all areas of your home are well-lit. Lights should be ample but not too much that they’re glaring and affect the vision of the elderly.
When installing lighting fixtures, pay close attention to stairways, bathrooms, reading areas, outdoor areas and workspaces like the kitchen and the garage. If you’re planning to build a granny flat to boost your ageing parent’s independence, make sure the entire area & the walkway to the main house are well-lit. Also, use large rocker-type light switches. They’re easy and convenient to use when you have arthritis or when your hands are full, so you need to use your elbow to turn the lights on.
Select high beds and chairs.
Seniors may find it hard to get up and sit independently on a low bed or chair. So, in their bedroom, install a bed with a bit more height; their feet should easily reach the floor whenever they’re seated on the edge of the mattress. The same goes for the chairs in their bedroom, dining room or other common areas. Never go for a low-seating dining table or fill the lounging areas with bean bags or ottomans.
Add grab bars & benches to the bathrooms.
A bathroom is full of safety hazards for senior citizens. So it’s vital to install grab bars near the toilet to offer additional support for sitting down or getting up. The grab bars can double as a towel rail, but don’t use an existing towel rail as a grab bar. Most towel rails aren’t fastened securely enough to handle a person’s weight.
Also, install a bench in the shower area. Wet floors and slippery soaps can be dangerous for seniors; it’d be safer for seniors to take showers while seated. Want to go the extra mile? Install slip-resistant, durable flooring on the entire bathroom.
Secure landing spaces.
If your home has a stairway, installing balustrades & handrails for support may not be enough. You must also secure landing spaces with slip-resistant floor mats. Consider setting up a resting spot between floors, too. That way, the elderly can sit down for a few minutes to catch their breath. Turn that resting spot into cosy nooks, and they can enhance the aesthetic value of often under-utilised landing spaces.
Install doorbells and alarms with strobe light alerts.
Hearing can be an issue as people age. So instead of installing regular smoke detectors and security alarms, opt for models that use strong strobe light alerts along with an audible sound to alert people with hearing problems. When shopping for good doorbells, look for one that is audible in all rooms. That way, your senior loved one can hear the doorbell and answer the door wherever they are in the house.