Making Your Home Elderly-Friendly: What are the Considerations?

Last Updated on August 17, 2020

Buying a home is often a priority and achievement for young people. But as you grow older, the once safe and enjoyable space can become a scary and dangerous one. Increasingly, many seniors are opting to stay in their homes; a familiar, comfortable place, near their circle of community and friends where they are able to keep up their daily routines. But sometimes, this arrangement can become a source of stress instead of comfort.

How can seniors keep their homes, friends and routines?

The key is evaluating the home to determine the changes needed to provide friendlier elder living conditions. Home modification should focus on increasing the following elements:

  • Mobility
  • Safety
  • Self-reliance/Self-sufficiency
  • Security
  • Convenience/comfort

Let’s explore natural ways of making your home an elderly-friendly and safe place again.

1. Mind the Movement

Rearrange your home and especially the living room layout to create more space for the seniors to move around without bumping into furniture. 

Opt for clutter-free, clean and bright arrangements that ensures an easy thoroughfare. For example, a round centre table and an L-shaped sofa are uniquely crafted and spaced to provide free passage and still give a room an elegant layout. Arrange your furniture in a strategic position where they don’t interrupt the rest of the room space and traffic flow.

2. Consider the Furniture

Choose furniture with rounded seating options and edges with a good neck and hand rest for comfort. Avoid furniture with a straight back since they cause uneasiness, while low furniture may make it harder for the older person to sit down and get up independently. Instead, opt for furniture with the standard height or slightly higher.

For the bedroom furniture, ensure the bed has the correct height such that their feet can reach the floor once they sit on the mattress edge. To add the bed height, you may opt for a thick mattress.

3. Focus on Better Lighting

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Older adults may suffer from poor vision due to changes in eyesight and other common eye ailments; hence, they may require cooler and brighter lights. Ensure every room in the home has proper lighting. Adequate lightning enables the elderly to easily find their way around and minimizes the risk of injury.

In the bedroom, place the bed near the window to maximize natural light. During the evenings, ensure the room has a wall tube light and a lamp on the bedside. Focus on having task lighting in the kitchen, medicine cabinets and bookshelves. With technology, you can efficiently operate the lights with a single remote, making it easier for the seniors.

4. Secure Landing Spaces

For the older people living in houses with more than one level, it can easily become dangerous. Install handrails and balustrades to give additional support. The rails should have a diameter of one-and-half inches to accommodate the ageing grip. Set up a resting spot on the stairs where they can sit down, relax and catch a breath.

Lighting in the stairs is also critical; ensure the stairways are lit from the bottom to the top and have the steps defined to show the edges. This will prevent falls.

5. Better Baths

Safe and accessible bathrooms keep the older person protected and independent. Many falls and slips happen in and around the shower and bathroom areas. Think about using anti-skid tiles, premium vinyl flooring or honed tiles with a smooth base and water-resistant materials to prevent falling. 

For better grip, place grab bars in the toilet, shower and tub. Use the U-shaped, angle or vertical bars instead of the diagonal ones. The diagonal bars can create hand slippage, increasing the risk of failing. You can add back bracing to the walls near the grab bar to ensure it can support around 250-300 pounds.

Make shower time easier by adding a fold-down bench or seat in the cubicle. Some bathroom seats come with padded back giving extra comfort while others have extended outside structure for accessible bath entrance and exit. Install adjustable height, hand-held shower heads with a stronger six-foot hose to easily direct the water where it’s needed for the elderly with limited mobility.

6. Don’t Forget the Kitchen

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Ageing persons deserve to enjoy a functional kitchen with increased accessibility and minimized crouching and bending. 

Start by replacing the appliances with ones that are easy to control and use push-button interfaces. Convert the oven into a wall or side swing to allow easy access and prevent heavy lifting of items. Microwave drawers can become a great addition since they increase access and functionality. 

Ensure access to the pantry by changing the shelves from closed to open design, converting the cabinets doors into glass one to ensure easy identification of items and using a roll-out tray to increase accessibility. 

On the faucets, install pressure-balanced valves to ensure the water provides a steady flow despite pressure fluctuations. Set the sink’s hot water temperature to a maximum of 120 degrees. Insulate all the exposed hot water pipes. Convert the kitchen faucet into single levels and opt for pedal-controlled faucets for more comfortable use.

7. Create Lounging Spaces

Older adults love to have quiet and comfortable lounging spaces like a balcony for them to soak in and enjoy the sunlight while sipping their tea or catching up with their friends. On the lounging areas, put chairs with armrests and backrest for support. You may opt for a sturdy and stable swing for more fun in a relaxed manner. 

Keep the air and heating well-controlled by having heating and air conditioning repair experts advise on the best materials to keep the air and heat well circulated.

8. Improve on Communication 

Better connectivity and communication is essential especially during emergencies. Put a fixed telephones in every corner of the room, also ensure the elderly have mobile connectivity for on the go secure communication.

9. Go Easy on the Hands

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For the older people, arthritis and other connective tissue illnesses can make daily and straightforward tasks like opening doors, tedious. Avoid fancy doorknobs and replace them with levers-style ones for comfort and easy usage.

Use some of the above suggestions to ensure an elderly friendly home. Paying a little attention to the details of the home will make lots of difference to ageing loved ones.

Have you used any of the above suggestions? Perhaps we missed out on some fantastic ideas? Let us know your best tips.  

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Amanda Kay

Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.

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