It is said that home is where the heart is, yet as we age, places that once felt safe and comfortable may not evoke the same feelings of security. As interest in aging in place increases, seniors and their families recognize the importance of creating more comfortable and efficient environments that enable continued independence.
Discover ways to design a home that will allow one to age in place – a home that will reduce injuries while providing maximum comfort and allow for more relaxed, worry-free living.
Interior design changes for aging in place
Relocating or completely renovating an existing home is not always ideal or possible. Many seniors prefer to remain in the home they love and are familiar with, but the environment may no longer meet all their needs. Fortunately, there are several ways that an existing house and its rooms can be easily adapted to better support aging in place.
The kitchen poses several considerable risks for older adults who love to cook, but there are several upgrades that can be made to make aging in place more pleasant.
Non-slip floor mats
Anti-fatigue floor mats – which provide a non-slip surface – ensure a more comfortable, safer standing surface and are gentler on the joints.
For older adults, bending down to rummage through a cabinet or misplaced items in drawers is not ideal or safe. Installing a pullout pantry to lower cabinets for storing canned goods, heavy pots and pans, and other items is the most convenient solution.
Upper shelves can also be organized similarly. For example, in place of pullout drawers, pulldown cabinets can be installed to reduce reaching.
Shallow or roll-under sink
Install a shallow (6′′ deep) sink with a hands-free faucet or a lever handle to limit reach. Furthermore, an anti-scald device can be connected to reduce the risk of dangerous burns. If a loved one is wheelchair-bound, you could install a roll-under sink.
Raising the dishwasher’s height will reduce the strain on the back when unloading or loading.
Pay attention to the lighting, and make sure it is adequate for illuminating your workspace. Additionally, consider LED lighting to reduce eye strain. Traditional light switches can be replaced with rocker switches since they are easier to operate.
The living room
The living room must be uncluttered in order to ensure safe, walkable passageways without fear of injury. By removing loose throw rugs that could cause slipping as well as rearranging furniture, seniors will be able to navigate more easily as they age in place.
In the living room or bathroom, stylish and practical grab bars can provide assistance when needing to stand up or sit down.
Another option that can help seniors get up and down from furniture more safely is a lift chair— a great option if you’re hesitant about installing grab bars in the living room.
Ideally, bedrooms should be a haven of peace, calm and safety when it comes to aging in place. Similar to the living room, eliminate loose area rugs to prevent injuries. If possible, replace area rugs and hard flooring with plush carpet to help reduce joint discomfort and lessen chances of falling.
Organization of closets can be difficult for seniors due to the out of reach placement of several items. Plan your wardrobe in such a way that everything is at your fingertips when you stand in a comfortable position. With an adjustable closet rod, you can hang your clothes at a more convenient height. In addition, hanging closest organizers can reduce the need to bend over to gather clothes from a drawer.
Closet resting space
It’s essential to add a resting place in the closet or bedroom area. Preparing for the day can be tiring, and having a place to quickly sit down and rest will often come in handy for seniors. You can also install grab bars around the chair or stool to make it easier to stand and sit down when needed without injury.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that falls are responsible for around 80% of bathroom injuries, and elderly individuals suffer the highest rates. In addition, a study found that bathing, showering and getting out of the tub were the most dangerous activities, but toileting also posed dangers.
As in the rest of the house, grab bars are also extremely useful in the bathroom. A grab bar can offer extra support to prevent falls and injuries while getting in and out of the shower as well as using the commode.
Anti-slip shower stickers
You can prevent falls in the shower or bathtub by applying anti-slip shower stickers directly to the floor of the facility, as opposed to a slippery mat.
Raised toilet seat
Seniors with limited mobility who are aging in place are susceptible to injury when they stand up and sit down from the toilet. It is possible to reduce risks by using a comfortable raised toilet seat.
Handheld showerheads are easier to use and provide a more comfortable bathing experience. As a result of their greater maneuverability, they offer better accessibility to seniors who have to sit while they bathe and require less movement for those who stand.
You may not always be able to install a new walk-in shower to eliminate having to step over the tub. Alternately, grab bars for entering and exiting the shower, such as bathtub safety clamps, can help facilitate balance.
By following these manageable and practical design tips in your home, you can support your desire to live independently and provide a safe and comfortable living environment for aging in place.