Every home needs to be safe for all of its occupants. However, when kids, pets or seniors occupy a home, you need to take those safety measures up a notch. Here, we’ll focus on the last group – the elderly. If your current home needs some upgrades to accommodate your aging parents, or you are looking for elderly-friendly real estate to rent or buy, there are certain home features you should take into consideration. We want to share some ideas on what makes a home safer and more comfortable for its elderly residents. Let’s see what the most basic senior-friendly home features are and how you can implement them.
Senior-friendly home features for all rooms
- Stairs are particularly dangerous for the elderly and the disabled. Therefore, if they need to use stairs, there should be handrails on both sides. The steps should be clearly defined and well-lit.
- The furniture should be made of durable materials with rounded edges and fewer detachable parts.
- Choose appliances and devices with large fonts and buttons that are easy to read and use.
- Make sure there are no cables and other obstacles blocking the way, especially the circulation path and entrances. The more you declutter a senior’s home, the better
- People with some physical conditions find actions like turning the doorknob or light switch hard, even painful. So, lever-style hardware is a much better option for seniors than standard doorknobs. Levers work better on faucets, too. Also, try replacing a standard toggle light switch with a large, illuminated rocker switch.
Plenty of light
A senior normally needs 2-3 times more illumination compared to a younger person. In addition to staircases, hallways, doorways, and every corner of every room should have enough light to prevent deadly falls and other accidents. If possible, install light switches near the doors. We recommend 2-way switches with a height of 1200mm above floor level maximum. Lamps can be useful, too, especially by the bed. Avoid putting mirrors and other reflective surfaces near light sources, though.
The flooring is one of the most important things to inspect when buying a home. It is imperative to have slip-resistant floors throughout the whole house. Eliminate thresholds and other tripping hazards. Avoid sudden variations in floor level. Do not use marble, granite or glazed tiles. Low-pile carpeting is the safest option for people using a walker.
Senior-friendly bathroom features
The bathroom is the room in which most accidents happen. One has to put a lot of thought into designing a senior-friendly bathroom. If the current bathroom does not meet the criteria, consider renovation or even relocation. The bad news is that adding certain senior-friendly home features to a bathroom can be a little more expensive. To help a senior loved one move home temporarily, during the renovation, or permanently, make sure you hire professionals who specialize in senior relocation.
- A person with limited mobility will use a hand-held showerhead you can adjust to appropriate heights more easily than a fixed showerhead.
- If you are interested in renting or purchasing a home suitable for the elderly, a step-in shower is a better option than a tub.
- One of the ways to help seniors move around the bathroom and prevent falls is installing grab bars next to the toilet, in the shower and bathtub. Note that U-shaped, angle and vertical bars are a much better option than diagonal bars.
- Standing in the shower and sitting in the bathtub can be dangerous and uncomfortable for the elderly. A great senior-friendly home feature is a place to sit while taking a bath. Consider installing a fold-down seat or bench in the tub/shower. They come in different shapes, some even with padded backs. Extra lighting in the shower might be necessary, too.
- When it comes to the flooring, it needs to be designed with slip prevention in mind. If you already have slippery floor tiles, non-skid bath mats, non-slip strips, and bathmats with non-slip rug tape can be used throughout the room. Look for reliable, sturdy products at your local hardware store, while avoiding cheap, low-quality mats.
Senior-friendly kitchen features
It is never too early to start planning for your old age. It is also never too late to enjoy your hobbies. Unfortunately, accidents often happen in the kitchen area, too. Things like bending, crouching and spilling liquids cause most kitchen accidents. But that does not mean seniors who love to cook should stop doing it. All they need are some senior-friendly home features in their kitchen.
Senior-friendly home features:
- One of the characteristics of an elderly-friendly kitchen is increased accessibility. All the items in the pantry should be easy to see and reach. So, opt for glass cabinet doors and open shelves.
- To avoid water burns, install pressure-balanced valves. This way, water temperatures will be steady regardless of pressure fluctuations. Furthermore, the hot water heater temperature should be set at 120 degrees. In case there are any water pipes that are exposed, consider insulating them. A tap with a lever handle and a flexible pull-out hose is another elderly-friendly home feature to consider.
- With a side swing or wall oven, your elderly loved ones won’t have to worry about holding heavy items above the hot oven door.
- Slippery kitchen floors are a serious hazard. It is a good idea to install slip-resistant flooring. Some high-quality materials offer slip-resistance even when dirty or wet. Marble and granite are materials we wouldn’t recommend. Ceramic tiles made with grit and quarry tiles are far more reliable. ccmover.com can help you store your kitchen appliances and furniture until the flooring is redone and the kitchen is ready for use. A cheaper idea is to place rugs on the floor, one by each door and one by the sink, for wiping feet and absorbing water.
- If someone uses a wheelchair or a walker, the pathways around the kitchen island should be at least 48 inches wide (instead of the standard 36). Alternatively, the island can be substituted with a peninsula.