[ecis2016.org] As the inhabitants of a house age, the décor of the home may need to be modified to suit their needs. We look at some simple design dos and don’ts, vis-à-vis safety, accessibility and aesthetics that can make the home comfortable for senior citizens
As one ages, simple chores like reaching high shelves, climbing the stairs or getting up from the chair with ease, can become a task. Home owners who are ageing or have elderly parents or grandparents living with them, may need a home décor that is suitable for senior citizens. As comfort, safety and accessibility become key concerns, incorporating simple design changes that do not hinder the aesthetics, is essential.
You are reading: Design tips for elderly-friendly homes
“Studies have found that doing household chores, gives seniors a sense of purpose and contributes to both, their physical and mental well-being. In terms of design, one has to focus on helping active seniors to be as independent as they can. This means ensuring that they can carry out their activities with ease, simplicity in maintenance and housekeeping, reducing everyday risks and creating a safe home that supports active aging,” explains Nagesh Battula, founder and managing director, FHD (Fountainhead Design Group).
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Many seniors continue to contribute to their professions, through advisory or consultancy, even after their retirement. In such cases, a spare room can double-up as a home office, as well as a guest bedroom for visitors or extended family. “Interior decorations should, ideally, reflect the family’s aspirations and preferences. The overall décor of the room should be positive, relaxing and not remind one of ill health,” adds Battula.
Home security for senior housing
In today’s world, safety and security are key concerns. “To ensure the safety and security of the elderly, without compromising on enjoying a quality lifestyle, it is important to install basic amenities like security cameras, smart locks, burglar alarms, sprinklers, etc. Elderly residents living in top levels of a high-rise building, are at higher risk during medical emergencies, fire breakouts and other natural calamities. Hence, the builder or housing complex’s administration, should regularly coach and educate the ground level administration staff on quick, easy evacuation processes for the elderly during times of crisis,” maintains architect Alankrutha C, of N’Hance by Navin’s Housing.
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Home lighting for the elderly
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Elderly people may also not have the same vision as other people in the house. “Eyesight changes and common eye ailments, may require brighter and cooler lights and fewer yellow lights. Ensure that there is adequate ambient general lighting for safe movement around furniture, obstacles, etc. and focused lights for activities like reading books or instructions on medicines, etc.,” adds Battula. With technology, it is also possible to operate the lights, fans and air-conditioners using a single remote, which can make it easy for seniors.
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Furniture in the house, should be arranged such that there is sufficient space for seniors to move about freely. Keep items that are used often in lower cabinets, within easy reach. The furniture should enable seniors to carry on their daily lives easily. For example, a small shelf or table besides the bed, can be useful for keeping spectacles, phones, medicines and water. “High chairs or sharp-edged tables can be dangerous. Furniture with rounded edges and seating options with a good hand and neck rest, are ideal. Avoid fancy rocking chairs or furniture with a straight back, as this can cause uneasiness. Instead, opt for a sofa/chair that has a reclining back and sufficient cushion support. Lighting inside a cupboard, can also be useful,” says Alankrutha.
Flooring options for homes with senior citizens
The main criteria, when selecting flooring for home with seniors, is to ensure that it is not slippery, is easy to walk on and easy to maintain. Fashionable bathroom tiles or marble/ ceramic flooring in the house that is slippery, may not provide sufficient grip. In the bathroom, one can use anti-skid tiles. “Alternatively, use honed tiles or premium vinyl flooring in bathrooms that have a smooth base, as these are water-resistant materials. In the living room, it is better to avoid polished stone flooring or ceramic/ porcelain tiles, as it can be slippery when wet. If one already has such flooring and replacing the same is not possible, then, consider placing a carpet on the floor,” advises Alankrutha. The building should also cater to the mobility needs and safety requirements of the seniors, with ramps for wheelchairs and stairs with handrails or safety bars.
Décor tips for homes with seniors
- Avoid any loose rugs and floor carpet. You can secure the rugs, carpets and door mats, using anti-slip rug underlays.
- Dry bathrooms reduce the possibility of slipping. Ensure that the areas near the WC and wash basins are dry and that the wet area is confined to the shower area.
- A showerhead with adjustable height, is better for seniors.
- Provide good, even distribution of ambient lighting across the floor space, without creating glare.
- A comfortable and attractive area, for elderly to do their exercise, pray or pursue hobbies such as reading, knitting, painting, gardening, etc., can be a bonus.
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