Checklist to Create An Elderly-Friendly Home
According to Statista, a German online portal for statistics, Singapore is currently facing an increasingly aging population. All of us are getting older, living in a country with one of the highest life expectancies in the world, and experiencing decreasing birth rates. The United Nations even stated that Singapore’s elderly will make up almost half of the population by 2050!
So what happens now?
One interior design investment we can think of is making our homes elderly-friendly – not just for ourselves, but also for our parents.
Here, we will look at a checklist that will help us make our home elderly-friendly because even if there are no elderly persons at home, we might get visits from them.
When it comes to supporting our aging relatives, it has to start from the ground up – the floor, I mean. Here’s your flooring checklist:
- Add non-slip flooring at the entryway of your home
- Add strips of contrasting colour on the floor, stairs or steps
- Repair uneven or cracked flooring (especially on tiles and or parts of vinyl that might peel off)
- If possible, create a no-rise entry with ramps at the entrance to your home (instead of a step)
- Add carpets in your home (in some areas like the living room, bedroom, or dining area) to help cushion accidents since the elderly are prone to falls that can be very dangerous to their bones.
- Ensure toys, gadgets and small items are not scattered on the floor
- Sweep the floor and clean the carpets often to prevent the accumulation of dust
Our eyes grow dim as we age. Some might suffer from cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma; others just need more light to see clearly. Whatever it is, it is our job as homeowners to create a safe space for everyone to live in. Here’s your lighting checklist:
- Ensure entryways are brightly lit
- Attach striplights under furniture, bed or staircase (include motion sensors if possible)
- Have ample lighting in rooms
- Fix cabinet lights in cabinets or cupboards
- If you have a staircase, install light switches at both bottom and top of the stairs
- Use large rocker-type switches that make it easy for those with arthritis to switch it on and off
- Do not get lights that are glaring or ones that might cause dizziness
- Have sufficient windows to allow natural light in (sunlight is very beneficial for the elderly), but also have curtains or blinds to avoid direct glare into your home
- Avoid fixing mirrors near light sources as the reflection can be blinding
Bathrooms can be pretty dangerous for the elderly as water makes any surface slippery. Even if they are well and able, a fall can paralyze them. Therefore, if there is one place you must make elder-friendly, the bathroom is the one. If you are taking care of an aging parent with mobility issues, bathrooms are the single most important space as it is where they get cleaned, and if possible, get some personal time. Here’s your bathroom checklist:
- Choose non-slip floor tiles or use a non-slip floor mat
- Add a grab bar or handrail at the shower and toilet bowl area
- Have the toilet seat fitted around 43 centimetres high so it won’t be so painful for the knees and back of the elderly.
- Ensure the bathroom door opens outwards instead of inwards. Just in case anything happens, you still can enter the bathroom and help. Or else, fix a sliding or folding door.
- Have a telephone extension in the bathroom, so it is easy to call for help if something were to happen. Alternatively, you can fix a call bell.
- Add strips of contrasting colour to your flooring, even in the bathroom (especially around the shower area)
- Ensure all items on the wall are securely fastened (grab rails, mirrors, and even the sink!)
- Use a lever style faucet, so to ease turning on the tap
- Add a fold-down seat or a stool in the shower so they can rest while they shower
- Add anti-scald water device in the shower to protect against injury
If the elderly spend most of their time in your home, it is highly likely that they will be fixing their meals. Be sure to make the kitchen and elderly-friendly space. Here’s your kitchen checklist:
- Ensure the flooring is non-slip
- Appliances should have clearly labelled on-and-off switches
- Have a surface where they can sit to prepare meals. Alternatively, add a stool they can sit as they do their chopping or other prep.
- Use a lever style faucet so, it’s easier to turn on the tap
- They might not like it, but an induction cooker hob instead of a gas cooker hob is better for safety reasons.
- Consider having lazy susan trays in cabinets, so it is easier for them to reach for items, instead of bending/arching over to find what they need
- Have what they need at eye level, so they don’t need to crouch down or use a step stool
- Consider having touch drawer systems where doors can pop out after being pushed. It helps those with arthritis.
- Label food items clearly. It is not unusual to hear the elderly mistaking salt from sugar
This is a general guideline to ensure your rooms (be it the store or the bedroom) is safe for the elderly. Here’s the all-rooms checklist:
- Ensure there is ample walking space on at least one side of the bed or bulky furniture
- Switches for lamps should be eye-catching and not too low or not too high from their reach
- Be mindful of plug points positioning (it will be easier for the elderly to charge their technology)
- Get furniture with rounded edges
Readers, we hope you’ll consider these points before you renovate your home. Even if you are not moving anywhere, you can still pick tips from this checklist to make your home comfortable for the elderly.
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