Safe, age-appropriate living
If you want to grow old in your own home, you must ask yourself at some point whether an age-appropriate lifestyle is possible in your apartment or house. And preferably before it becomes an urgent issue and you are forced to re-assess. We show you how to modify and optimise your own home to meet an elderly person’s needs.
Falls are probably the greatest danger in elderly people’s homes. All flooring must therefore be non-slip. You can fix rugs to the floor using adhesive tape (this is particularly important in bathrooms and on stairs) and anti-slip strips can be attached to tiles for added safety. Even the slippers of those who are no longer fully mobile should have non-slip soles, while rubber mats with suction pads will provide stability in the shower and bath.
A house with several floors is convenient when sharing your home with children, ensuring that every generation has enough space and privacy. But if your children have long since left home and you are getting older, stairs can become exhausting and dangerous. Depending on your level of immobility, there are everyday remedies for this. Firstly, a sturdy, non-slip handrail will of course help you go up and down stairs safely. A ramp can be installed to bridge any small steps up to the front door. If people are dependent on a wheelchair, a stair lift can also make life easier. In addition, you can of course consider whether you can live entirely on the ground floor, so that you no longer have to climb any stairs.
Not only can mobility decrease with age, but vision can also deteriorate. This is why an age-appropriate home should also be well lit. It is important to achieve a good balance between bright, direct and soft, indirect lighting. A bright overhead light ensures that older people can clearly see all the details of their surroundings, while indirect lighting is better for their eyes and helps them relax.
Motion sensors are a good solution and hugely beneficial. It helps if the light comes on automatically, especially in the hallway when coming in from outside and adjusting to different lighting conditions, as well as on the stairs and in the bedroom. A night light in the bedroom or light strips on the wall also help the elderly to find their way around and make it safe to go to the toilet at night.
The bathroom is probably the room that poses the greatest danger for the elderly, with smooth tiles that become even more slippery when wet, minimal space and sharp edges that can result in additional injuries if they fall. As well as the non-slip flooring mentioned already, you can also make a bathroom safer by attaching grab rails to the wall near the toilet and shower. These make it easier to sit down and stand up. A raised toilet seat also helps with this. A tub shortener will stop you from involuntarily slipping down the bath. A folding seat can provide additional comfort in the shower. If you need a larger shower to make it easier to get in and out, you can also have the bathroom redesigned to make it age-appropriate. Many people no longer need a bath as they get older. There are solutions for this that don’t require you to renovate the entire bathroom, for example the bath can be removed and the shower enlarged.
In principle, you should make sure that there are no trip hazards in an age-appropriate home (such as the famous tangled cables under the TV, for example) and that small items of furniture are not in the way when walking around. Sturdy furniture with firm armrests will help when standing up. In general, raised furniture is practical for the elderly because it makes it easier to get up (especially from bed in the morning when their circulation may not yet be as it should be).
For older people who are not afraid of modern technology, smart home solutions can provide assistance and assurance in the home. For example, lamps, heating, blinds and even the radio can easily be controlled by voice command. This does of course require them to trust the technology to a certain extent.
The following articles on furnishing might also interest you:
Furnishing your apartment: tips and tricks
Furnishing your living room: nice and cosy
Furnishing your bedroom: our tips
Designing your kitchen: what to keep in mind
Designing your bathroom: our ten tips
Furnishing guest rooms: feels like home
Furnishing your first apartment: our tips