October 01, 2013
People are living longer and healthier lives and want to enjoy their homes surrounded by furnishings they've gathered over many years. Even when dwellings have to be modified for seniors with limited mobility or other impairments, there's comfort in home decor, including hardwood floors like Anderson's Haversham collection, that's classic and long-lasting.
A growing movement is addressing situations like these by focusing on "aging in place," which is living independently for as long as seniors can keep up with the demands of maintaining their residences. The number of senior citizens who choose to keep their own homes is expected to increase significantly as the aging population grows.
The day-to-day activities in the typical senior citizen's home requires the same energy and easy access needed in other households. But health conditions may require changes in the home design to allow for physical limitations and keep the home as safe as possible.
For instance, medications and necessities needed on a daily basis have to be reached easily. If seniors must use a step stool to get something, they risk taking a fall that can cause an injury. Lowering shelves or relocating items to within arm's length will make life easier.
According to guidelines from the National Association of Home Builders, some common changes include step-less entryways, wider doors and canopies over entries. Well-lit hallways, non-slip area rugs over wood floors and minimal or flush thresholds can make room design safer.
Kitchen cabinets can be constructed with more open shelving or glass-front doors, roll out trays and lazy susans to access cookware and food products, as well as a contrasting color edge on counters to provide better visual orientation to the work area.
Accessibility for senior citizens also needs to take into account that they may not have the dexterity of a younger person. Installing levered door handles and faucets that are easy to operate helps elderly people who have difficulty grasping fixtures.
Bathroom safety is particularly important. Installing a walk-in tub or using a removable shower seat can cut down on accidents. NAHB also recommended lowering bathroom sinks, having no-lip or roll-in shower entries for those with wheelchairs and adding hand-held shower heads to the bath.
Keeping the home free of clutter that can be tripped over is another way to prevent accidents. Tight spaces such as hallways should be wide enough for seniors to get through easily.
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