Do your grandparents or elderly parents live with you? Do you have a differently-abled family member? Have you ever wondered how to make your house a more comfortable space for them?
Traditional home designs can often be tricky spaces to navigate and move around in for the elderly or disabled. While home spaces don’t come designed elderly and disabled-friendly by default, there are a couple of ways you can incorporate to make them such. Customising your homes in this manner will reduce the risk of a fall, injury and inconvenience for your family member/s.
Depending on your requirements and how much you can do, you can make structural changes like changing the size of doorways, ramps, and skid-free flooring. Or you can choose to make simple layout changes like moving around furniture and changing storage. These changes will make your home a comfortable space for your loved one to live in.
1. Support Rails & Bars
One of the easiest ways to make your house elderly and disabled-friendly is to install support rails and bars wherever possible. One of the primary reasons for a fall in the elderly is losing balance, and support rails ensure they have something to grab onto if they feel like they’re about to falter. Additionally, support rails assist the disabled and the elderly to hold onto something sturdy while engaging in movements like getting up from a chair/ wheelchair or walking up and down the stairs.
2. Wheelchair/ Mobility Aid Assistance
If anyone in your family uses a wheelchair, you might consider making structural changes like creating wider doorways and entrances for ease of movement. Apart from this, by changing the layout of your house and moving furniture around, you can create more space for the wheelchair or a walker to turn and move around. This will also ensure that there are lesser obstacles in the path of the wheelchair/mobility aid user to move around the house independently.
3. Bathroom Safety
Another important aspect of making your homes elderly and disabled-friendly is to make the bathrooms a safe space. Install non-skid tiles to prevent slips and falls. Ensure the floor plan is open and the shower area is easily accessible.
A walk-in shower is a better option than a bathtub since it is easy to get into. Install rails wherever possible, like near the WC and shower/bath, to help use these areas.
Good lighting is critical in any house but if you’re living with the elderly or disabled, make sure you have bright lights everywhere instead of just in places which can be dark. Installing bright lighting near staircases, hallways, and the rooms will ensure your loved one isn’t entering the room unaware and in darkness. A well-lit space reduces the risk of bumps, falls and injuries.
5. Cabinet Accessibility
Another simple way to make your homes more elderly and disabled-friendly is to reorganise your cabinets and storage units. Keep the regularly needed things in lower levelled cabinets for easy access. You may consider shifting around things, especially in the kitchen area, which all family members frequent.
By lowering the height of the countertops and installing easy-to-open cabinets, you can ensure convenient usage. Moreover, for wheelchair users, you could also lower the height of the sink and make space below it to grant them access to the sink.
If you live in a bungalow or row house or on the ground level, you can install ramps for wheelchair users to move in and out of the house. If you live in an apartment building, you can request the installation of a ramp or choose a building structure that already has a ramp and wheelchair-accessible lifts while looking for a home.
While homes don’t come designed in a way that is convenient to all family members, small changes can ensure your elderly or differently-abled family member feels as independent as possible in their daily life when carrying out chores or simply moving around the house. You may decide what change/s are the most suitable and affordable for you that will make your homes more inclusive and convenient.
6 Ideas for Elder-Friendly Design - This Old House
5 Things to Consider When Building Disabled-Friendly Homes
9 Ways to Create a Handicap Accessible Home | BraunAbility
5 Tips To Make A Comfortable Home For Disabled People - Spa Industry Association