Room-by-Room – Designed for Senior Safety

A new set of concerns arise when we take on responsibility for the safety and comfort of our aging family members. I specialize in downsizing design. The physical and emotional aspects of downsizing are so important.

Safety in the shower is a top priority. Wall mounted handles help seniors with entering and exiting the tub. But even better – get a tub cut. It is a permanent cut on the side of the tub that creates an easy step-in for showering. Tub benches and safety bath mats are also a big help. We all need more lighting in our bathrooms as we age. Check for sufficient lighting over the sink and in the tub area. Put a nightlight in the bathroom for safety. Continue on to the linen closet and medicine cabinet and move all contents down to an easily reachable height. Check the dates on all medicines and safely dispose of those that have expired.

There are many good design elements for seniors in the bedroom. Be sure that bedspreads or bed skirts are fitted and not dragging on the floor to minimize tripping mishaps. Low, dense carpet provide warmth underfoot and are easier on shuffling feet. Have a telephone within easy reach of the bed for security and emergencies. Window treatments are often difficult for arthritic joints to operate. The solution is remote controls that will do the work for them.

There are things you can do for them in the family room and the kitchen. Be sure to move all electric cords out of walkways. Place them behind furniture and use extension cords where needed. Test out the sofa cushions to see if you can get up and down easily. If they sink down too far, replace the cushions with denser foam to make it easy for the seniors to get up and down. Check the adjacent lamps for proper illumination and height placement so reading and sewing is not a strain. The living room is the most used area of their new home so indulge in window treatments, paint and accessories here. More often than not, seniors desire to have some of the things that remind them of the home they left and this is the room to do it in. Wall mounted shelves and bookcases save space and can hold treasured memories. The whole point is to create a “right at home” feeling.

In the kitchen, add under cupboard lighting to create well lit countertops. Use plastic dishes, cups and bowls. When the plastic ones drop, there are no glass shards to deal with.

The path to successful downsizing is to recognize that there is an emotional attachment to the memories associated with beloved things of the home they are leaving. Including some of these things makes for a very successful transition to this next phase of life.

This is a very special part of my design work. I would be happy to assist you and your family with this life-changing event.

I wish you all the best!Linda Hunt


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