Older people or elderly or senior citizens are defined by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) as those people who belong to the age group 60 years and above. If you have an elderly loved one, making your home friendly to them to avoid accidents is one of the best things you can do. Read through this article to learn more about creating an elderly-friendly home.
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Close Filipino Family Ties
Filipinos are widely recognized for their “close family ties,” which lead to an extended family structure. It is widespread in Philippine households that there are not only children, a father, and a mother who resides together. It is not unusual to see grandparents, both aunt and uncle, and even some cousins living together under one roof. This roots in the belief Filipinos uphold that families should stick together and help one another.
Here are the most prevalent challenges that an old aged loved one may need help with at home:
1. Emotional issues
Older adults at your home may be saddened by the death of a close friend or worse, a spouse. Grief may persist for years and result in anxiety or depressive symptoms. Furthermore, anxiety and depression can be exacerbated by limited movement and mobility. Another emotional concern that older adults experience is frustration and anger. This could be due to their failure to take care of themselves or carry out basic tasks that they could previously do on their own.
2. Increased tendency to under dose or overdose medicine
Cognitive disorders accompany old age. If your older relative suffers from a mental illness such as dementia, they may overlook taking their prescribed medications on time. One possible result would be that they may take additional doses, potentially leading to medication overdose. On the other hand, this may also result in medicine under dose, which can aggravate their currently declining health.
3. Physical safety concerns
Falls are the leading cause of unforeseen fatalities and injuries among elder people. Elderly people’s bones become fragile as they get older, and their eyesight deteriorates. Seniors frequently fall while performing routine tasks such as answering the phone, opening the door, bathing, or walking down the stairs. If an elderly loved one falls, they may be unable to stand and seek assistance. Furthermore, it is really crucial to remove hazards in a home that could lead to a fall of elderly.
Home Design Considerations for an Elderly-friendly Home
To prevent falls and other injuries at home, here are some of the ideal design considerations to make your home for your loved ones elderly-friendly:
1. Consider the size of the doorways
One factor to check if a home is suitable for an aged loved one is to check if an older adult could enter and move around the house without encountering any obstacles such as complicated steps and constricted doorways. Ideally, doors should be at least 3.5 feet wide to accommodate wheelchair movement. Moreover, if the doors are in a corridor, there needs to be turning space and doors should be at least 36-inch wide.
2. Prefer to use a door lever than a doorknob
Door handles can take the shape of a doorknob or a door lever. Door handles are available in a variety of models, styles, and operations. Some people can even make a bare door appear attractive and extravagant because of how door handles are installed. Nevertheless, some designs can be challenging for aged people especially those with joint pain. Consider using a door lever instead because it is more convenient for older adults to use. It is also more efficient if your hands are slightly damp and slick, or if you are holding things with both hands. In that case, you can still opt to use your arm to open the door.
3. Put either a permanent, semi-permanent, or temporary ramp
A ramp is a necessity if you have an old loved one in the household who uses a wheelchair. Do not worry because it does not have to be permanently installed, you can choose to have a semi-permanent or a temporary ramp.
4. Place ample lighting all around your house
Proper lighting ensures a comfortable and safe home for the elderly. You want to avoid having an accident due to poor lighting. Lighting should be adequate but not staring intently, as this will impair the range of motion of the elder people. Because of age-related changes in visual acuity that are involved in the aging process, elderly individuals demand approximately two to three times more illumination than younger people.
Read Also: Tips on Choosing The Proper Lights for Your Home
5. Setup handrails on the staircase
Stairways can be particularly risky for elderly individuals who reside on multiple floors. For safety precautions, all stairways, both indoor and outdoor, must have handrails or bars. Setup a handrail on both sides of the stairway, extending it past the first and last steps. The edge of each step should also be marked with a distinct shade or layout. If you are still designing your home, make sure that your staircase has a delicate slope. This will consume more space, but it will be more convenient to use for your loved ones that are older adults. Handrails should be installed about one and a half inches away from the wall to allow enough space for knuckles and fingers to hold.
6. Take into consideration the interior design of your home for your aged loved one
If you want to put rugs or floor coverings placed above white or tiled floors, use a carpet base layer to keep them from sliding down and falling. Moreover, contrast perception in elder adults may be deficient. As a result, you must use highly contrasting colors in the background and foreground areas. For instance, the toilet seat should differ from the color schemes of the floor, a decline in floor level must be indicated by a different color for tiles or floor coverings, and the color schemes of the seats must be a bit different than the floor in order for greater visibility of the seat corner.
7. Keep flooring smooth and level
To the greatest extent possible, keep the flooring smooth and level. However, when level adjustments are inevitable, highlight these with a shift in either material, appearance, or color scheme. But try to avoid using significantly dominant or reflective surfaces, which may intrude with spatial awareness. Go for soft and supple surfaces such as rubber, linoleum, and cork for your flooring. Such smoother floor surfaces will be gentler on joints while also not posing a tripping hazard, as high-pile or overly stuffed carpets would.
8. Install grab bars for toilets and tubs
Another valuable tool to install is a grab bar or handrail, which enables an old loved one to move around conveniently when going in and out of the bathroom or using the toilet. The best location for grab bars is precisely where the elderly person normally approaches and leaves the shower.
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Written by MC Sanchez