Close-knit joint family is very common in Indian culture. However, nuclear families with elderly family members are steadily rising now. In India, the population of senior citizens (60 and above) is the largest in Kolkata. Young professionals moving into different cities and countries for work reasons is also not very rare. They are often left with no choice but leaving their elderly parents behind. But the nagging thought about the well-being and safety of the ageing parents remains constant at the back of their mind.
Senior citizens need thoughtfully designed spaces ensuring comfort and safety. “While making a room or decorating an apartment for elderly members, it’s important to be conscious about how they would interact with the space around them”, said interior designer Smita Anand. “I recently designed the interior of a 3BHK apartment in Maheshtala making it an elder-friendly space without compromising on aesthetics. A few tweaks in the design feature and furniture layout can score heavily on comfort, safety and accessibility – much needed for senior citizens to live in peace”, she added. Here she shares some basic tips to make the home comfortable for senior citizens:
- Consider slip-resisting floors:
Wet or slippery floors cause the most accidents when you have elderly family members at home. Bathroom and kitchen floorings especially have the tendency to become slippery when wet making them high-risk zones for the elderly. “It was an apartment in Batanagar and my client’s home was already equipped with anti-skid ceramic tiles in floors of toilets, balcony and kitchen. They are easy to clean and minimize the risk”, said Smita. If you don’t have the option to change the flooring, go for carpeted flooring or lay down perforated anti-slip rubber mats that are comfortable underfoot and offers to cushion in case of a fall. However, carpets need to be vacuumed regularly.
- Have adequate lighting:
Our eyesight deteriorates while growing older. Ensure adequate ambient lighting in all parts of the home to minimise the risk of injuries and easy navigation around the house. Install some task lighting in the bedroom for activities like reading or knitting. A night lamp is a must for safe access to the bathroom at night. Make arrangements for remote-controlled lighting and air conditioning switches to make their life easier. A window by the side of the bed will be perfect to allow natural light into their room.
- Thoughtfully choose furniture:
Don’t clutter the room of your elderly family members with too much furniture. Allow free passage in the entire home so that they can move around without knocking over or bumping into furniture. Avoid sharp edges and corners and place some sturdy chairs. The chairs must have backrest and armrest and good cushioning for optimum comfort. Instead of low beds, consider having a bed with considerable height so that they can easily get on and off. Side tables beside the bed and seating areas are necessary to keep spectacles, water, medicines and so on.
- Take care of accessibility:
In case of any emergency, make sure they have everything in handy. Install a home intercom system to communicate easily. Ensure the apartment they live in has 24×7 power backup and proper common area lighting. Replace doorknobs with lever-style handles as door levers are easier to open for arthritic hands. Open up the views with large windows and enable them getting street views or garden views without stepping out of the home.
- Ensure safety measures:
Safety of every kind should be given utmost importance. Install a high-tech home security system with burglar alarms, security cameras, smoke alarms if your elderly relatives are staying alone at home. Grab-bars and benches within the bathroom, balcony grills of considerable height, door locks that can be unlocked from both the sides are some of the safety features that should be incorporated.