Tips for Making Over a Senior’s Living Space

With holiday decorations safely tucked away for another year, the house or apartment may seem a little bland once all the lights and colorful decor are down.  And if winter weather is not making outdoor activities too appealing, why not turn your attention to sprucing up the interior design of a room in your home?

Seniors aging in place can vastly improve their quality of life and help prevent falls resulting in injury with a few strategic changes to furniture placement, lighting and flooring.  Clutter, throw rugs and poor lighting are just a few of the hazards older adults may have grown accustomed to after years living in the same space but they can create obstacles leading to falls which can threaten independent living.

January, full of possibilities, is an ideal time to pick a couple of frequently used rooms such as the living room, kitchen or bedroom to tackle.  Especially if an older adult uses assistive devices such as a cane, walker or wheelchair, it may be time to reorganize furniture layout or make changes to flooring material.

Seniors may use furniture for stability when walking, rising or sitting so keep this in mind when selecting the placement and design of pieces.  Very deep or soft seats may be difficult to get up out of for older adults.   Allow room for a walker and keep a generous side table within reach of seating for easy access to light, remote controls, phone, glasses or other essentials.  A round table with a solid (not glass) top is safer. 

The first step in making interior design senior-friendly may be to remove non-essential items to create more open space. Begin by removing any throw rugs and repairing any loose carpeting or other flooring material that may be a tripping hazard.  Consider using a contrasting color to highlight any change in floor level or material.  Updating lighting can also make a big difference to a room and help improve safety.  For better stability, table lamps should not be too tall and switches easy for older, possibly arthritic hands, to operate.

Safety rails and grab bars can be installed in hallways or bathrooms and disguised as a chair rail, painting the top half of the wall a darker shade than the bottom and hiding the railing in the middle.

An entryway bench can provide a safe place for seniors to put on outdoor shoes and many offer storage underneath which can help keep floors free of the clutter of many pairs of shoes or boots.  If you are helping an older loved-one with changes to their home, remember to include them in the process and make changes slowly over time.  For more senior-friendly interior design ideas, follow this link to Pinterest.