Things to keep in mind while designing homes for Senior Citizens (Part 2)

Insights from Mr. Nagesh Battula, Founder and Managing Director – FHD Group

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

A recent study found that household chores done by seniors gives them a sense of purpose and contributes to both physical and mental well-being. As designers, our focus is to help active seniors be as independent as they can. And that means ensuring that there is an ease in doing any activity, simplicity in maintenance and housekeeping, reducing small everyday risks, and creating a safe beautiful home that supports active ageing. This article is an extension of the previous post on designing homes for elderly people. Part 1 spoke of certain design tips based on comfort, accessibility and empathy while this article would focus more on safety.

Comfort, Security and Precautions
Although we can help mitigate some risks through design, it is important to practice common precautions while doing house chores. Such as not climbing ladders if seniors have difficulty with balance, removing safety hazards before dusting and cleaning, placing anti-slip floor mats in wet areas, always keeping your emergency contacts within easy reach and much more.  
If housekeeping is outsourced, it is important to train the staff to put items back in their place to avoid the trouble of searching for items later by seniors as family members may not be always around.

Some design principles we follow when it comes to flooring and safety
Key criteria point at 1) slip resistance 2) easy to walk on and 3) easy to maintain. In order to confirm the ease in mobility and care, some of the things which we can make sure of are;
1) No floor level transitions between rooms on the same floor
2) Reduce the number of door thresholds to essentials only
3) Avoid any loose rugs and floor carpet. Alternately, secure the rugs and carpets using anti-slip rug underlays.
4) Use dry bathrooms, which have dry areas near the WC and Wash basins and the wet area is confined to the shower area. Dry bathrooms reduce the possibility of slipping and falling.
5) Provide good evenly distributed ambient lighting across all floor areas without creating glare.

Sufficient lighting according to age
Changing vision as we age is an important consideration when designing homes and buildings. Eyesight changes and common eye ailments require brighter and cooler lights and lesser yellow lights. Also, it is important to ensure there is adequate ambient light for general lighting (safe movement around furniture, obstacles, etc.) and focused lights for task activities (like reading books or instructions on medicines, etc.)

In addition, daylighting is another important consideration in home design. Rooms should not be checked only on the sufficiency of windows for light and ventilation. Glare-free distribution of light within the room (by locating sun shading devices properly) is a critical consideration. Imagine a large window casting harsh sunlight into the room. Even if lux levels are appropriate, this would cast strong shadows in the interiors and result in relative darkness. Lighting distribution analysis should be age appropriate to avoid contrasting light-casts, which can impact vision performance.

We are continuing to research this topic and will be issuing periodic insights.
Email us at reachus@fhdgroup.in to get in touch with us. 

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