When a person reaches their twilight years, it’s about time for a change of scene. But that doesn’t mean a complete overhaul. This is a process that requires careful consideration, an understanding of one’s psychology, and the overall need to make them as comfortable as possible.
And what better way to do so than to create a home just for them. Now, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll just search for a random home for the aged and put them there just like that. There is a lot to consider, Bear in mind that most senior citizens prefer staying close to the family and some tend to be quite picky about what they want and need. So here are a few tips to consider when creating the perfect home for seniors.
1. Colors Matter
Let’s face it. They’ve seen it all. The various colors of life. Some have seen the darker shade of life while others are fortunate enough to experience the sweeter side. And in those stages of life, colors have played a massive part in shaping their lives. So when creating the perfect home for seniors, you need colors that make them remember the good times. Or at least colors that make them feel relaxed and calm. While neutrals such as browns and beiges would work, avoid dark neutrals like gray and black.
Figure 1 Most preferred neutrals of beige and subdued browns
You can also try experimenting with cool colors such as blues and greens and maybe pastels as well. Pastels such as blues and greens can help calm them down and let them reminisce on their youth which, if manipulated well, can be quite a wonderful thing to do. Avoid as much as possible harsh neutrals such as dark beige or bright cool colors such as apple green. You an experiment with maybe subtle tints of yellow and gray or even go all complimentary with whites and grays. Colors can also help stimulate the mind in associating colors with items and memories. After all, a bit of color always adds more variety to life.
Figure 2 Blue Shades
2. Invest in Delightful Prints, Fabrics, and other Materials
Similar to how colors affect the environment in a senior home, so too will prints and other materials. When choosing the paint for your walls, opt for odorless paint as there may be some seniors who may have a serious reaction to regular paint. If you are considering wallpaper, choose prints that aren’t quite loud and bold. You can choose subtle florals that won’t overpower Fabrics and other Materials room or maybe even some plain colored wallpapers if you feel paint might not work. When it comes to fabrics, go for prints that they are comfortable with such as ginghams, checks, stripes in varying sizes, florals, etc. A good way to make it homier is to incorporate something natural. You can incorporate wooden furniture or wall paneling or maybe a stone hearth. This will allow them to get in touch with their natural environment and let them think about days spent in outdoors.
Make sure your natural materials won’t cause harm to them. Have your stone materials thoroughly installed so that they won’t either stick out or fall out. Or ensure that your woods are sanded and smoothed to avoid splinters. Make sure the edges are rounded and smooth. You don’t want the senior to constantly complain about how uncomfortable or injured they are.
3. Incorporate Handrails and other Accessible Features
Now, this is the most crucial element to consider as you are dealing with people who have needs to address, especially mobility. Handrails are the most common, especially along the halls and corridors. If you want it to look like part of the wall, you can design it to look like wall molding. Take care to make it round and flat.
Handrails are also important in the toilet and baths. Install some handrails at the sides of the water closet and some by the shower. You may want to install a higher toilet seat as most seniors cannot sit on normal toilets. When constructing the room, take care to make the doors a bit wider, especially if they need a walker, wheelchair or an assistant.
To make it more interesting and convenient, strategically put some armchairs along the hallway so that they can sit and rest if they get tired. Avoid using glossy tiles or polished wood flooring as there may be some who might slip and fall on them. Especially if the floors are wet. Go for matte tiles and wood flooring as they easily dry fast. If you want more comfort, consider using carpeted flooring. Seniors will easily move without the fear of slipping and falling. And it’s easily maintained with daily vacuuming.
If you want to go the extra mile, construct some ramps for those wheelchair-bound and consider investing in a chair lift. Let’s face it. There are some homes that have 2nd floors and there are some seniors who do not want to feel disabled. But the challenges of climbing the stairs may hinder that. So to make it easier for them, install a chair lift by the stairs. You’d be surprised at how comfortable you’ll make them feel.
4. Create a Sensory Enhancing Environment
Now, we come to the really fun and interesting part. Making your senior house more interactive. Most seniors would slowly lose their sense of smell, taste, sight, and even sound. That’s almost debilitating for them. To avoid that, create sensory-enhancing interiors. Here are a few ways:
a. Sensory Garden
This is where the great outdoors can be utilized to its full potential. Seniors enjoy walks in nature as it helps them rejuvenate and relax. They also enjoy the sounds of the birds or the rustling waters. You can achieve that sensation by creating a sensory garden. A sensory garden is simply a garden with sections that encourage seniors to either touch, taste, smell, see, or hear. These sections can strategically be placed around the complex.
Some ideas for taste would be strawberry bushes or apple trees in one section or herbs and vegetables in another. For sound, you can place benches near streams and trees so they can sit and listen to the sound of flowing water or chirping birds.
For smell and touch, you can create orchards of flowers and even flower gardens. The whole experience is intended to heighten and enhance their senses. And it is quite innovative for most senior homes.
b. Calming and Unique Interiors
Because this is in essence a home for them, you would want to make it feel as warm and homey as possible. Create interesting interiors that would appeal to them and also their guests, especially during visitor’s day. For their bedrooms, you can mimic a hotel look by using pillows and sheets with a higher thread count for durability and comfort. You can incorporate mixed prints to break the monotony of the entire room. A nice add-on would be accent chairs overlooking a scenic view. You can use natural lighting to enhance the overall mood of the room. Opt for soft warm white lights to enhance the warmth at night and consider using daylights that aren’t glaring to the eye.
You can even create wholesome areas such as common rooms with woven furniture for those intimate chats with friends or even some well-deserved patios. Or even open-style dining rooms where they can dine with friends or have bars to themselves. Try to bring nature into the interiors by placing potted plants in the rooms.
Having potted plants can freshen up the room and filter the air ensuring that the occupant will be breathing clean air.
c. Holistic Activities
Of course, a senior home would not be complete if it didn’t boast facilities geared towards the improvement of its residents. Your senior housing must have facilities such as gyms, rehabilitation centers, clinics, and even recreational rooms. Clinics are very important as they contain tools and equipment needed to treat seniors. Consider investing in a clinic’s construction. Another facility to consider is the rehabilitation and the gym. Some seniors would love working out and there are some who need to exercise in order to get their basic motor skills back.
Create activities such as yoga for seniors or ballet class or even the old-time favorite of ballroom dancing. It’s a great way for them to make friends and enjoy the good old times. You can even try making recreational skill activities like cooking, baking, pottery or simply reading books. The point is to keep their minds sharp and functioning. A senior housing unit wouldn’t be called that unless it had fun activities for its residents.
5. Adopt some Basic Safety Measures
And the most important thing to consider above all else is their safety and well-being. When constructing a senior’s home, have at least two or more fire escapes in the event of fire. There should be at least several smoke detectors and water sprinklers installed as well. Always make it a yearly habit to see if the sprinklers and detectors are working well. For small flames, always have a hand-held fire extinguisher ready. Check if it’s still okay.
Make sure to install fire alarms as well. Consider holding annual fire drills and earthquake drills. This will help them prepare for when an actual event does occur. For furniture pieces, make sure you don’t purchase pieces that have potentially dangerous sharp edges. Opt for round and smooth pieces
For electrical cords, tuck them behind furniture pieces to avoid potential tripping and make sure they aren’t plugged all together. Always check for cords that have exposed wires and sparks. This is to prevent electrocution or small fires. Consider buying door stoppers or door magnets to hold doors in place when seniors in wheelchairs need to leave. Never encourage deadbolts and other locks for their rooms. This is done so that those who have daily monitors can easily enter the room in the event of an emergency. For bathrooms, install some nonslip strips on the tiled floor and shower to help keep their balance. Make sure the handlebars are tightly secured. Take into consideration even the smallest of details. In no time at all, your senior housing unit will be one they will all talk about.