Article by Niki Schafer
Helping an elderly relative live independently in their own home, or having an elderly relative come to live with you, may require making some practical, simple changes for both safety and comfort. Interior Designer, Speaker and Author of ‘Creating Space’ Niki Schafer shares her tips on how to design a home with this situation in mind.
Tips for Design to Support Independent Living
- Don’t risk standing on a chair to reach higher items in the kitchen cupboards. Build a hidden stepping stool into a drawer at the bottom of the cupboards to help reach higher items safely.
- Uneven flooring can create a tripping risk so try to eliminate all potential hazards. Particularly where wooden and carpet floorings meet, the carpet strip can become easily dislodged.
- Make sure you have phones throughout the house, especially at the side of the elderly person’s bed and wherever they spend the majority of their time.
- Re-fit your bathroom as a wet-room. Incorporating a seat into the design helps to minimise the risk of slipping.
- Have you considered your lighting? Light switches should be easy to access with normal switches preferable to dimmers. Make sure in the bedroom there is a switch at the bed as well as by the door so there is no need to navigate through the dark.
- When designing the kitchen think of what’s needed on a regular basis and prioritise the positioning of these items. Anything used daily should be within close proximity -no-one wants to be reaching for a stool every time they want a cup of tea!
- In the living room think about the height and depth of your sofas – anything too close to the ground may be harder to lift out of, and make sure there are side tables for items rather than having to reach to the floor.
- Chairs should have armrests where possible, high backs and comfortable cushions which provide support.
Niki Schäfer is the founder of Dwell-Being Interior Design,a professional interior designer, and engaging writer and speaker on interior and lifestyle design. Niki has lived in more than 100 homes including a railway station in Scotland, a hut in the Andes, a palace in Rajasthan, and a colonial mansion in Nicaragua thanks to her upbringing in the RAF and love for travelling. Niki additionally has 20 years’ experience in the creative field, in London and New York’s top advertising agencies. Niki Schäfer is an associate member of the British Institute of Interior Design. She has also written for a variety of publications and been published in the NY Times. www.dwell-being.co.uk
Picture credit: freedigitalphotos