Creating a bedroom for an elderly family member in joint families that live together in the same house , requires a thought. Not just about good-looking design but important considerations by incorporating the necessary elements into the decor which make it appropriate for an elderly occupant. An elder’s room should be as simple as possible. It should contain every necessary thing in it. While designing the room one should keep in mind their comfort, security, safety, mobility and self-reliance. These are a few adjectives that come to mind when considering designing their bedroom. These days there’s no need to move into a dreary, white-walled living environment.
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Location is the most important thing in designing the room for the elders. The room should be easily accessible, preferably on ground floor if possible. The most important thing you need to consider is safety. The bathroom should be adjacent and safe.
Choose a bed that is a comfortable height — neither too high nor too low. If a hospital bed is necessary, a more luxurious comforter or bedspread buffers the aesthetic.
When possible, design your house with no steps at the main entrance. The door opening and hallway width should be at least 3.5 feet wide. This is to allow for easy wheelchair movement if needed . Attach a doorknob that is lever styled, it is easy to grip the handle and safe to use. Have it well lighted and place a bench near the entrance. This is useful as it helps place things that one has in their hand while unlocking the main door. The bench can also be a place to sit while one ties or unties shoelaces.
Install a handrail on both sides of the staircase and extend it beyond the first and last step. The step should also have a different color scheme or design, to mark the edge of each step.
Having a phone, a wireless doorbell and an intercom near the bed and in the bathroom is a smart idea for peace of mind that allow easy access. Get rid of platform-style bed or low bed and choose a bed with considerable height for their room. The height makes it easier for them to get on and off the bed. The average bed height is around 25 inches, which while in a sitting position, your parent’s feet should touch the floor.
One of the biggest risks while caring for the elderly is falls. Replace your smooth tiles with anti-skid flooring. The texture or friction offers grip and ensures your elderly parents can move without the fear of accidents. If you like to have rugs or carpets over your marble or tiled floors, place carpet underlay to prevent slipping and tripping over them. Sharp corners and glass can cause injuries. When deciding on which furniture, try to eliminate furniture with sharp corners and glass. Install rounded plastic corner around rectangular furniture with sharp corners, that blends in with the decor and protects from sharp edges.
Avoid cramping the room with a lot of furniture; in its place use minimal pieces to hold their essentials like a bedside table, a chest of drawers and a reading chair, depending on their habits. Make sure furniture doesn’t obstruct their walking path; however, they shouldn’t be placed so far apart that they can’t use the furniture to balance themselves should they need it.
Of course, with age, their eyesight will become weak. Make the best use of natural lighting by incorporating more windows. Also, incorporate bedside lamps with switches that are within their reach, should they need something in the night. Keeping the room airy and spacious along with generous lighting will ensure less strain for your elderly parent’s vision.
Designing a bedroom for your ageing parents requires special attention to color schemes. Conventional color schemes that work well for the rest of the home may not work well in a room intended for senior citizens. Older people can be drawn to soft pastels but they may not have the vitality of hue needed to stimulate the mind and mood. Eyesight problems can also impair how the colour is seen and what is seen.
Softer shades of reds and oranges are warming and can help with circulation and energy levels. Peaches, apricots, warm tans, terracotta, and pinks are also used for the same reason. Soft blues, lavender mauves, and violets are colors that connect to the spiritual or reflective mood. Warm colors help create an atmosphere of coziness and security, which elderly people usually prefer. Rich colors like shades of gold, mustard, orange and yellow help bring in warmth and intimacy. Monochromatic palettes are not a good choice for a room for the elderly since these schemes are difficult for the eyes to see. On the other hand, high contrasting color schemes work well for such rooms, since they can help senior citizens distinguish between different surfaces easily. Use your parent’s favorite color wherever possible to create a familiar, comforting atmosphere that helps them relax easily. With the right colors and a few carefully selected decor items, you can create a haven that they will cherish through their twilight years.
To ensure your elderly parents feel relaxed in their bedroom, take away loud prints and motifs and add in warm colors with soft decor.
A place for Pooja can be created in the room by placing a Mandir if desired. This will make their life easier and be spiritually connected.
Pay close attention and provide sufficient lightings to outdoor areas, reading areas, bathrooms, stairways and in work spaces such as garage and kitchen. Fix under the cabinet lights to cooking area and kitchen counter. Install light switches at both bottom and top of stairways. Night-lights are useful when one needs to move around at night, like going to the bathroom.
Emergency lights will be handy when there is an electrical blackout and should be fixed along the stairways, kitchen and exit doors. Lastly, install a sufficient number of windows to bring in natural lights into the house. As people get older, the benefits of sunlight therapy are tremendous as it is a cure for depression in old people. It is also a source of vitamin D, important for better absorption of calcium. Sunlight can also be brought into your house through glass doors.
It will be easier to plug or unplug an electrical device from plug points placed at tabletop height, instead of 1-foot from the floor. This is especially so when one is older or suffers from backache. It may look terrible in terms of interior décor, but if fixed properly, it can still be presentable. Eliminate the use of extension cord as people, whether young or old, might trip over it. Install additional plug points if you foresee more usage within that area.
Hearing can be a problem as one age and installing device, such as smoke detectors with a strong strobe light instead of just sound, will assist people with hearing problems. The doorbell should be audible in all rooms and for additional security buy an intercom that doubles up as a doorbell. Telephone with adjustable volume control and with large number keypad will be useful for people with vision, hearing or dexterity problem.
The room should be so constructed that it should have adequate space for attached bathroom. The interior of the bathroom also should be safe enough for them to use. Baths should have comfortable toilet seats. Think about adding grab bars by the toilet and the tub. Choose floor tiles that are non-slip and avoid a floor mat as one may trip over it. Bathroom door should open outwards and not into the bathroom area. If someone falls and is near the door, you can still go in and help. You may want to consider installing a telephone extension in the bathroom; should someone get into difficulty he/she can call for help. Introduce high contrasting color to the foreground and background.
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Make your elderly loved one feel at home by installing a much-loved, familiar rocking chair and displaying treasured photos on the wall. To keep noise from the kids at a minimum, install additional insulation in the walls of the bedroom, ceiling, and flooring to provide both a comfortable climate and noise buffering.
Encourage your senior loved one to keep an active social life, as this is one of the key ingredients for happiness as one age. Add some guest seating and display interesting art pieces, photos, and awards that can stimulate enjoyable, meaningful conversations. It is also great to have their favorite life mementos and memories for their guests to see. If they play bridge, chess or cards, make these games available and easily accessible. With these simple tips in their life, ensures that they are comfortable. In short, do all that can make the lives of your elderly more comfortable and peaceful.