Just because something is safe doesn’t mean it can’t look good, too. When you’re looking to create a stylish space for a senior, or a family caring for an older adult with memory impairments, you must consider their abilities as well as the people around them in your plan. Here are a few tips on how to get it done.
Cater to their wants with modified amenities
During your initial consultation, determine what the people in the home prioritize. Does the senior enjoy cooking or gardening? Is he or she more interested in reading or watching television? Once you know the senior’s interests, you’ll have a better idea about what will lend best to his or her quality of life. You might, for instance, design a wheelchair-accessible indoor garden or outfit the kitchen with a microwave oven that is easy to use with knobs instead of push buttons.
Go high tech
Computers and electronics aren’t just for gaming teens or busy executives. Today’s technology can be integrated in a home’s design to keep seniors safe and extend at least some independence. Alzheimers.net notes that picture phones, GPS tracking devices, and clocks made specifically for dementia patients are valuable additions to a senior’s home. Likewise, you might suggest installing smart plugs and devices throughout the home so that seniors can control lights, radios, and televisions with their voice, even from another room.
Ensure everyone has a private space in which to retreat when needed
Most Alzheimer’s patients eventually require around-the-clock care. And while this is a labor of love for most family members, they will not only need a home that’s set up with their loved one’s needs in mind, but the caregiver will also need a place of respite. Create one room where the caregivers can walk away for a few moments to relax and recharge. Make this area a workspace for paid care providers, too, such as nursing assistants and housekeepers, so they can plan without interruptions or distractions.
The entire home should be safe and navigable, including the bathroom and kitchen, where seniors are most likely to get hurt. Avoid area rugs and look for flooring that doesn’t get slippery when wet. Design a living area without low-lying furniture, such as coffee and end tables. Opt instead for a sofa or sectional with built-in storage that eliminates the needs for these tripping hazards.
Create a space that emphasizes relaxation
For many seniors, a failure to effectively manage stress can make memory issues worse. Look for ways to incorporate relaxation and exercise into their day by establishing a wellness flow throughout the home. Keep books within reach, make access to the outdoors easy, and add pieces of furniture that hide journals, music, or art supplies they can reach when they want to take their mind off their condition.
Make organization a priority
As with all home design, keeping things organized is the key to keeping things safe. Clutter is dangerous to a senior’s physical and mental health. Use items that serve a dual purpose, such as a slow-cooker and pressure cooker combination in the kitchen or electric reclining furniture in the living room.
If you’re working with a family that may not be able to afford every home alteration, you can help them find home-modification grants or alternative solutions that will balance their wants, needs, and budget. Remember, the end goal is to create an environment that provides both safety and serenity for seniors. By customizing their home in a way that keeps them safe without sacrificing their personal sense of style, you will help them hold on to the best years of their life and enjoy those that are left.
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