Most of us spend a significant amount of time in our homes. Which is why, for people who are elderly or disabled, getting around the home shouldn’t have to be a challenge. If you need to reconfigure your living space to meet your needs or the needs of a loved one, here are some important tips, info, and furniture recommendations to consider.
Before You Buy New Furniture
Before purchasing new furniture, be sure to de-clutter your space as much as possible. Get rid of any furniture that makes navigating your home a challenge. Especially clear any clutter in small spaces, where clutter can go unnoticed and potentially cause falls or other injuries. Every nook and cranny should be accessible. When in the process of getting new furniture, you need to consider how you'll get rid of the old furniture. If you're unable to transport the furniture elsewhere, for the safety of yourself, don't sell the furniture yourself. It's unsafe to have strangers coming into your home. Instead ask a friend or family member to sell it for you, or contract a company to haul your furniture away for you. This often the safest, and most convenient option as some companies will donate or recycle the furniture.
To start, when it comes to flooring, it’s always best to avoid having rugs in order to prevent trips and falls (alternately, you could use a non-skid rug liner). All flooring should allow freedom of movement, and rugs can greatly inhibit movement.
If you or someone you know experiences difficulty climbing in and out of bed, sitting up, and just generally getting comfortably in bed, an adjustable bed is best. With an adjustable bed, the user can decide on the sleeping position, and this can make getting in and out so much easier. Also, an upholstered headboard and padded base can add an extra layer of comfort.
The kitchen can be one of the most hazardous places in the home for people who are disabled or elderly. Three important tips here: Consider replacing the hardware on your cabinets with handles instead of knobs, install adaptable cabinetry that can be lowered or raised, and install swing doors instead of regular doors.
As for kitchen tables, rounded tables are best, since sharp corners can cause injuries. In addition, you should avoid glass-top tables. The same goes for coffee and end tables throughout the home.
Living Room Furniture
Sure, that old recliner you’ve had for ten years may be comfy—but is it difficult to get out of? If so, there are tons of recliners, couches, and other pieces of living room furniture that are better suited for those who may have trouble moving around. For instance, recliners that adjust and lift you to near-standing position are fantastic for anyone with mobility issues.
Having an accessible bathroom is incredibly crucial. For those who may have trouble bending over, a toilet riser adds height, thereby making life much easier. For those with low visibility, good lighting can make all the difference in the world in preventing injuries. And if there are floor lamps in the home, be sure they’re near outlets and that the bases are very sturdy.
Final Tips and Considerations
To create a comfortable, functional living space that’s both accessible and aesthetically appealing, there are plenty of furniture options out there. There are also plenty of ways to boost safety without tackling a massive home renovation project. Creating an accessible home may take some creativity, ingenuity, and hard work, but in the end, it’s 100 percent worth it if you can help improve someone’s quality of life—or your own.
Image credit: TransferMaster