Mobility becomes increasingly difficult as we age. The ability to navigate our living spaces safely is key to aging in place. The same holds true if we move into senior living communities. The ability to easily get around our living spaces provides a level of independence that is important as we age.
One way to think about this subject is to think about how we navigate our homes at a younger age, maybe in our early fifties. This is the age I typically recommend to start downsizing your belongings.
When you begin downsizing, you will notice how much more space that you free up. You may notice that you’re not kicking things out of your way, or running into furniture that you had previously done. Freeing up space allows you to navigate your home safely with ease.
For those caring for elderly loved ones, think about how easy, or difficult it is to navigate their living spaces. There may be some things that work well for them, and some things not so much. Consider the tips below to keep your spaces, and your elderly loved one’s spaces easy to navigate.
- Keep all areas and surfaces clutter-free, especially floors and around areas of egress.
- Keep things at eye level & within reach if possible – this may not seem like a safety issue, however, reaching for something too high, or getting on a step stool or ladder could result in a fall.
- Furniture should be placed with enough room to navigate with a mobility device such as a walker or wheel chair.
- Hardwood, tile or laminate flooring is a better option than carpet for smooth navigation.
- Omit throw rugs from the plan as they can be a tripping hazard and make it difficult to navigate with mobility devices.
- Side tables are a better option than a coffee table to provide easier navigation with more open space.
- Consider an open floor plan with minimal furniture.
- If possible, make doorways large enough to accommodate a wheelchair.
- In order to understand what furniture will fit in your new home, you need to get a floor plan that has the dimensions of each room, as well as electrical outlets, air vents, phone jacks, light switches and cable connections.
- Place night lights with motion sensors around the home to navigate safely at night.