How Do You Choose Furniture for The Elderly?
There are lots of factors to take into consideration when furnishing a home for a senior. Even if there are minimal mobility issues at play, it never hurts to plan for the future. Loss of mobility can have major effects on a person’s psychological, social, emotional, and even physical health.
To avoid a situation where a person becomes a recluse, it definitely helps to pay attention to their physical surroundings. Many seniors benefit from simpler, more efficient living spaces, where the clutter is kept to a minimum so it’s always easy to navigate. The goal is to create a space that still feels personal while taking into account future issues like mobility problems and cognitive decline.
If you’re furnishing a space for someone who is downsizing or moving into an assisted care home, including that person in all the decisions will definitely help with the transition. Even if they’re not able to shop all day, they can still help pick out items online or from a catalog and consult on colors, fabrics, and furniture pieces that they like.
Here are a few of our top tips to keep in mind when choosing furniture for seniors.
Stash all cords away
Loose cords are a huge tripping hazard and should always be kept well out of the way. A cord organizer or cable management system may be able to help if you have lots of electronics around.
Consider keeping cables tied to furniture legs or attached to the walls, where they can’t be moved.
Choose a supportive mattress, even adjustable, if someone has sleep issues
Many seniors suffer from chronic aches and pains, which can affect the quality of their sleep. A good mattress will cradle areas that need more support, help the alignment of the spine, and alleviate pressure on common pain points.
Many seniors tend to run hot while they sleep, which is why mattresses that circulate air are useful. If you’re choosing a new mattress for a senior, ask what their priorities are and search using those criteria. Adjustable beds, which use a motor to raise and lower different parts of the mattress, are more expensive than a traditional bed frame, but it’s a worthwhile investment for someone who requires a bit more support.
Additional pillows can be helpful
A variety of pillows, including some with firmer support, may be helpful for sleeping. There are tons of different types of pillows, ranging from traditional feather and down pillows to more modern memory foam and microbead options. If you use a sleep apnea machine, there are even specific pillows that are made to accommodate the cords and tubes of a CPAP machine.
Not every pillow is great for sleeping. Some are more beneficial if you like to sit up in bed to watch TV or read, so having a variety is helpful.
Ensure all seating is easy to get in to and out of
As we age, our ratio of muscle power to body weight starts to go down. The result is that getting up from a seated position can become quite difficult. Many people combat this issue by choosing furniture that’s less comfortable but offers a hard, stable surface to sit on.
If you’re outfitting a senior’s living room with new furniture, focus on the height and depth of the furniture, rather than the upholstery. Taller people generally need a deeper seat, but if someone is shorter, a shallow seat is preferable. Having the person in the store to test out options can be helpful.
Recliners and lift chairs can help people with mobility issues
If a person has more advanced mobility issues, a recliner or even a lift chair is a great option for living room seating. A recliner allows a person to raise their feet up, which is helpful to combat swelling and fatigue. A lift chair uses a motorized lift to help propel a person to their feet, which provides peace of mind and limits injury.
Get rid of slippery accent rugs
Accent rugs are a beautiful way to add color and texture to your home, but if they’re loose or liable to skid, they can be a dangerous tripping hazard. If you’re determined to use accent rugs in your décor, use double-sided tape to secure them to the hardwood floor and pick ones without tassels or fringe.
Choose round tables over square-edged tables
Avoid painful bumps and bruises by picking round-edged tables and furniture. It’s an element of design that you may not notice, but it can be helpful to someone with mobility issues.
Switch out doorknobs for levers
Generally, levers and handles are much easier to grasp than knobs. If you’re outfitting a home for a senior, choosing handles and levers over knobs is a quick fix that makes the home much more accessible.
Boost the lighting
Increasing the brightness and availability of lights is a great way to make a home more accessible for someone with vision problems. In the kitchen, this may mean installing new lights or simply choosing higher wattage bulbs. Concentrate the additional light on areas that need it most, like over the sink, oven, and countertops.
Add padded mats underneath high-traffic areas
One professional tool that hasn’t really gained much popularity in domestic kitchens is the anti-fatigue mat. These non-slip foam mats provide much-needed padding in high-traffic areas so you can stand for long periods of time without straining your feet, knees, and hips. Many people use them underneath the sink or stove so they can provide relief while washing dishes or stirring a long-simmering soup.
Moving from the family home into a smaller apartment or assisted living facility can be difficult for many people. Make the transition as easy as possible by choosing furniture that complements their new lifestyle, while retaining the decorative elements that make their home feel personal.