The U.S. senior population is growing as Baby Boomers continue to age. Many of those seniors are looking to be part of a community that houses people of all stages of life. Fortunately for them and for you, there are simple ways to make your community senior friendly, while also appealing to younger generations.
As seniors age simple tasks such as walking around the community can be difficult and even dangerous. Following are three suggestions that will keep your community navigable and safe for all residents:
1. Lighting. Make sure to keep important signs and entryways well lit so that seniors can navigate well in the dark. You will also need to carefully light the walkways throughout the community. Full cut off lighting and low bollards are useful options that won’t impair senior residents’ vision at night. Layering the lighting with higher and lower fixtures will also support your aging renters.
2. Walkways . Remember that it is difficult for seniors to walk, shuffle or use wheelchairs on certain flooring. Concrete is always a safe option, although there are other choices that could prove to be more stylish while still providing easy mobility. Either way, be sure to check the walkways in your community to make sure they are “senior-proof.”
3. Seating. Many of your aging residents tire quickly and will look for convenient spots to rest on their morning/evening walk. Strategically place benches or other forms of seating throughout the community will allow seniors to rest when they need to and will prevent dangerous falls.
The general idea for the layout of senior-friendly units is to make space wider and more open. Knowing that many seniors utilize mobility devices such as wheelchairs and walkers, ensure that doorways and hallways are wide enough to allow easy passage for these sometimes bulky items.
There are many other simple things one can do to tailor a unit to seniors’ needs. The following are only a few suggestions. Hard flooring, such as wood or vinyl will be easier for seniors to walk or roll on than carpet (and requires less maintenance too). Peepholes at two different levels on the front door will provide easier access to those in a wheelchair. The presence of many windows will allow for plenty of daylight, contributing to a positive mood among seniors. The ability to look out on the community also helps older residents to feel like a part of the community and less lonely.
The Kitchen. Be sure to provide extra turn radius room and an increased room width, even if it means a little remodeling. Slide out or open cabinets can enable an easier, user-friendly experience for aged renters. Loop cabinet pulls, rather than nobs or lack of pull on cabinets, provides the simplest solution for the opening and closing of cabinets and drawers. Ensure that the sink isn’t too wide to prevent those in wheelchairs from using it.
The Bathroom. Just like the kitchen, exceed the required minimum for turn radius room and provide plenty of space in the shower and next to the toilet. This will make it easier for those who need assistance with bathroom related activities. Install grab bars and a foldout bench in the shower, along with a shower head with a handheld option. Add in a night lighting feature in the bathroom so that seniors can conveniently find their way there during the night. Keep in mind that slip resistant flooring such as smaller tiles with more grout lines act as a preventative measure against slips and falls.
The application of simple suggestions such as those mentioned above will attract more seniors to your community, while continuing to appeal to younger generations!