Housing is inevitably stress-inducing for everyone involved. Whether you’re a college student trying to find an apartment that is both affordable and conveniently located or an established professional looking for a new house to start a family, housing can be tricky—and stressful—to navigate. It seems that with all of the new technology and numerous budding housing options, this complicated industry repeatedly forgets its most loyal residents: the seniors.
It’s become somewhat of a universal assumption that when we get to a certain age, we’ll move out of our long-lived-in homes and into a nursing home or hospital of sorts. After all of the years, renovations, and work put into our homes, why would we want to leave? With universal design, we can enjoy our homes—our safe havens—as long as we’d like, or can.
Universally designed homes are usable by everyone without the need for an adaptation or adjustment, regardless of age or ability of the inhabitants. Universal design allows seniors to easily and safely continue to live in their homes with the use of various features including wide doorways, heightened toilet seats, non-skid bathroom tile, no-step front doors, and double handrails on staircases.
The use of wide doorways a simple fix to a number of problems residents might face throughout their lifetime. Owning a home with wide doorways can be beneficial throughout all stages of life. Whether you have to move strollers in and out of the house to take the kids for a walk, own a large dog, deal with an injury that inhibits your mobility, or use a walker/wheelchair, wide doorways are suitable for all walks of life. Although a simple feature of universal design, wide doorways are undoubtedly a game changer, especially for senior residents.
Heightened Toilet Seats
This is such a small, unnoticeable feature that it’s surprising it isn’t more common in traditionally designed houses. Raised toilet seats cater to the needs of senior residents who might face struggles walking and sitting, either temporarily or permanently. Heightened toilet seats allow residents to safely use the bathroom without assistance. Typical toilet seats are so low that seniors frequently face injuries slipping off or falling down. With a heightened toilet seat, seniors can feel comfortable using the restroom and not worrying about potential injuries.
Non-skid Bathroom Tile
This universal design feature goes along with the previous one. The bathroom is one of the unsafest rooms for seniors. From tall bathtubs to low toilet seats to slippery floors, senior residents face a number of potential injuries in the bathroom. With non-skid bathroom tile, seniors can avoid a number of these accidents. Traditional bathroom tile isn’t just incredibly dangerous when it’s wet, but it can be very slippery when it’s dry, too. This hazardous tile can cause seniors to lose balance, with a painful fall on the solid ground. Non-skid bathroom tile allows seniors to feel safe in the bathroom, whether they’re stepping out of the shower or using the bathroom in the middle of the night.
No-step Front Doors
Sometimes the injuries begin before seniors even enter the house. Front porches with steps can cause accidents for seniors because many front steps lack effective handrails. Also, in the winter months, front porches and steps can get icy and incredibly dangerous to climb while maintaining balance. With no-step front doors, residents can easily enter the home without having to risk it on a small flight of steps. Also, residents with walkers and wheelchairs have access to their homes without having to install a ramp. Like the wide doorways, no-step front doors are convenient for residents throughout their entire lives. Whether you’re pushing a stroller or a wheelchair, no-step front doors take away the stress of entering your home.
Double Handrails on Staircases
While most staircases have a handrail on one side, it’s sometimes not enough for seniors using the stairs. Universal design offers double handrails for staircases, which help keep senior residents balanced when moving from floor to floor throughout the house. If the laundry room is in the basement or the master bedroom is on the second floor, the stairs don’t have to be an obstacle for senior residents anymore. With a handrail on each side of the staircase, seniors can use both to support their upper body as they step up or down. This can help prevent injuries due to tripping or falling down a long set of stairs.
Our homes are our happy places, so why would we want to abandon them as we age? Universal design keeps residents of all ages in mind, so whether you’re just looking for your first home or enjoying your peaceful years of retirement, you can be comfortable and confident with staying in your beloved home.