Considering the rising costs of healthcare and longer life expectancies, assisted living facilities and nursing homes may not be top of the list when you’re planning your retirement.
You wish to remain independent in the home you have created and nurtured for so many years. Or perhaps the Covid pandemic has made you realize that you want your elderly loved ones to live with you for as long as possible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”
Your bedroom is your sanctuary and should be designed to keep you safe and comfortable as you face the physical and psychological challenges that arise with age.
What Are the Principles of Safe Bedroom Design?
According to a 2013 study, “falls are the leading cause of injuries requiring emergency treatment in adults aged 65 and older and lead to more hospital admission and deaths than any other type of trauma.”
You can achieve a safe bedroom that is highly functional and more comfortable for its senior citizen users by ergonomically combining these seven key design principles:
It’s vital that you ensure there is plenty of space to mitigate the risks of any tripping hazards. As Jill Bjerke advises, don’t be afraid of empty spaces when you declutter.
Straight lines are a simple way to visually guide you or an older loved one, and they become valuable wayfinding tools if you struggle with visual impairments or dementia.
Form can be natural or geometric, and open or closed. A simple application would be the choice to use laminated finishes that look natural but are durable and easy to clean.
With age, eyesight may become difficult. Natural light is often best and it’s essential to maintain as much consistency as possible.
The color scheme you choose for a senior citizen-friendly bedroom should be dementia-friendly and provide good contrast. Avoid decor choices such as a piece of furniture that fades into the background and risks becoming a tripping hazard.
If your bedroom seems to be missing a little je ne sais quoi, you can try adding some texture or low-contrasting patterns, keeping the size of the room in mind. It’s a good idea, for example, to avoid stripes in designs for senior citizens diagnosed with dementia.
Bedroom Modifications for Elderly
Some recommendations by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors when you plan bedroom modifications for the elderly include the following:
- Choose a ground-floor bedroom for easy access or consider installing an elevator or chair lift.
- Keep clutter to a minimum and the floor clear with wall storage to prevent falls and injuries.
- Install safety handles or rails to prevent falls and for easier access.
- Include an exercise section for mobility-impaired bedroom users.
- Ensure easy and quick access to a bathroom or build an adjoining bathroom.
- Provide remote temperature and lighting control, install light fixtures in the closets, and a night light in the bathroom.
Watch this short video where Trina of Alice Caire offers some alternative, practical steps to set up an elderly person’s bedroom.
How to Set Up Bedroom for Elderly
Choose sturdy furniture that fits the bedroom’s size without overcrowding it. There should be easy access to the closets, doors, and windows as well as to and from the nearby bathroom.
Make sure all the windows have secure locks especially if the bedroom is on the ground floor. It’s also important that the window fittings are easy to use if you struggle with arthritis or are visually impaired.
Place items that are in daily use within easy reach to minimize excessive movement and potential falls, especially when your mobility is restricted.
If you have installed a TV or electronic biomedical equipment in the bedroom, secure cables out of the way to reduce the risk of falls and injuries.
Senior Citizen Bedroom Ideas
Keeping safe design principles in mind, try the following to make a bedroom senior citizen-friendly:
- If you need to use a hospital bed, choose more luxurious linen and furnishings to balance the harsh functionality of the bed.
- Wall-to-wall carpeting is an ideal way to reduce the risk of a fall and soften the impact of one.
- For better climate control and noise reduction, improve the insulation of the bedroom walls, ceiling, and flooring.
- Install a telephone or an intercom system for quick and easy communication with other members of the household and emergency medical services.
- Incorporate familiar decor items and furniture pieces that meet the design safety requirements to ease the transition into the new bedroom.
Implement your ideas with a design app or software before you spend thousands of dollars on unnecessary modifications or items that are unsuitable for your senior citizen bedroom.
Getting older doesn’t mean losing your independence or becoming a burden to your loved ones. Incorporate key design principles like space, light, and color to make a bedroom a comfortable and safe place for a senior citizen.
If you have a little more space like Ferne who built a tiny home for her “mature age” mother Merle, your senior citizen bedroom design dreams can be as big as you wish. Making your home easily and safely accessible benefits everybody in your household.
- Rachel Bustin: Ergonomics In The Bedroom – A Guide For The Best Furniture Placement
- Innova Care Concepts: How to Apply the 7 Principles of Interior Design to Care Homes
- Society of Certified Senior Advisors: How To Design Senior Friendly Bedrooms
- S F Gate: How to Design Bedrooms for Elderly People
- Aging in Place: Bedroom Ideas
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Slipping and tripping: fall injuries in adults associated with rugs and carpets
- Aging In Place: Important Updates And Modifications For The Bedroom