Design for an Ageing Population

By April 12, 2019 May 7th, 2019 Interior Design, Project Management, Knowledge & Tips

In the UK, the population is ageing since we’re typically living longer and having children later.  Whilst living longer is great, quality of life and being able to stay in your own home is paramount to successfully enjoying and making the most of your later life.

We’re seeing more and more clients asking us to provide designs either for older users or to ‘future proof’ their homes for their own older years. We can suggest simple, functional solutions to overcome these issues.  Good design has the power to transform the life of an elderly client or relative- so what should you be considering?

We recently attended a talk by Gilly Craft, President of the BIID- on Design for an Aging Population.  Here are our favourite ‘take-aways’ from her talk:

Avoid Trips and Falls

A fall can be extremely serious so it is vital that your design avoids any possible trip hazards:

  • Avoid using rugs. They are trip hazards especially to people with impaired vision, walking frames or Dementia/ Alzheimer patients. If you’re worried about it feeling cold then consider UFH to ensure the flooring is warm underfoot without the need for rugs.
  • Avoid using patterned flooring. This can be confusing for people with poorer eyesight, particularly people with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. It becomes more difficult to distinguish flooring patterns with obstacles & objects. This could result in your client trying to pick up pieces of the floor pattern or tripping. More on this here.
  • Ensure good even lighting throughout- avoid shadows. See our guide to lighting for advice getting started with a lighting plan.

Bright, even lighting throughout makes it easier to avoid trips and falls

Make daily tasks easier

To retain independence. Talk to the client and find out what they struggle with currently.  Can this be made easier?

  • Chairs should have seats at a convenient height, with arms to help with sitting and standing
  • Are things organised sensibly and in the easiest way to use or find (i.e. cups and tea bags near the kettle).
  • Would labels or pictures help? (NB- Dementia Patients find pictures easier to understand than words)

Parquet floor and rugs are beautiful, but not always the right choice for 3rd age design

Improve quality of life & design

  • Encourage engaging activities: space for socialising; puzzles group activities, reading, chatting etc
  • Beautiful design: this is your clients home. You do not need to compromise on style to make it functional.
  • Make sure finishes & fittings are good quality, easy to clean & maintain and long lasting.

Safety

  • Automatic switch off for hobs, ovens etc
  • Taps which avoid scalding
  • Walk in showers or baths

Walk-in showers are safer to use than baths

If you are interested in making your home suitable for an elderly user then get in touch. We’ve plenty more tips and good practice advice for preparing your home for the 3rd age.