In 2018, the number of elderly Singaporeans aged 65 and older became equal to the number of people aged 15 and below. Researchers call this phenomenon a demographic time bomb but one thing is certain – the numerous seniors in Singapore have their specific needs.
Designing a home that’s comfortable enough for an elderly tenant depends on adherence to a few key essentials.
When working on such projects, interior design professionals put emphasis on issues like mobility limitations, health issues, convenience and safety.
Ramp and Lift Installation
Mobility issues are the first and probably the most important concern that the interior design firm you hire will need to keep in mind when renovating an HDB apartment that’s occupied by a senior.
Many seniors experience mobility issues that make the climbing of stairs difficult. In addition, some of these individuals will be relying permanently on a wheelchair. The design of the home should be wheelchair-friendly. This may mean broader hallways, larger doorframes and the installation of ramps.
Luckily, the HDB in Singapore has a programme that simplifies the process of lift and ramp installation.
EASE programme provides ramps for residents who live in older flats that feature staircases and multi-step entrances.
In addition, the EASE programme envisions the provision of slip-resistant treatments for floors, the installation of grab bars and ramps for use inside the apartment itself (on top of the ramps that can be installed at the building’s entrance).
Larger apartments that feature a staircase inside could benefit from the installation of a stair lift. While such appliances are costly, they tend to enhance the mobility of wheelchair-bound individuals immensely.
Grab bars are an important residential interior design element in terms of enhancing both mobility and safety.
Grab bars are especially important for installation in the bathroom. There should be at least one grab bar placed by the toilet and one more in the shower.
The installation of grab bars in the hallway, especially next to the door, is also a good choice. Coming home in a rainy day can increase the risk of slips and falls on a wet surface. The availability of grab bars will provide seniors with some leverage and security.
This is one of the simplest and most inexpensive home improvement options for the elderly that will result in a definite improvement in life quality.
In-Home Security Monitors
While older parents and grandparents may want to maintain their independence, younger family members will be worried about them. The installation of in-home security monitors is a good solution, giving everybody peace of mind.
This system consists of cameras that send information and alerts to a connected device.
Some of the systems enable two-way communication. You can listen and watch and you can also provide some feedback, in case a person you love needs some assistance.
In-home security monitors are becoming a standard part of smart home solutions. Many of these systems come with added security features – burglar alarms, intelligent locks and home surveillance options.
Walk-in Bathtub and Bathroom Modifications
A bathroom can easily turn into the most dangerous part of the HDB flat for an older person. The risk of slips and falls is serious and these accidents can have disastrous consequences. These are the reasons why your designer should pay special attention to bathroom modifications.
A walk-in bathtub is one example of a modification that’s perfect for the elderly and the mobility-impaired individuals.
A walk-in bathtub prevents an older person from having to get in or get out a standard bathtub. Such bathroom products, however, tend to be costlier than a standard bathtub. If you cannot afford this solution, a standard shower is a good idea. There are bathing chairs and benches that can be installed underneath the shower head to prevent an elderly person from having to stand for a long period of time while taking a shower.
Anti-slip treatments are an absolute essential in the bathroom. Tiles and enamel become particularly slippery when they’re wet. Anti-slip stickers are one of the simplest and most affordable choices that will deliver an excellent result.
While anti-slip treatments are vitally important in the bathroom, there are other parts of the HDB flat that will benefit from fall-proofing.
Fall-proofing begins with the selection of the right floor materials. Hardwood floors tend to be less slippery than tiles or marble.
It’s also important to eliminate gaps, stumbling blocks between rooms and thresholds between rooms.
Keep the use of carpets minimal. A carpet or a rug can easily make an older person trip and fall. If you want to feature a rug for a bit of comfort, it will need to be properly secured (via placement under solid furniture, for example).
Switch and Socket Improvements
A final area of interior design that deserves some focus is socket and switch accessibility.
A wheelchair-bound person will find it very difficult to reach a light switch placed at a standard height. Hence, the placement of sockets and switches will need to be coordinated with the abilities of the person living inside the flat.
Large-knob switches are also a good choice because some seniors will fumble with the standard, more streamlined varieties.
Sockets should be readily available everywhere. These should be in close proximity to appliances to prevent cables and cords from laying on the floor. Cables can be a serious tripping hazard and their presence should be limited as much as possible.
Most of the interior design changes required to accommodate for the needs of an older person are simple to execute and affordable.
Home Guide has worked on various residential projects aimed at increasing both the safety and the comfort of parents and grandparents.
Take a look at our residential portfolio to acquaint yourself with the modern, yet practical interior design solutions we have to offer. Contact us today to transform your living space and provide an older person you love with all of life’s key necessities, as well as a couple of luxuries.