The ageing population is an issue that no country wants to ignore. For this reason, new buildings are being designed with elderly residents in mind. With an increasing number of people over the age of 65 and not enough housing options for them, many developers are building affordable senior living communities.
These new buildings are also equipped with features that cater to their special needs, such as accessible entrances, emergency generators in case of power outages and fountains instead of staircases. These buildings give elderly people a secure place to live while also making it easier for them to maintain their independence by providing services such as cleaning and maintenance.
However, when planning your own structure, there are certain things you need to keep in mind so that it’s not just another old folks’ home but a real home away from home for those who will be living there.
1. Natural light and views
When designing your elderly accommodations, make sure to incorporate lots of natural light and views. Seniors crave natural light, and research shows that exposure to natural light can improve their mood and sleep quality. This can have a positive impact on their overall well-being.
Views can also have a positive impact on senior’s health, so look for ways to incorporate this into your building’s layout. Even if your building’s floor plan doesn’t allow for this, there are other ways to incorporate natural light and views.
For example, you can use windows in the stairwells, atrium and/or in the common areas of the building. You can also use skylights or light tubes that let natural light into the interior of the building.
2. Wide doors and hallways
When building elderly accommodations, you need to take the special needs of seniors into account. Seniors often have difficulty moving around and can’t lift their hands above their shoulders, so you’ll need wide doors and hallways to accommodate them. Wide doorways should be 32 inches wide and hallways should be at least 36 inches wide.
Look for ways to incorporate wider doorways into your floor plan. For example, you can use pocket doors that swing into the wall. In addition, make sure to have wide stairwells with handrails. Seniors can get spooked by the darkness of the stairwells, so look for ways to make them brighter.
3. Staircases with handrails
Seniors often need assistance with stairs, so a feature worth considering when building elderly accommodations is the use of handrails on staircases. Install handrails on both sides of the staircases, not just at the top. This way, residents can hold on to the commercial-grade handrails on both sides as they go down the stairs.
Another option is to remove the stairs from the building, and put in an elevator. This solution works best in a 2-floor building, as an elevator to a 4-storey building can be costly.
Alternatively, you can use a spiral staircase that is safer than a regular staircase. A spiral staircase, however, does not have handrails, so make sure there are sufficient handrails around the building to assist people with this type of staircase.
4. Well-marked walkways and corners
Seniors have a harder time seeing, which can make walking around the building difficult. To make it easier, you can mark walkways with contrasting paint and install contrasting corner strips.
You can also install automated doors to assist the seniors with limited mobility. These doors have sensors that open when someone approaches. Moreover, you can put lights near walkways and near the doors to make them more visible.
5. Bathroom layouts with grab bars
When building elderly accommodations, you can also make it easier for seniors to get around by adding grab bars in the bathrooms. In the washrooms, put grab bars near the toilets, showers and sinks. This way, seniors can hold on to the bars when washing their hands, taking showers and using the toilets.
You can also add grab bars in other parts of the building, such as in the stairwells and next to chairs. This is helpful for seniors who have trouble standing up.
As our population ages, it is increasingly important to build homes and communities that are accessible and safe for people of all ages. This means that buildings need to be designed with special consideration for seniors, who often have special needs due to their age, health, and disabilities. This includes features such as wider hallways and doorways, windows in the shower rooms, and grab bars in the bathrooms.
When designing your building, make sure to look for these features to provide elderly residents with the best possible experience.