December 9, 2020

Aging in place can allow elderly adults to live independently in the comfort of their own homes —  but it’s also important to make sure that their most-used spaces are safe, accessible, and ready for their changing needs. This includes the room where so many of us love to relax, unwind, and spend quality time with family and friends: the living room. 

The living room is the centerpiece of many Chicago homes. These spaces are typically large and centrally located, and people of all ages tend to use them each and every day. 

Ready to help your aging loved one relax in comfort, while staying safe at every step of the way? Here are six ways to use design and decor to create a more safe, senior-friendly living room:

1.) Make Plenty of Room

Space is one of the most important elements in a senior-friendly living room. Make sure the room has a clean and clutter-free layout with wide, straight paths that leave plenty of room to navigate with a walker or wheelchair. If necessary, consider opening up doorways to make them wider and more wheelchair-friendly. 

Make sure that furniture is positioned so that older adults can lean on it for balance, when needed. Position tables and storage consoles so that older adults can use them comfortably, without having to stretch or strain. Make sure there is plenty of room for older adults to transfer in and out of furniture (for example, if they need to transfer from a wheelchair to the sofa, make sure that the coffee table will not be in the way). 

Above all, make sure that the room is free of clutter! From overflowing bookshelves to piles of newspapers, clutter is a major safety hazard that can increase the likelihood of suffering a fall. For some ideas on getting an older adult’s home cleaned and organized, check out our handy guide. 

2.) Choose the Right Furniture

Choose couches and chairs that are supportive and sturdy. High, sturdy armrests can make it easier for older adults to get in and out of furniture. Similarly, make sure that the furniture is standard height or higher; too low to the ground, and it can be very difficult for the older adult to get in and out safely. Don’t opt for furniture that is too “soft,” as this can also make it harder to get up when needed. Use cushions, pillows, and blankets to supplement seat height and add comfort.  

Make sure that all furniture items are stable, with no wobbling or swaying. Avoid furniture with sharp corners, which can be dangerous. 

Finally, make sure you choose the furniture pieces that the elderly adult will actually use. Think about how they will actually enjoy the space each day. What are their hobbies? How will they spend time in the living room? Try to create a layout that will allow the space to suit their lifestyle, and not the other way around — whether the senior needs room to work on paintings; a reading nook and bookshelves by the window; TV trays that will make it easier to eat in the living room; or large table for playing cards and board games.

3.) Invest in Senior-Friendly Lighting and Electronics

Lighting is one of the most important considerations for creating a safe and senior-friendly space. Make sure that all of the lighting in the living room is clear and bright. In addition to overhead lighting, consider adding nightlights and table lamps, which can be easier for older adults to access while seated. Make sure that lightswitches are easily accessible near the front entrance to the room, and consider adding remote-controlled lighting systems so that the senior can make adjustments without having to get up. For a complete guide to senior-friendly lighting, check out our handy guide here. 

In many Chicago living rooms, the TV is the centerpiece. If your loved one uses their living room for entertainment, make sure to review their electronics system. Is the TV large and clear enough for seniors with changing vision? Is the closed captioning enabled for older adults with hearing loss? Think about whether you can consolidate remotes using a universal remote; there are many senior-friendly models that feature larger buttons and even voice control capabilities. Electronics cords can pose a tripping hazard, so make sure to bundle cords or keep them safely tucked behind furniture; do not run cords along floors or under rugs. 

Finally, comfort is key. Make sure that your loved one’s ceiling fan comes with a remote control, and make sure their thermostat is easily accessible so that they can set their home to the right temperature, all year round. Smart thermostats can make it easier to control the temperature, while saving energy. 

4.) Don’t Overlook Your Floors

In the living room, safety starts from the bottom up. Consider the floors in the senior’s living space. Some types of flooring — including tile, vinyl, and natural stone — can be too slippery for older adults. For carpeted floors, choose low-pile carpeting, instead of shag. Low-pile carpeting tends to be easier to navigate with wheelchairs and walkers; it also presents less of a tripping hazard and can be easier to clean. 

To minimize slipping and sliding, consider getting rid of loose rugs. If you choose to keep rugs, make sure they are secure and held firmly in place by using non-slip mats, carpet staples, or double-sided tape. 

5.) Add Railings and Grab Bars as Needed

For extra support, consider adding handy grab bars and other safety features around the space.

A transfer pole can be utilized in the seating area. These handy devices offer support that can help seniors with limited mobility get in and out of chairs. You might also consider installing grab bars in the hallway or near entrances to the bathroom, kitchen or staircase. There are lots of railings and bars that are aesthetically pleasing, as well as functional. 

For more ideas on creating a more safe and senior-friendly home environment from top to bottom, check out our post here. 

6.) Bring On a Helping Hand

One of the best ways to make sure your loved one is able to make the most of their time at home is to give them the personalized support they need to live a more independent and active lifestyle. That’s where in-home care comes in. 

Also known as home care, companion care, or respite care, in-home care is all about lending a helping hand and empowering seniors to live to the fullest in the comfort and safety of home. This affordable and flexible type of long-term care can provide assistance with the things that older adults need to make the most of every day. From a few hours a week to 24 hours a day, a companion can provide useful services, including:

Keep in mind that it’s all about finding what works for your senior loved one. Whether the older adult in your life could benefit from a companion for a night at the opera; a driver to help them attend doctor’s appointments; or a full-time personal aide who can help them settle into their living room safely, there are options out there for every situation. 

Live In Chicago or the Suburbs? Companions for Seniors Is Here for You

Ready to talk over more ideas for making your elderly loved one’s home safer and more accommodating? Curious about what it takes to get started with in-home care? We are always here and ready to keep the conversation going! 

At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help Chicagoland’s seniors live independently and with dignity at home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.

Our companions are trained and bonded, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help the elderly age in place comfortably and safely, without having to uproot their lives and move into expensive and restrictive institutionalized care facilities. 

We will work with your family to develop a personalized care plan specifically tailored for your loved one’s needs, and your own hopes and goals as a family caregiver. We believe in fostering an open dialogue and sharing ideas; always going the extra mile with our services; and providing flexible care at the right price for every household.

We are locally owned and operated in Chicago, with service available in the city and surrounding suburbs. Have any more questions? Interested in seeing what sets our home care services apart? Give us a call at 866-910-9020, or get in touch online using our contact form, available here.