As the American population ages, more and more families are opening their homes to elderly family members. According to one study, about two-fifths of adults in the country are responsible for caring for older and ill relatives. Whether you are tending to an elderly individual in your home or the person is taking up residence in an assisted living facility, purchasing furniture with the person's unique age-related needs in mind can make the living space more comfortable and functional. Here are three tips for buying elder-friendly furniture.
Make it Easier to Get Up
Most everyone loves the comfort cushiony couches provide; that is, until they try to actually get up. It can be a struggle for even young and healthy individuals to get up from couches and chairs that are overly deep and soft. Elderly people, who typically don't have the upper body strength to lift themselves up, may find it impossible to escape the gravitational pull of this type of furniture.
When you are shopping around for couches and chairs, opt for furniture that has firm and shallow seating that won't cause your elder relative to sink so far into the cushions he or she can't get up. It may also be helpful to get furniture that sits high off the ground to accommodate bad knees and hips, and make sure the pieces have armrests the person can grip to help lift themselves up.
If your home is already fully furnished and you don't have the money to buy new stuff, another option is to invest in a recliner specifically for your elderly relative to sit in. Recliners often have a number of features that are very beneficial to older people. For instance, some have mechanisms that raise the chair up and tip it forward enough to make it easier to get out of them. Most have built-in foot stools for elevating legs and improving circulation. Consider the unique needs of your love one and try to find a recliner with the features to match.
Vision problems are a fact of life for most elderly people. Because their ability to see is significantly diminished, older people are particularly prone to injuring themselves.
You can mitigate this risk by purchasing round tables or tables with rounded edges to minimize nasty injuries caused by sharp corners. For example, avoid buying tables made with glass or that have glass tops. These pieces can cause severe and fatal cuts if your relative falls and crashes into them. If you must have glass, make sure the piece is made from tempered glass. This type of glass is designed to break into pebble-sized pieces rather than shatter into jagged shards, which reduces the risk of cuts when they break.
Lastly, choose furniture that contrasts with the surrounding decor. For instance, if you have pale-colored carpeting, opt for a dark colored couch rather than a light one. The contrast will make it easier your visually impaired relative to see the item better and avoid it.
Pay a few extra dollars and invest in sturdy solid furniture. You want the pieces to last. More importantly, though, you want to make sure the furniture won't tip over or collapse the moment your elderly relative uses it to steady him or herself. If need be, purchase anchoring kits to secure dressers, headboards, televisions, and other tip-prone pieces to the wall.
To make your life easier, the pieces should also be stain resistant and easy to clean. It's unfortunate, but elderly people are prone to dropping food or drinks or having other embarrassing accidents. Get furniture that can be easily maintained without too much trouble.
Making a living space functional and comfortable for an elderly relative can be challenging, but it's worth the effort so your loved one can enjoy the rest of his or her day in relative ease. For help with choosing the right pieces for your home, work with a professional at a furniture store near you.