Aging in Place? Make a Senior’s Closets Safer and Easier
Are you an aging adult yourself, or do you care for someone who is getting on in years? Then you know that the ability to continue living at home calls for managing the home environment to make things easier and more functional. One often-overlooked place to do just that is in the closet.
How can you make all your closets more useful for an older resident? Here are a few key steps to take.
Keep Things Within Reach
Closets often become filled from the bottom to the top. But this causes problems for those with mobility issues, aching joints, and difficulties with balance. Rather than try to get everything your closets by utilizing the overhead space or placing items on the floor, keep everything within an easy arm’s reach at a comfortable standing or sitting position.
Modern technology even extends to the closet. Start with a motion sensor that controls the main overhead lighting. It will prevent anyone from entering in the dark and ensure that the lights turn off after a person leaves, even if they don’t remember to hit the switch.
Consider opting for remote-controlled elements for storing items, too. You can customize automated systems that rotate racks of clothing, for instance, reducing the need to reach and use arthritic hands.
Less space? Why not add a rod that raises and lowers for comfortable use? Or install drawers or shelves that slide in and out with the push of a button. And what about a connected speaker system in case the user needs assistance?
Include Good Lighting
Lighting is not always something people think of with closets, but it’s important to keep everyone safe. Avoid standing lamps in either walk-in closets or smaller ones because unsecured lights can fall over or be tripping hazards.
Instead, include good overhead lights that provide plenty of light even for the corners and rear of the closet. Add light switches both inside and outside the closet for convenience. And place task lighting around areas where more delicate work will occur, such as where jewelry is kept or near mirrors where makeup is put on.
Use Built-in Units
Loose, unsecured, or stand-alone shelves and drawer systems have no place in a senior’s closet. If the person trips or starts to fall, they might grab for these closet elements to help steady themselves, and if the shelves or drawers fall over or collapse, they can cause worse injuries.
Built-in closet organizers should be installed so they are solid and stable, connected to the walls and anchored to the floor. Replace loose shelves with solid drawers that can be closed and kept out of the way. Opt for solid walls between organizer spaces, and make sure that rods are well supported with additional support hooks in the center when necessary.
Add Resting Space
Getting going in the morning can be challenging, especially if you suffer from chronic ailments like fibromyalgia or neuropathy. Include a spot in your closet to sit down and rest or get more comfortable while changing. It could be anything from a simple built-in bench to a large round ottoman in larger closets. Install hand grips around seating areas so that everyone can easily get up and down unassisted.
There’s clearly more to closet design than meets the eye. By paying extra attention to things like good lighting and solid workmanship as well as what modern technology can offer, you can create a closet that meets a senior’s needs for years to come. For more ideas on updating your closets to age in place, contact the pros at A Tech today.