Whether you are upgrading your own home for universal design, or are remodeling a parent’s home so they can remain in their home longer, one of the key focuses will be on the flooring. Nothing makes a home more unsafe than poor flooring choices.
Choosing a flooring means balancing the safety, the ease of maintenance, and of course the overall look and feel. The ideal choice should be soft to ensure bones aren’t broken in case of a fall. It should be easy to clean and maintain in case of frequent spills. And at the same time, this is still your home; why wouldn’t you want a classic design that will endure many years to come?
Carpet is one of the best choices to offer warmth, comfort and a soft landing in the event of trips and falls. Here in Colorado, warmth is a factor as we face long, cold days and nights throughout the winter months. And because seniors spend more of their time at home in relatively stationary activities, it can be the perfect insulator to help keep them warm. Carpeting can be a great choice, however keep in mind it is also one of the most difficult to clean and maintain. Spills and accidents will have to be cleaned immediately to avoid future stains.
Cork flooring is becoming one of the most popular choices in flooring today. Its very soft underfoot and will provide give if a person trips or falls. Like carpeting, it is a thicker material that provides a fair amount of insulation against noise and heat loss. Cork flooring is also an anti-slip surface and provides natural traction, which means a senior can actually move easier on it to avoid accidents in the first place. Cork flooring is relatively easy to care fore. With a sealant over the surface, it protects from stains. However it is soft and can be damaged easily with sitting water, or punctures from furniture legs, high heels, or other sharp objects.
Linoleum is one of the easiest flooring choices to care for. With routine sweeping and mopping, linoleum will retain its beauty for years. Its also a natural antistatic material, which means dust and other harmful microorganisms will repel from it, keeping the home less prone to allergies and other immune complications. Linoleum itself is a relatively thin material, when installed over a subfloor will not provide much give or support. To provide more cushion, make sure it is installed over padding to make it softer for unexpected landings.
Flooring To Avoid
While any of the above would make great choices, when installing something for the sole purpose of making a seniors life easier, it is important to avoid tile. Natural stone, ceramic, glass and other tiling materials are naturally hard, making them very harsh and unforgiving to people that are prone to trips and falls. They can also create an uneven floor pattern, depending on how its laid, which adds into its potential for a tripping hazard.
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