Recent data from the National Household Sample Survey (Pnad) of IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) show that people over the age of 60 already represent 16.2% of the entire population of Brazil. That is, 30 million people. By 2050, that number is expected to triple, and the country could have the 6th oldest population on the planet.
In the United States according to INDEX MUNDI 16.03% of the population (Men – 23 million and Women – 29 million) are over 65 years.
Given this scenario, there is an increasing demand for the adaptation of real estate, whose objective is to make them safer and more functional for this portion of the population that does not stop growing.
This need exists because 37% of the total hospital care involving accidents corresponds to falls of the elderly in the home environment. Therefore, preparing the environment to receive them is not only to offer more comfort, but also to protect their lives and physical integrity.
Home for the Elderly
Several points are analyzed and all rooms of the residence are part of the project.
In the living room, for example, the furniture should be attached to the floor or wall, since they can serve as support for those who have difficulty walking.
Sofas and armchairs, besides being firm, need to have height so that both feet remain on the floor, facilitating the process of sitting down and getting up. It is also recommended that they have armrests and high back support.
Avoid rugs and have medium-height furniture and rounded corners so that the elderly do not need to get down or stretch too far to get something.
Drawers also need safety locks so that they do not fall when opened and, if possible avoid glass furniture, which offers more risk of accidents.
In the case of stereos and TV, they must have remote control and wires attached to the wall or furniture. The landline also needs to be in an easily accessible place.
In the kitchen, it is recommended that the cabinets are within reach of the arms, between 50cm and 150cm high, which prevents the elderly from having to get down or climb stairs to pick something up. In addition to that, the countertops and sinks must be between 80cm and 95cm, making it easy to handle food and to clean.
If the house has more than one floor, it is important that the elderly room is on the ground floor, with easy access to the bathroom. The bed must have a height that allows support to the feet on the floor, something between 45 and 65 cm. The mattress and pillows should be in accordance with the weight and height of the elderly in order to maintain good sleep quality. Here, the rounded furniture tip also applies.
The bathroom, the most dangerous room in the house for the elderly, needs to have a non-slip floor and support bars in the shower and next to the toilet. The most suitable taps and knobs are in the form of levers – easier to handle than circular ones. The doors must have a minimum width of 80 cm, to allow the passage of walkers and wheelchairs, and can not have locks (this facilitates access and help).
If the house has stairs, install handrails on both sides and demarcate the beginning and end with fluorescent lights or stripes on the floor. Handrails can start just before the stairs, to give additional support. And in the hallways, as well as on the stairs, the demarcation must exist, especially if there is any uneven. In this space, support bars are also indicated.
In the outdoor areas, such as gardens, which are usually exposed to rain, the floor should be non-slip and with uneven signs. In addition to that, details such as the floor of the entire residence should be noted. Ideally, install non-slip floors, thus building firmer surfaces for a smooth motion of the elderly. This avoids the risk of falls. The walls should also be of light colors, which better reflect light.
As it turns out, an adapted house becomes safer and provides more autonomy and confidence to the elderly, ensuring that they move freely, contributing to a better self-esteem and quality of life.