How to design bedrooms for elderly people

senior person image by Peter Baxter from

Many elderly people have firm ideas about what they want in their surroundings. An elderly person often has confidence in her own taste and might value her independence. Elderly people might live in residential care, in assisted living accommodation or in their own homes. However, there are certain common sense measure that could save a lot of heartache. For an elderly person, unfortunately, a fall can often have devastating consequences. This is particularly so when an older person has osteoporosis, and a simple fall can cause a fracture. The design of a bedroom should reflect both safety and aesthetic considerations.

Consult the elderly person at every opportunity. Consider matters of taste and preference, taking advice from the elderly person on colour and fabrics. Make sure the room is well-ventilated, and that the window can be opened and closed easily. Ensure that curtains and fabrics are non-flammable. The temperature of the rooms should be comfortable, not too warm and free of drafts. Ideally, the bedroom should be reasonably big. Some nursing home bedrooms tend to be fairly small.

Consider all aspects of safety. Clutter is a major safety hazard, and some elderly people are rather attached to their possessions. This can cause a dilemma, and might need some imaginative thinking to resolve. Too much furniture makes walking around the room difficult, particularly if the person needs to use a walking cane or other mobility aid. Clutter on top of dressing tables can make dusting and cleaning problematic, and hygiene could be compromised.

Avoid any trailing wires or other trip hazards. Situate an armchair near a window, if possible, so the elderly person can sit and look outside. In a nursing home, personalise the room as much as you can. This can be a comfort to an elderly person, and can also alleviate confusion and disorientation. Ensure the bedroom has various types of light. The elderly person must be able to see, but he might also like to a have a bedside lamp if he likes to read. He should be able to turn the light off without getting out of bed.

Consider the elderly person's toilet and hygiene needs. The bedroom should be adjacent to a bathroom if an en-suite bathroom is not available. If the elderly person has problems with continence, a mattress protector should be fitted. The bed should be comfortable and supportive, and should be at an appropriate height. Ensure that the elderly person's bedroom has enough storage space.

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