Above: Interior design for senior living.
Moving into a new space can feel overwhelming at first. Not knowing what items to keep or where to put them can feel like a laundry list of tasks for many people and it can be difficult knowing how to make the most of your new space. Creating a space that feels warm, welcoming and like home is an important part of developing a smooth and comfortable transition into an assisted living and memory support community. Here are our top tips for ensuring that your loved one has a new space that they can enjoy and feel confident about calling home.
1. Find the Keepers
Consolidating furniture, personal belongings, clothes and accessories is often part of moving. Therefore, it’s important to consider what items are the keepers and what can be thrown out or donated to a local charity.
Before moving into your new space is a great time to distinguish these items, however, you can also continue to review these items after you’ve already moved into the new space. Set out your items and create separate piles. One pile will be for items that are must-haves, one pile is for items that can be donated, and one is for items that aren’t quite donatable and should be thrown out.
Once you’ve identified these items, you’ll have a better understanding of what you really have to work with for the move and also will be able to identify what items might need to be purchased as well. Depending on the size and space of the new home, you’ll want to plan accordingly.
2. Evaluate the Size and Layout
Based on the new home’s floor plan, it’s important to analyze further what items will work in this new space and what items simply won’t. If you have a large sectional sofa, but the space only allows for a loveseat and a couple of accent chairs, this might be the better option to opt for. Keeping in mind that a clear and easy to navigate walking space should always be present.
3. Storage is Key
Regardless if the new space has a lot of storage, this is an important part of this move. There are many alternatives for spaces that lack storage. Consider furniture that doubles as a storage compartment such as an ottoman, storage baskets in shelves or armoires.
4. Prevent Falls and Injuries
Again, I cannot stress enough how important maintaining clear walkways is. Reducing tripping hazards by tucking away wires, incorporating nonslip rugs, and keeping corners protected with rubber stoppers is a great way to create a safe living environment for seniors. I would also suggest replacing any glass furniture with wood or something shatter-proof.
5. Colors are Important
Stay clear of busy patterns or designs with dark spots throughout the space. These can create unrest with people living with dementia. Instead opt for optimal colors that improve visibility by creating contract in color against one another. For example, ensure the drapes are lighter than the wall that they’re next to (or vice versa) and keep palettes neutral. Research shows that colors like green, yellow and blue create the sense of healing – these might be ideal! Also, for accent elements like dishes finding colors that enhance appetite are recommended such as bold yellow, blue and red.
6. Function is Crucial
Placing items near or around where your loved one often frequents is a great way to design the new space. Sit down with them and verbally walk-through their entire day so that you know where to place items like their phone, alarm clock, dishware, and personal products so that they are easy to access. Adding functional comforts like seating in the closet and bathroom where they can safely dress and undress, nonslip rugs, and throw blankets in each room are a great way to ensure that your loved one is safe and comfortable at all times.
7. Lighting is a Must
Easy to access lighting is a great element to include in your interior design plans. Consider motion-sensor lights that simply plug-in to the wall outlets near the ground so that your loved one can clearly see where they are walking when it gets darker out. Having lamps as accent lighting is a great way to create a warm and inviting space. Ensure that the cords are taped to furniture with electrical tape and secured out of the walking path to avoid tripping hazards.
8. Encourage Socialization
Ensuring that there are comfortable accent pillows in the seating area, having family photos visible throughout to evoke conversation, and having entertainment activities such as cards, chess or books around are a great way to encourage socialization in the new space.
9. Be Careful
Avoid faux fruit decorations and items that might confuse your loved one. Even faux plants with berries might lead your loved one to thinking they’re edible which can pose choking hazards. When in doubt, leave it out.
10. Finishing Touches
Research has shown that many people associate healing with nature. Creating a space with outdoor features such as color, texture, light and neutral accents can create a restorative environment.