Reno right: A safe home for your elders

We answer your frequently asked reno and decor questions.


Question: I live in a multigenerational family and need to cater to the needs of the elderly. Apart from grab bars in the bathrooms and non-slip tiles, what else is important?

Answer: According to Arjan Nijen Twilhaar, principal designer at Aiden T, it is essential for older folks to be able to navigate their home easily.

Start at the main entrance and make sure that the house is easy to enter by choosing flooring with some traction, and avoiding dark floors if there are height differences, as this makes it harder to see the step. Keys can be a problem for unsteady hands so opt for a digital lock with card access of fingerprint recognition, and levers instead of doorknobs.

Keep lighting bright and at consistent levels throughout the home, and watch out for glare and reflection. Sensor-activated lights can be used in hallways and bathrooms.

“Home automation systems are ideal for people with limited mobility, as they can control lights, air conditioning, and the stereo from one single device,” he adds. He recommends installing a cordless phone in the bathroom, as the intercom function can offer a line out in case help is needed.

He also suggests Blum’s Servo-Drive automated kitchen drawers that open and close effortlessly with the touch of the hand; keeping bed heights to knee-level (below 45cm), as well as installing grab bars to aid the elderly person in getting in and out of bed.