Geriatric architecture is an emerging field becoming more and more important as our population ages. Today’s architects are seeking to make a more comfortable, homey experience for the elderly, while still providing the essential safety features seen in traditional assisted living facilities and geriatric doctor’s offices.
One of the easiest ways to promote safety in geriatric architecture projects is to focus on flooring accessories and slip-resistant solutions. Here are the top accessories we recommend to meet these needs.
Safe Transitions for the Elderly
We’ve noticed a trend of large, old homes being rezoned and renovated into assisted living facilities or physician’s offices. This is great because of the homey feel these structures naturally have, but renovations are often needed to make the spaces compatible with today’s healthcare standards.
One of the most important safety measures you can take is to add transition strips, which are used to join two different pieces of flooring together. Transition strips eliminate exposed edges and differences in thickness that can lead to trips and falls.
For example, many of these old homes have wooden door bases that a wheelchair or walker could get stuck on. These can be replaced with low profile transitions, removing the hazard and making it easier for the elderly patients to get around without assistance.
Transition strips come in a huge variety of materials to match the look and feel of your project. Many architects planning physician’s offices and homes for the elderly choose wood or wood laminate profiles because they look warm and homey while still providing practical safety measures.
Cove Base for Elderly Homes and Medical Facilities
Cove base is an essential flooring accessory for geriatric facilities because it protects the walls from the constant shuffling of chairs, walkers, and canes.
Geriatric architects planning assisted living facilities often choose more decorative cove base, typically in wood or a higher-end PVC, like Gradus’ Stratum skirting, which is stain and scratch resistant.
We generally recommend the Stratum line over wood because it is less expensive, won’t chip or splinter, and is low maintenance and easy to clean. It has all of the benefits of PVC without the sterile, industrial look.
Geriatric physician’s offices also need cove base. For these projects, we again recommend Gradus’ Stratum skirting.
Another alternative, however, would be to use linoleum or vinyl flooring in the room, then curve it up the wall with a cove former and capping seal, eliminating the need for an additional cove base. This is often the most cost-effective option.
Slip-Resistant Solutions for Eldercare Facilities
One of the easiest ways geriatric architects and interior designers can make an elderly facility more homey is to add rugs and mats. This instantly elevates the space from sterile and medical to warm and familiar.
These rugs and mats can, however, become trip and slip hazards, creating an obstruction for canes, walkers, and wheelchairs.
Rug GripperTM works on all flooring surfaces, including tile, wood, laminate, and even carpet, preventing rugs and mats from bunching, sliding, or creating other hazards for the elderly or others with limited mobility. Stay ‘n’ PlaceⓇ is similar to Rug GripperTM, but is better suited for smaller throw rugs and mats.
Both are relatively inexpensive solutions that can make a major impact on safety.
As a geriatric architect, your goal is to create medical and living facilities that aren’t only safe for the elderly, but are also places that will make them feel comfortable and at home. It can be a delicate balance, but these flooring accessories and solutions are the perfect starting point.