In Singapore, around 9% of adults aged 65 or above live alone and if you are one of them, then it is important to find a comfortable, safe home for your health and happiness.
If you are buying a home in the City, chances are, family and friends will be close enough to visit, but the location is just one piece of the puzzle.
When visiting potential homes with your real estate agent, keep a few key safety considerations in mind.
What Type of Layout are You After?
Singapore offers a wide range of accommodations – everything from terraced houses to semi-detached, detached, villas, condos, and the like.
If you are 65 and fighting fit, you may be tempted to opt for a cute two-storey penthouse or villa, but if this is going to be your permanent home, bear in mind that in Singapore, around 85% of all trauma injuries in the elderly are caused by falls – and stairs are one of the biggest risk areas a home could have.
If space is an issue, a bungalow or one-floor penthouse could provide all the space you need, without necessitating potentially painful walks up and down flights of steps.
Some seniors also rely on systems which alert health services if they have had a fall. Simply wearing an emergency device helps you feel more secure and enable you to enjoy your independence without the fear of isolation.
Watching for Trip and Fall Risks Outside and In
The entrance to your home should be easily accessible; avoid steps if you can or consider placing a ramp by the steps if you use a wheelchair.
Other fall risks include floor level changes between rooms. If you’ve fallen in love with a home with a few minor levelling problems, affordable solutions such as threshold and transition strips will do the trick.
The type of flooring is also important when it comes to falls. Marble looks beautiful and sophisticated but can be very slippery and hard if you have a fall. Softer options such as wood or laminated flooring are gentler choices that are equally easy to clean.
Opting for a Minimalist Layout
If you have a load of furniture from an old home and you are purchasing a new one, ask yourself which items you really need.
Clean, clutter-free styles are holding sway among the world’s top designers. Not only do simple designs enable more light to enter a room, but they also reduce the risk of falls considerably.
When designing your new home or buying an all-furnished one, avoid low-lying furniture, loose rugs and carpets, and other items on the floor that can easily be missed when you are in a rush.
Safe Bathrooms are Key
While it is easy to install shower grab bars to provide you with extra support in the bathroom, if can, opt for a home with a walk-in shower in at least one of your bathrooms (the one you will be using more often).
If you use a wheelchair, then the door entrance should be a minimum of 34 inches wide so you can comfortably make your way in and out. The Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates a turning radius of five feet.
Other changes to make include keeping the top of the sink at around 34 inches from the floor. There should also be around 27 inches of free space beneath the sink.
See more: Learn how to senior proof your home
There are many considerations to make when you are buying a home you plan on spending many years in and the primary consideration should be that of safety.
Avoiding high staircases, ensuring flooring is level, and altering bathrooms to make space for wheelchairs if necessary, will go a long way towards making your home more comfortable and safer.
As far as design is concerned, ensure there is enough free space so you can walk from room to room without the risk of bumping into furniture or tripping over rugs and other moveable items.
This article is written by Cassandra Earlie.