The Laundry List: Aging-in-Place Modifications for Your Laundry Room

Humans are creatures of habit. We tend to stick to things we like and seldom travel outside of our comfort zone of familiar friends, food and places. However, as we age, things start to change, from friends moving away and growing apart to physical and mental bodily changes. As more things change, we tend to gravitate to constants in our life, usually family and our homes.

This, along with many other reasons including: increased feeling of independence, a comfortable and familiar environment and close proximity to family is why more than 80% of senior’s desire to age-in-place.

Although there are many benefits to seniors aging-in-place, the issue of safety has been a big stumbling block and point of contention for many senior health experts and caregivers. Fortunately, with a little research, planning and a modest budget, smart modifications can be made to any house to accommodate safely aging-in-place.

Over the last month we have been taking an in-depth exploration of aging-in-place modifications that can be made to each room in a house. This week we continue our series by discussing changes that can be made to laundry rooms to increase their accessibility and safety.

Laundry is a chore many people dislike, but it is a necessity, and when it comes down to it, many people prefer to do their own laundry. Making sure the laundry room is in an easily accessible part of the house is important. Since laundry baskets can quickly become full and heavy, having the laundry room in close proximity, and on the same floor as your elderly loved one’s bedroom is a must. Each foot further your loved one has to carry their laundry basket, their risk of an injury or fall increases exponentially. If the laundry room cannot be moved consider a chair lift, rolling hamper, laundry shoot or elevator.

Once you have settled on the location, it is time to think about how the laundry room will be set-up. At a minimum, the space should be easily accessible by walker, wheel chair or any other mobility device. If the living area is small and the washer and dryer are in a hallway or a fairly small room, consider changing the location of the appliances or increasing room space by removing/moving walls.

To prevent your loved one from having to bend over or reach over their heads, the laundry soap, fabric softener, iron, ironing board, dryer sheets and any other laundry chemical/tool should be close to the laundry appliances and within easy reach. Further, you should consider installing a wall-mounted ironing board, so it can easily be stored out of the way when it is not in use.

When it comes to choosing the right appliance, you have many options but we recommend opting for a front loading washer and dryer. This will reduce the need for your loved one to strain over lifting or pulling clothes out of the appliance. Several companies even make pedestals to place the appliances on to make them even easier to access. You will also want to be considerate of how the appliance is operated. Does it have buttons or use a knob? Using buttons and color-coded stickers will make it easier for loved ones with poor eyesight. If the appliance is operated with knobs, make sure they are big and can be twisted easily.

Considering there is water involved in the laundry process, make sure the flooring utilizes a non-slip surface, or better yet, SmartCells Fall Protections mats or flooring. SmartCells Fall Protection mats and flooring help prevent falls and serious injury without compromising accessibility.

The unique SmartCells dual-stiffness technology provides stability for balance impaired persons and care givers, while at the same time providing life-saving cushioning to protect our loved ones when they fall.

SmartCells Fall Protection mats combine effectiveness with style and quality, including features like a low profile height (1/2”) and molded-in beveled edges which reduce tripping hazards and allow most wheeled objects to roll over the mat, without needing to move it out of the way.

SmartCells Fall Protection mats are available in a variety of colors (Black, Light Brown, and Grey) and configurations ranging from pre-sized mats (3×5 and 24×68) to build-your-own mats to fit custom-sized areas.

SmartCells Fall Protection flooring provides a cushioned sub-floor under selected commercial floor coverings.

SmartCells Fall Protection mats and flooring are made of latex-free rubber that will not absorb liquids, which reduces the risk of contamination and infection and allows them to be easily cleaned. Independent testing, using widely accepted protocols (ATSM F355 – 10a) indicates that SmartCells cushioning technology is 2 – 4 times more effective at attenuating impact forces than other products that are nearly twice as thick.

SmartCells Fall Protection: We’ll be there when you can’t be.