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Is your building arthritis-friendly?

Posted by Earl Laing | Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Is your building arthritis-friendly? Rheumatoid arthritis is an incredibly common condition that many of your residents likely live with. This disease stiffens and weakens muscles, making mundane, every-day tasks an every-day challenge for seniors that suffer from it. This invariably means that these folks are at a greater risk of falls or other injuries. Your senior living facility can help minimize these risks by designing a layout of your building that makes mobility less of a burden on joints and muscles. 

It sounds like a costly project, however modifications to your building don't have to be an expensive endeavor. 

Remove tripping hazards

As arthritis makes controlling muscles a challenge, it's important to get rid of objects that could trip residents up and cause a nasty fall. One of the first things you can do is remove area rugs. Rugs' edges can easily turn up or slip from under even the most agile people. But if you must have carpeting be sure to pick wall-to-wall coverage so no one can kick up a tripping or slipping hazard. 

Stairs are another challenging feat those with arthritis have trouble tackling. But there are a couple of solutions even if your building doesn't have an elevator. Electric chairs that transport passengers up and down stairs give seniors some freedom to move between levels of your building, both inside and out. If that's not possible, installing ramps with steady inclines is a huge relief on the joints. 

Don't forget to consider the little things like electronics or lamp cords. These should be tucked away or fastened to the floor so they can pop up and take someone down. 

Bathroom home improvements

As this is the most personal of spaces, you'll want to be sure the bathrooms in your assisted living space are easy to maneuver solo. You can do this by positioning grab-bars around spaces where seniors might need to steady themselves, like next to the toilet or shower. As knees tend to be a particular spot of soreness for those with arthritis, you can install a toilet seat that raises the seat up at least six inches to reduce bending. On the same note, put in a walk-in shower or bathtub to prevent tripping over tub walls. Then line the shower bottom with no-slip grips, a bench and an adjustable shower head so they can bathe in comfort. 

Clean out clutter

Spring cleaning is a good excuse to get rid of some of that junk your residents have been holding on to for so long. While you probably won't be able to get rid of everything, help seniors toss objects that aren't useful or sentimental. Then help seniors arrange the objects they use most frequently in easy-to-reach spaces so they don't have to go through any trouble getting them. In this process your building can also install easy-access storage and hinges and knobs that have been specifically designed for those with arthritis. 

General space

When you're designing the interior of your building, consider how easy it'll be for seniors to get around, especially in the bedroom. How is the furniture positioned? Make sure there's enough space in between furniture so seniors don't have to squeeze, or so there's enough room to enable the use of a walking aid. An ideal set-up will arrange the room's furniture in a way that will reduce the amount of distance it takes to walk places like the bed to the bathroom, it'll be a big help!