By Anna Hazard
Besides the bed, care should be taken that the other furniture and equipment within the bedroom remains safe and easily accessible to those who may have limited mobility as well as various strength or other health conditions. In addition to larger pieces of furniture there are also an assortment of smaller accessories as well as electronics that can be added to the room to make it more aging in place friendly.
While many of these items would fall under the blanket description of ableware that has been specifically tailored for seniors or the disabled, there's also a plethora of commonly available & more general use gadgets that would also be beneficial to include.
The other furniture found within the bedroom should all be sturdy and stable without the potential for tipping over or skidding if someone should be leaning, bracing themselves for support, or otherwise holding unto them for balance. In particular, all furniture should have non-skid material underneath them to hamper any potential movement and tall furnishings such as bookshelves and wardrobes should be anchored to the walls behind them. In addition, all furniture should preferably have rounded edges to pose less of an injury risk if someone should inadvertently fall against them.
It's beneficial to have a nightstand or bedside table directly next to the bed that remains within easy reach while lying upon the mattress. This would be used for storing common daily essentials such as medication, remotes, night time drinks, and eyeglasses. This table or stand should optimally be at around the same height as the top of the mattress so that the user would not need to reach up or down in order to pick something up from its surface.
Another helpful addition to the aging in place bedroom would be a sturdy chair with supportive arms that is situated near the bed. This would be helpful when it comes to dressing especially if the surface of the bed may normally be blocked by rails or if a senior can not stand for extended periods and thus needs to be sitting in order to perform their daily preparations.
Like other chairs within the household, the seat height should be around 17" - 19" from the floor and have an open space directly beneath where the user's legs can be braced for standing in order to aid in rising more easily. In addition, the depth of the seat should be around 20" with a slope no greater than 1" from the front to the back. The seat cushioning should be firm enough to prevent sinking into the material and the chair arms should be strong enough to support the user's weight in case they're being used as a crutch to assist in standing.
When it comes to accessibility and safety for aging in place technology in the bedroom, one of the main focuses should be on keeping all electronics & medical equipment properly secured. In particular, special attention should be paid to the placement of cords and cables which should be tucked away along the wall or near their outlets so as not to pose a tripping hazard.
Electrical outlets should optimally be installed near where appliances and electronics are expected to be placed so that their cords are not running for long distances along the walls or floors. These outlets should be high enough for easy access without having to stoop over which would be a minimum of 15" high from the floor surface, although many people find 20" high a more comfortable height to reach.
The bedroom inhabitant should have easy access to electronic devices from their bed such as a television, computer, or tablet for entertainment. This is especially necessary for those with health conditions that may cause extended periods of time spent lying down. Wifi access can be particularly helpful in this area for smart homes, for those users with limited mobility, or for those who may simply wish to use the internet from the comfort of the bed rather than a chair.
Remotes and charging stations (such as those required by phones, tablets, and other handheld devices) should be kept on a nearby stand or table that is within easy reach of the bed. In general, it would be beneficial for these items to have more simplified designs with large easy-to-read buttons and without an overabundance of confusing additional features. If a television has been installed within the room, then it should be securely fastened directly to the wall behind it for safety's sake in case someone should fall against it.
Another necessity within the bedroom includes having a phone that is easily accessible from the bed. While mobile phones are convenient, it's recommended that a corded land line phone be available for emergencies during potential power outages or whenever the cell phone's battery might inadvertently be allowed to go dead.
There are many styles & brands of landline phones that are particularly senior friendly, including those with large and easy to read buttons (or that sub in pictures of family & friends for direct dialing for those with memory issues), audio boosted or close captioned phones for those with hearing problems, one touch phones for those with arthritis, as well as other easy to handle phones with pre-programmed numbers suitable for those with Alzheimer's or dementia
Other accessories and items that would be helpful for accessibility and aging in place would include digital clocks with large displays that include easy to read dates and times. This clock should be easy to see and read especially from the bed. Another potentially helpful item in the bedroom includes a white noise generator that can be helpful for sleeping (especially with people tending to have more difficulty going and remaining asleep as they age).
A variety of dressing aids may also become necessary for those who may have hand dexterity, strength, or mobility issues. This would include button fasteners, zipper pulls, long range shoe horns, sock & stocking helpers, and dressing hooks which should be kept in an easily accessible location for daily use.
Safety items that should be maintained within the bed room includesmoke and carbon monoxide detectors that have both audible and visual activation cues for those who may have problems with their sight or hearing. These should be placed in an easily accessible location and should use extended length batteries (many of which are tailored specifically for use in such detectors and which can last up to 10+ years) for easy maintenance. In addition, a small handheld flashlight should always be on the nearby bedside table within easy reach from the bed itself in case of emergencies or power outages.
Another helpful bedroom option for those rooms not on the main floor would include having a laundry chute or dumbwaiter installed between the main bedroom and the laundry room below. This would help avoid having to carry large loads of laundry down the stairs or elevator (or having to carry the washed clothes back up again in the cause of the dumbwaiter) which could otherwise cause potential injury through strains or through potentially tripping & falling.
View the Rest of the Series
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Exterior
Part 3 - Landscaping & Gardens
Part 4 - Patio, Porch, & Deck
Part 5 - Garage & Carports
Part 6 - Entrances, Exits, & Thresholds
Part 7 - Exterior Steps & Ramps
Part 8 - Threshold Lighting & Windows
Part 9 - Interior Doors & Halls
Part 10 - Interior Steps & Staircases
Part 11 - Interior Stairlifts
Part 12 - Interior Elevators
Part 13 - Interior Lighting
Part 14 - General Interior Flooring
Part 15 - Interior Flooring Comparisons
Part 16 - HVAC & Energy Efficiency
Part 17 - Power, Communications, & Other Interior Systems
Part 18 - Living Room
Part 19 - Kitchen Layout, HVAC, & Electrical Systems
Part 20 - Kitchen Lighting, Flooring, and Sink Faucets
Part 21 - Kitchen Countertops & Cabinets
Part 22 - Kitchen Refrigerators, Freezers, and Dishwashers
Part 23 - Kitchen Ovens, Ranges, Stovetops, and Cooktops
Part 24 - Kitchen Microwaves, Blenders, & Food Processors
Part 25 - Miscellaneous Kitchen Items
Part 26 - Dining Room Layout, Tables, & Other Furniture
Part 27 - Dining Room Flooring, Lighting, & Meal Serving Equipment
Part 28 - Bedroom Layout & Closets
Part 29 - Accessible Beds
Part 30 - Bedroom Furniture, Electronics, & Other Accessories
Part 31 - Bedroom Flooring
Part 32 - Bedroom Lighting
Part 33 - Bathroom General Layout
Part 34 - Bathroom General Tips for Showers & Tubs
Part 35 - Bathroom Accessible Tubs
Part 36 - Bathroom Accessible Showers
Part 37 - Bathroom Accessible Toilets
Part 38 - Bathroom Sinks & Vanities
Part 39 - Bathroom Cabinets & Shelving
Part 40 - Bathroom Grab Bars
Part 41 - Bathroom Flooring
Part 42 - Laundry Room