According to the Polish Central Statistical Office, in 2050 over 40% of Poles will be over 60 years old. The 50+ generation is a growing social group worldwide. This megatrend is described as the silver tsunami. The consequences of demographic change affect all areas of the economy, including those related to architecture and interior design.
In response to the above statistics, public and private programmes are being launched under which housing estates and care homes are being built. Their form and functions are adapted to the needs of the eldest social group. The same is true of interior arrangement. What aspects should be taken into account when deciding upon such design?
A sense of security at home is important for everyone. In the case of the elderly, this involves functional solutions that facilitate everyday life especially when considering disabilities and restriction of movement. The rooms should be spacious with passageways sufficiently wide without sharp bends in the corridors. It is also important to have free access to cabinets and storage space which will not require using a chair or ladder. It is also important to have adequate lighting, for example, motion detector lamps built into skirting boards so that seniors can move around freely at night. The best solution will be intelligent systems that can be activated at any time throughout the house with a single click. Functionality in the bathroom is particularly important with a floor covered with a non-slip surface and shower enclosure with a fixed seat as a safer alternative to a traditional bath tub.
Finishing materials and colours should be chosen in such a way that they have a positive effect on one’s mood. The more natural and durable they are, the better they perform their role. Subdued pale colours are stimulating with green accents providing a calming effect. The trend of biophilic design is as important for senior citizens as it is for offices. Greenery helps to purify the air and has a therapeutic effect. Green zones in homes of senior citizens are designed in such a way that they are easy to care for. Furniture with additional functions also contributes to comfort and well-being, for example, adjustable beds or armchairs with side pockets for keeping small regularly used items to hand such as spectacles, phones or remote controls.
Many elderly people struggle with loneliness. As they grow older, they find it increasingly difficult to move around therefore reducing contact with others. To provide opportunities for seniors to meet and socialise, it is important to incorporate space within the design of the home to allow interaction with their neighbours. Such considerations are already being provided within the design of cottages and flats for seniors. Such measures include roofed gardens or terraces with comfortable seating and tables in addition to home automation solutions to make everyday living that much easier.
Both modern technologies and traditional, classic arrangement solutions are conducive to designing spaces in which seniors will feel comfortable, safe and secure without involving higher costs. On the contrary, design for seniors can successfully implement ideas of sustainable development.