Making A Grandparent Friendly Home

A guide with grandpa and grandma’s stamp of approval

By CS Ming / 13 April 2022

grandEnjoy your flexible limbs while they last, because you’re going to say bye-bye to them when old age creeps in. Source: freepik

  • Substitute your doorknobs and faucets with pull levers
  • Grab bars in the bathroom are real lifesavers
  • Everything should be within arms reach
  • Illuminate the stairs

Don’t you find it interesting that we regress back into a state of childhood when we morph into grandparents? Our body stature shrinks and we become helpless, needing the care of the younger, fitter members of our family. Even though this is a sad thought, we must understand that the process is one that everybody must undergo.

With that in mind, it is our duty as filial children to ensure that our elderly parents enjoy their twilight years in comfort and peace. And what better way to achieve this than by creating a non-hazardous living environment for them. Easier said than done because a seemingly innocuous situation may present unseen dangers to them. 

For you and me, the bathroom might be a fun spot for shooting water and blowing bubbles. But to them, it could be the easiest place to get a broken bone. Living life as an elderly person sure is tough when everything in the environment is poised to hurt you. Being the young, vibrant millennial we are, our mission is here! Keep them alive for as long as possible. Now how do we do that, soldier?


Stop rotating, start pulling

Grand Pokok.AsiaEven an innocent doorknob wants a piece of you when you are old! Source: pinterest

The young and healthy, such as I (honestly, I don’t do very well in the fitness department), wouldn’t care much about the significance of a rotational doorknob. But the same cannot be said for older people with arthritis. Trust me when I say that the average grandma and grandpa are prone to this.

Circular movements may injure their wrists, as their joints are no longer flexible. The same applies to the faucets attached to the sink. Opt for the more inclusive lever-operated version that can be engaged by a simple pull. Suddenly, I feel a sense of pride just by successfully turning the tap at the sink. The joy of youthfulness!


Killer bathrooms from hell

Grand Pokok.AsiaDon’t underestimate the life-saving potential of an iron rod stuck to the wall. Source: truevalue

You will never see the bathroom the same way again, especially if you are 90. These slippery, water-filled chambers are notorious for causing injuries to our soft, lovable grandparents. Some grandparents can be downright annoying, but I will generalise here.

Back to the topic, the golden generation  is prone to lose balance as they age. Hence the presence of grab bars goes a long way towards ensuring their safety. Install them in the shower area and the toilet.

Next, pay attention to the floor. If a healthy adult could slip on the floor once in a while, now think about your elderly parents who are having trouble balancing themselves at the best of times. Minimise the risk by installing non-slip tiles on the floor. Looking for quality tiles? Check out some of the prestigious tile companies in Malaysia such as Feruni, White Horse and Guocera.

Either that or you can buy those plastic non-slip bathroom flooring and layer them on the bottom to greatly improve friction. You can get those easily from a convenience shop or even Lazada. Sometimes, purchasing a house also requires a little prior planning. You could always inquire with the developer in question if the living spaces have been universally designed.

Bathrooms that comply with such a standard are large enough to accommodate an individual with a wheelchair, allowing the person to turn a full 360 degrees. Besides, the entrance to the bathroom will have a ramp for easy entry and exit. That should accommodate my roller skates!


Within easy reach

Grand Pokok.AsiaThumb rule: can’t reach it? Scrap it! Source: healthline

Speaking of universal design, homes with two storeys usually have a spacious bedroom at the ground floor. This is so that your parents do not need to climb the treacherous stairs to reach their room.

Expanding on this concept, your cooking and baking ingredients should be kept at the bottom drawer, assuming, of course, that your grandparents do the cooking. Making them stand on a chair to reach for them is a big no,no! Gravity is a bitch when you’re old!


Light them up!

Unlike the bathroom, the stairs also have a reputation for causing injuries to the old folks. Age has a way of warping their vision, so you may want to offer them a helping hand by painting the treads of the stairs with contrasting colours. 

Black lines at the edge of a white tread should give them a clear perspective of where the steps begin and where it ends. To further enhance visibility, you can commission the installation of overhead lights to brighten up the area.


Don’t forget the hugs and kisses

Done with your note-taking? Well, it is time to turn our home into a sanctuary for our grandpa and grandma. But never forget that an ideal home must also be filled with love and happiness, so don’t hesitate to show your elderly folks how much you care for them. Be kind and thoughtful to your elders because one day, you will morph into one of them. Then again, be kind and thoughtful to your elders, because it is the right thing to do!


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