Guest Post - How to Properly Organize a Living Space for Older Adults with Special Needs


A space where people dwell can be so simple. All you need is a few well-functioning elements – a chair, a table, bed, stove, shower, sink and a toilet – and one can easily survive if need be. However, survival is not what life's about. A living space that one considers home is a whole other matter. For an elderly person that has experienced a life-changing disability, this is a matter that can determine whether they will be depressed or content, so the design of such a place needs to be taken seriously. With that in mind, here's how to properly organize a living space for older adults with special needs.

A matter of decluttering

A cluttered space is a hazard for disabled elders. You should determine where the senior prefers to spend most of their time and see to it that there are enough drawers and cabinets around to keep the minutia properly stored. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the disabled person – they need to be able to move through the room with the help of a wheelchair or a walker. This means that the arrangement should be economic in such a way to leave enough room between the pieces of furniture for readjustment. De-cluttering simply lowers the risk of injury.

Furniture – less is more

While we are on the topic of injury, stuffing the living space with an arrangement of smaller furniture is begging for a visit to the doctor’s office. Instead, fill up the space with fewer furniture elements and keep them large. Of course, you should ensure that the furniture which is placed in the room does not have any jagged edges.

Natural light makes all the difference

Living room

Due to biological senescence, most elderly adults tend to “retire” into their shadowy dwellings and settle with solitary existence. Suffice to say, this impacts their mood immensely, especially if they are not exposed to enough natural light. Getting enough vitamin D is particularly important for disabled seniors and well-lit rooms can look vibrant without excessive over-design.

If you are looking for inspiration, you should check out Mark Moran Vaucluse aged care facilities, which offer some stellar examples of thoughtfully organized living spaces for seniors – such as layouts that are designed to capture maximum natural light and quaint vistas. Remember – the abundance of natural light is the cornerstone of a well-designed and well-organized living space. In fact, it is a “hack” that does a lot of beautifying for you.

A space for guests?

If an elderly disabled person is in good spirits, they’ll almost certainly yearn to cultivate their social life. It is therefore perfectly reasonable to ask yourself: Should the disabled senior have means to entertain in their own living space? If they live in a community or a communal establishment, it is much easier to answer this question – they can simply rely on several reception areas. However, if it’s a smaller, more tightly arranged living space, like a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago for example, – in a private environment or a smaller aged care facility, the answer should still be no. Day-to-day safety takes a priority.

Storage solutions

A well-organized, large storage space that covers an entire wall in a living space is something that can pretty much solve all the issues. Storage solutions can be divided into several areas based on their function. For example, eight smaller drawers can be reserved for keepsakes and paraphernalia. It is simply smarter to remove them off usable surfaces.

The following eight to twelve drawers can be reserved for books that are of particular interest to the elderly. At least several drawers should always be kept empty, just in case something needs to be stored away quickly. Another upside of this is that the dust doesn’t need to be swiped regularly off stored items, and cleaning other surfaces around the room becomes much brisker.

In the end, it does not really matter if the disabled elder lives at home or in a commercial building. The only thing that is truly important is whether their needs are met and if they feel comfortable enough in the organized surrounding. While modified elements that may assist the disabled person in moving around the place are obligatory, one should do their best to design and arrange the dwelling in such a way that it doesn’t look like a spruced-up medical facility. A few heartfelt details here and there can make all the difference in the world.

Lillian Connors can’t resist the urge to embark on a myriad of green living/home improvement projects and spread the word about them. She cherishes the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on. You can check her out on Twitter.