Carpeting the home is a great way to make it welcoming and cosy for elderly people.
Common sense affirms that it’s much less likely that they will slip on a carpet compared to a smooth floor, particularly if there is any wet spillage.
A soft textured surface will always feel safer to an elderly person allowing them to maintain confidence and ease of movement. A smooth floor can cause an elderly person to be cautious and feel uncomfortable.
But it is important to get the carpet pile height and structure right for them; in some ways a long pile carpet can be just as hazardous as a smooth floor. Carpet that is too soft can cause a loss of balance and contribute to a fall.
Installing a carpet with too thick an underlay can provide too soft a feel underfoot leading to unsteadiness and a possible loss of balance.
It is generally accepted and advised that a dense, tightly tufted carpet with a firm, low profile pile will help to prevent trips. It is less likely that shoe soles, canes or walking frames will get caught in a short carpet pile.
The preferred style is a low level loop in a 1/10″ or 1/8″ gauge tuft.
At the same time, selecting a carpet that has a water resistant, rot-proof, gel type backing will go a long way towards easing maintenance and safety issues.
This type of carpet is also well suited to wheelchair use making it easier to operate with less resistance to the wheels. A better resistance to crushing and flattening means it is less likely to suffer from loss of original appearance.
When installing carpet for the elderly, it is recommended to completely adhere the carpet to the sub-floor with the appropriate adhesive. This will prevent the carpet from stretching, which would otherwise cause unsafe bubbles, ridges or rucks.
The other important issue is one of hygiene.
Nowadays synthetic pile carpets are considered the best for ease of cleaning and long term hygiene control. Polypropylene fibre is the least absorbent of all man made fibres, being stain resistant, fade resistant, bleach based cleaner resistant and scrubbable.
Taking care to select the right type of carpet for the elderly and infirm will ensure that there is less chance of a trip or fall so they continue to live in a safe and hygienic environment.