Special flooring is advisable for the elderly for a number of good reasons. First, seniors are prone to stumbling and falling, so they need floors that reduce slipping to help prevent these accidents.
The elderly can also have problem backs, knees and hips that will benefit from flooring that reduces impact to the skeletal system when walking. Older people can also have incontinence problems, so the flooring should be easy to clean in order to maintain healthy hygienic conditions in the home.
Flooring to help prevent falls
Elderly people can suffer from problems with balance and depth perception. Weak knees, back and hips can often lead to some very serious falls. In addition, seniors can suffer from stroke and other sudden attacks that can lead to falls.
Falls that result in serious injuries to the hips and back can have devastating consequences. In some cases, the person never fully recovers and there is a high mortality rate for such individuals in the years following such accidents due to complications from the injury.
For this reason, it is a great idea to install special flooring for your elderly parents, relatives or clients. One possibility is to use non-slip tiles specially designed to provide an extra degree of traction. Modular rubber flooring is another great option. You do not have to remove your current floor with some of the rubber flooring options.
These rubber floors come in modular tile form that you attach together and simply lay over your current floor. Rubber provides an excellent non-slip surface, and it also helps cushion impact to the body while walking. You can choose rubber flooring of extra thickness for elderly people who have particularly painful conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis, or for those recovering from hip or knee surgery. Thick rubber can also help reduce the severity of an injury in case of a fall.
Many people already use rubber mats in the shower or bath to prevent slipping on the wet surface. Rubber and other types of non-slip tiles can fit together seamlessly, which is an important safety feature. Seniors often slide or shuffle their feet as they walk, so you want as smooth a surface as possible to prevent tripping.
Benefits of a soft floor
For elderly people who fall frequently, a hardwood or ceramic tile floor offers no cushioning. Even if the older person is able to break their fall, they can still suffer hand and wrist injuries.
Rubber flooring provides a softer landing, and you can add additional padding under the floor tiles for extra cushioning. Seniors often have porous bones that can break with just minor impact so every bit of protection can mean the difference between a serious and minor injury.
Do not think of the rubber mats you have in your showers when visualizing rubber floor tiles. They come in varieties that look similar to regular carpeted, hardwood or ceramic tile floors.
In addition to providing protection from hard impacts during falls, soft floors are also great for seniors who suffer from sore joints and similar ailments. You can select padding of various thicknesses depending on the severity of the condition. The soft surface helps ease pain caused by simply walking down the hallway, especially during periods of cold weather when rheumatism can be at its worst.
Modular floors are easy to clean
Older people have trouble with incontinence and this can lead to messy accidents. To help ease the process of cleaning and maintenance, modular tile floors are simple to install and remove.
You can easily detach any number of the tiles to wash and dry separately. Once cleaned, they are just as easy to reinstall. By removing the tiles, you can also thoroughly clean the surface below to ensure that no growth of bacteria, mold or mildew occurs.
Modular carpet, vinyl and rubber tile are relatively easy to clean and dry. For urine stains in fabric, you can apply vinegar before soap and water to breakdown the odor-causing urea. Some floors have stable color fabrics so that you can wash them using bleach to completely remove all stains and odors.
Bleach and vinegar are also excellent in destroying unhealthy microbes that can grow on both soft and hard surfaces.
Low or no VOC flooring
Many people may not have heard of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, studies show that these compounds can lead to a number of health conditions from asthma to headaches and pneumonia. Some VOCs may even cause cancer.
According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), VOC levels in the home can be substantially higher that they are in the outdoor environment.
Since elderly people already have enough to deal with in terms of health issues, lowering the VOC concentration in the home can be of great benefit to them. In particular, you want to avoid the more harmful VOCs like formaldehyde, which can have immediate effects on the health.
Flooring materials can differ significantly n the amount of VOCs, if any, that they contain:
- Bamboo – One of the best choices for attractive wood flooring, adhesives used to connect bamboo panels and tiles can contain VOCs. In order to ensure that there are low or no VOCs, you should only use bamboo or other materials that meet the E1 standard.
- Carpet – Many carpet types contain VOCs, so you will need to be careful in choosing the right product. Again, you can check for the E1 standard to be on the safe side. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) issues a Green Label for carpets with low or no VOC content.
- Cork – Cork uses toxic binders during manufacturing, but these are mostly removed during processing. Choose cork and cork adhesives displaying the E1 standard on the label to ensure low VOCs.
- Hardwood – The finish and adhesives used for hardwood flooring can contain VOCs. You can check for the E1 standard or ask the retailer or manufacturer for information on VOC content.
- Vinyl and linoleum – All-natural linoleum can smell strongly after installation due to the presence of linseed oil. However, it has low VOC content. Similar-looking vinyl, on the other hand, is another matter. The synthetic plastics used in vinyl manufacturing can emit harmful chemicals for years after installation. You must be very careful when selecting vinyl to ensure that it is safe for the elderly.
Choosing appropriate flooring for seniors will help prevent falls and lead to overall improved health and well-being. Soft floors will provide cushioning when even walking can be difficult. Additionally, modular floors are easy to clean and many are bleach-safe so that you can deal with the toughest stains and odors.