As we all get older, there are certain things that we wouldn’t usually worry about that start to become a problem. One of these things is flooring.
There are some flooring options for older people that are particularly good, and some that we should avoid as we’re getting older.
So whether you’re planning to change your flooring to help you in your old age or whether you’re researching for an elderly friend or relative, we’ll go through the options that are good and the ones you should definitely avoid.
Carpet has obvious benefits because it is soft and cushioned, meaning that it can help prevent harm from trips and falls. It also provides some insulation in rooms, keeping it warmer during winter.
Dust: Carpets hold a lot of dust and dirt which, when trodden on, will float in the air. This isn’t best for elderly people who may be more susceptible to respiratory problems.
Cleaning: Carpets are notoriously difficult to keep clean. Although they might look clean after a vacuum, dust and stains will inevitably get trapped in there. And if you trip or fall with something in your hands, it could stain which is difficult to clean when you’re not as strong as you used to be.
Vinyl is one of the easiest flooring options for older people to look after. You just need to sweep it regularly and give it a mop every now and again, and it’s almost completely waterproof. It’s ideal if you’re looking for a solution that you won’t have to worry about in your later years.
Vinyl can be quite hard underfoot, so it’s worth getting some padding laid underneath to soften it.
The environment: Vinyl has a big impact on the environment. It is made from petroleum, which releases toxins into the air. If you’re eco-minded, this might not be the best option for you.
Linoleum, or lino, is a good flooring option for older people as it is very easy to clean. If you’re worried about your physical ability to keep up with a large cleaning routine, then lino might be a good idea.
One thing to bear in mind is that linoleum is quite thin, so to make it safer you might consider putting some padding underneath.
Cost: Although lino shares lots of characteristics with vinyl, it is one of the more expensive flooring options for older people. It’s also worth factoring in the cost of a sealant to protect the flooring from water damage. If you’re relying on your pension, it might not be the best option to go for.
Rubber flooring is good for when you get older as it is slip resistant, fire resistant and soft. If you treat it with a water soluble wax, you’ll protect the rubber floor from stains and water damage. Again, it’s easy to clean as it will just need a sweep.
Cost: Rubber is one of the most expensive flooring options to install, which can make it difficult for older people living on a tight budget.
Odour: Although only slight, rubber flooring does have a smell that might be irritating for some people. This might be something you want to bear in mind.
Cork is one of the better flooring options for older people as it is very soft, so if you fall it should protect you more than other materials. It’s also very thick so will help to keep your room warmer.
Another benefit to cork is that it’s non-slip. That means that it should be more difficult to fall on it in the first place. Since we’re more likely to have falls as we get older, this is a great advantage.
All you’ll have to do to keep it clean is sweep the floor – cork is treated with a sealant so liquids can’t penetrate through.
Damage: Cork is very soft, so it can be punctured by furniture legs or even stiletto heels. You will need to seal it every year too, to make sure it doesn’t get stained or discoloured.
Flooring options older people should avoid
There are some flooring materials that aren’t ideal for older people:
- Ceramic – although it looks beautiful and is easy to clean, ceramic is very hard. If someone falls on it, it could do a lot of damage to an older person with weaker bones.
- Natural stone – not only is this very hard, it also needs a lot of maintenance to keep it clean.
- Brick – it’s easier to clean than natural stone, but is still very hard.
- Glass – again, glass is very hard and difficult to keep clean. If you drop something on it or fall hard, the glass could shatter and you’ll be at risk of cutting yourself.
There are plenty of flooring options for older people to choose from, and of course, every person is different. Make a decision about the flooring you should have for your twilight years based on your mobility and what kind of decor you like.