Doing the laundry is a chore that never goes away. For seniors wishing to age in place, it’s important to make accommodations to ensure that doing the laundry remains comfortable and safe. Here are a few things to consider:
Seniors must be able to access the laundry room safely. Here are some basic guidelines to follow:
- Avoid stairs. Stairs are always tricky for seniors, but they’re especially hazardous for seniors carrying loads of laundry. When stairs cannot be avoided – even a few stairs going down into a garage – stairlifts can be the solution. Users can find stairlifts for sale that will allow them to move between floors safely, even when transporting laundry. Elevators are also a good option.
- Minimize travel. Try to locate the laundry room in a space nearest to the bedrooms where most of the laundry is generated. This will minimize how far dirty and clean laundry needs to be carried.
- Remove obstacles. Ensure there’s a clear path to the laundry area to minimize the risk of trips and falls. If the laundry area is in the garage or other similar space where obstacles tend to emerge, be disciplined about keeping obstructions at bay.
Top loading machines can be hard for seniors to use because it’s difficult to lift laundry and reach down into the machine to retrieve the laundry. But front-load machines can also be difficult because bending over can strain backs and throw them off balance. One good solution is front-load machines that sit on pedestals. This puts the laundry in a reachable position and allows easy access to controls. You might also consider machines that offer only the basics to make them simpler to operate.
Take some time to plan the laundry room carefully. Ensure the washer and dryer don’t block the entrance and space for the hamper. Locate storage areas where they can safely be reached. Place essential items readily at hand to minimize reaching or climbing. Install outlets that are convenient for steaming and ironing and be generous with the lighting. Avoid using mats or rugs as these create a tripping hazard.
Sturdy, roomy counters give users a place to fold laundry and store essentials, both of which can make laundry safer and more comfortable.
Give some extra thought to the sink. A sink in the laundry room is convenient. Treating stains, handwashing, and other tasks are so much easier with a laundry room sink. Install a faucet with levers rather than knobs so it’s comfortable turning on and off. If you have the option, install the sink mounted on the wall or with open space underneath so it can be accessed by someone using a mobility device like a walker or wheelchair.
Living independently well into our senior years requires planning. Don’t neglect the laundry room.
Doing the laundry is a chore that never goes away. For seniors wishing to age in place, it’s important to make accommodations to ensure that doing the laundry remains comfortable and safe. Here are a few things to consider.