Designing for the Disabled with Arthritis On The Rise

37248616_sLike the rest of the world, the population in the United States is aging fast. That means more seniors will suffer from arthritis.

But arthritis is not a condition that’s just associated with the elderly. More than 50 million people from all age groups currently suffer from this condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that by 2030, more than 67 million people aged 18 years and older will be diagnosed with arthritis.

It’s necessary to design homes and products for these people in mind. Home design trends already indicate that there’s a strong interest in “accessible design” that can accommodate multiple generations of people living in the same household.

Accessible Design Elements

Not everyone has the luxury of custom-building a house for a family member who has arthritis. But some most of these ideas require a simple retrofitting.

1. Non-Slippery Floors

People with osteoarthritis in their knees are more prone to slipping and falling, leading to more serious injuries. Therefore, floors should be covered with slip-resistant materials like nonskid rugs. For people using walkers, low-pile carpeting prevents them from catching on deep pile and falling.

2. Safe Stairs

For arthritis patients, stairs or even a slight step can be dangerous and difficult. Although it’s ideal for them to stay on the lowest floor, that might not always be possible. For example, there might be no bedroom on the first floor of a 2-story townhouse. In this case, installing handrails on both sides are a must. If handrails are not enough consider installing a chair lift. Stairways should also have ample lighting to prevent falls.

3. No Doorknobs

Being able to open doors by turning doorknobs is something healthy people can take for granted. Arthritis makes it hard, even painful for people to turn a doorknob. A simple solution is installing a lever-style doorknob. There are many arthritis friendly door latches in the market. SOSS is a company that specializes in UltraLatch – a different kind of doorknob that doesn’t require turning or gripping.

4. Safe Baths

Many homes come with tubs. Tubs are great for relaxation but they’re not easy to get into and out of for people with arthritis. Step-in showers with low entry solve this problem. Grab bars in the showers and by the toilet can further help prevent falls.

5. Accessible Kitchen

Good kitchen design for people with arthritis includes cabinets that are the right height so they don’t have to reach up or bend down. Dishwasher can also be raised for people with back pain.

Designing for the disabled doesn’t have to be expensive or require a complete remodel of the house. With some creativity, many places in the house can be retrofitted to include all of the design elements above. These ideas will ensure that people with arthritis or other disabilities aren’t living in pain when performing their day-to-day tasks.