Embracing the golden years at home, your senior parent or loved one is on a mission to redefine their living space. The challenge on the table? Revamping the floors with slip and skid-resistant options to champion safety and thwart those pesky falls.
As we delve into this quest together, let’s find the perfect mix of comfort, practicality, and style to fortify their haven, inviting you to keep reading and become an expert yourself.
What is the best senior flooring choice for aging in place?
The best aging in place flooring is slip-resistant, soft, and provides traction. Some of the safest options include rubber, cork, and vinyl flooring. These materials are easy to maintain and hold up well to wear and tear. They also provide some cushioning in the event of a fall, which can help to prevent injuries. When choosing flooring for an aging adult, it is important to consider their individual needs and preferences. Some factors to consider include mobility, arthritis, and allergies.
In today’s guide, we’ll further assess a variety of accessible flooring for seniors who are aging in place and discuss which flooring is a good choice for power wheelchairs and elderly individuals with arthritis.
There’s a lot of great information ahead, so keep reading!
What Is The Safest Flooring For Seniors?
There are several different materials to consider when it comes to finding the safest flooring for seniors.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the top contenders:
A very safe flooring for seniors is rubber flooring. Rubber has a high friction coefficient and is slip-resistant, so it is perfect for use in areas where falls are likely to occur.
I personally believe that rubber flooring is the most comfortable flooring for seniors who are aging in place. It provides a great deal of traction and cushion, which can prevent falls and reduce the impact of any potential accident.
Another important consideration is that rubber maintains its warmth, so the bathroom flooring almost never feels ice cold. The elderly feel the cold differently than younger people, and it can be quite a shock, so the fewer cold surfaces in a senior’s home, the better.
Rubber flooring is a wonderful option for seniors because it is slip-resistant even when it is wet, making it the safest choice. Another great benefit is its absorbency. If someone were to fall on rubber flooring, it would most likely be less painful than hard surfaces. The cushioning and installation that rubber flooring offers also make it a warmer surface, which helps keep seniors more comfortable.
Rubber also absorbs more physical impacts than other types of flooring, especially hard surface floors – for example ceramic tile. It’s also incredibly slip resistant, including when wet. Your senior parent or loved one will feel steadier on their feet.
Keeping up with rubber floors won’t pose much of a challenge either. If you’re undertaking the caretaking responsibilities as an adult child, you’ll appreciate how easily rubber cleans up.
Although rubber flooring might sound unappealing from the onset, the color and style variety offered today makes rubber stylish and functional. It’s the best of both worlds for older homeowners.
If not rubber flooring, we’d strongly urge elderly adults to consider cork flooring for their home if they’re aging in place.
Like rubber, cork provides some cushioning from the impact of a fall. It may even feel softer than rubber or comparably soft.
Cork is also a great choice because of it’s excellent slip resistance and great traction.
To extend the cork’s lifespan, this wood flooring type is often treated with sealants. The sealants make it easy to clean the cork floor, which is another great benefit.
One thing to be aware of is that cork will wear down sooner than later, especially if exposed to moisture, such as on bathroom floors. The small cracks in the cork can widen, and the material will easily dent and fade.
Cork, while feeling solid underfoot, still offers a level of comfort and shock absorption. It can be susceptible to water damage, so care should be taken when used in locations in the home where water is often present, such as kitchens and bathrooms.
That’s why, while we recommend cork for aging in place, we say rubber is the best option.
Yet another flooring option for seniors aging in place is luxury vinyl plank throughout. Luxury vinyl planks and vinyl tiles are fairly warm underfoot and have slightly uneven surfaces that can match the appearance and feel of wood grain.
Vinyl has slip-resistant properties, and it’s waterproof, making it a great option in a potentially wet area, such as the laundry room.
If you have spills, a vinyl floor is stain resistant, so it typically won’t bear the brunt of it with permanent stains. Of course, you or the caregiver should always clean up wet areas immediately, due to the risk of falls.
Cleaning up vinyl in other circumstances will be a quick part of your day!
Now, onto the downsides of vinyl. While it can look nice, the material isn’t very soft. A senior will have no cushioning if they fall, which could mean a fall has a higher risk of injury.
What Flooring Is Best For Arthritis?
Your senior parent or loved one has severe arthritis. Somedays, the condition practically debilitates them.
Now that you’re replacing their flooring, you want an option for bamboo flooring that’s suitable for elderly with arthritis. What kind of flooring should you choose?
Let’s go over your options.
You’re right to have reservations about carpet flooring, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. Area rugs can easily get caught under one’s feet, becoming a tripping hazard. Short pile wall-to-wall carpeting is safer.
Avoid heavy types of carpet or long-pile options. The fibers could cause trips and falls and they harbor dust, pollen, dead skin, and other breathing hazards that can make a senior’s asthma or allergies worse.
If your senior does struggle to breathe because of the aforementioned conditions, you should look into hypoallergenic carpeting, which will filter more contaminants in the air.
We already talked about how rubber has a certain degree of plushness to it. It’s not softer than carpeting, of course, but it’s a great secondary option for a senior with arthritis.
You might be surprised to see vinyl on this list, but it’s indeed a viable option! That said, it does require a padded material underneath such as cork or felt underlayment. This will soften the vinyl considerably.
Although it’s the least durable of the options on this list, don’t rule out cork altogether for the elderly with arthritis. The soft sponginess and springiness of the material make long periods of standing possible.
Is Laminate Flooring Good For The Elderly?
One type of flooring we haven’t discussed is laminate. Is this a good option for the elderly?
Possibly, but it depends.
Laminate, like vinyl, cleans up easily, making it an appealing option. However, just like vinyl, laminate offers little traction and little to no soft landing place if a senior falls.
While it’s beneficial that laminate’s smoothness won’t interrupt wheelchairs or prohibit walkers, you’re better off with rubber, vinyl, or cork than laminate.
Besides being softer on a senior’s body, those other flooring options won’t cost as much money either!
The Best Flooring For Mobility Issues
Speaking of wheelchairs and walkers, let’s take a closer look at which two flooring types you should select if your senior parent or loved one has mobility issues.
That’s right, rubber once again makes for a viable option if your senior uses a wheelchair or walker. Its slip resistance matters even more when a senior needs a walker to get around, and the impact absorption rate will help them if they fall.
Power wheelchairs can be hard on floors, so you need a durable flooring material for your senior’s home. Engineered hardwood fits the bill.
This hardwood style includes authentic veneering to increase durability even if a wheelchair rolls over the wood day in and day out. The veneer doesn’t detract from the texture of real wood, which feels like a natural wood grain.
Besides adding to the appeal of engineered hardwood, the wood grain improves the slip resistance and traction of this style of flooring.
Of course, it’s still more detrimental to fall on hardwood than rubber, but a senior will feel steadier on engineered, hardwood floors.
Wood receives a Janka rating to determine its hardness. Choose wood with a high Janka rating like maple, hickory, or oak to ensure the hardwood’s durability and longevity.
Sheet vinyl, wood plastic composite or WPC, and stone plastic composite or SPC vinyl make the best choices for mobile-impaired seniors. These types of vinyl are level and sturdy, as are other kinds of commercial-grade vinyl.
Not all commercial-grade vinyl shares the same level of thickness, so do your homework and ensure the vinyl has enough layers for a wheelchair. The thinner the vinyl, the faster it will wear.
Thick vinyl has great traction, and you can choose from so many patterns and colors that the luxury vinyl flooring really can mimic tile and wood without the hefty price tags.
These days, luxury vinyl can be a great durable flooring for seniors. If you provide a cushioned underlayment, it will also have an extra layer of comfort and plushness.
In general, we would recommend that you avoid tile in a senior’s home, however, tile is a good option for someone who uses a wheelchair. Porcelain and ceramic are the most wheelchair-friendly types of tile since they’re durable and heavy.
You may select other types of tile, but make sure you’re focusing on the texturing of the tile. This lends the flooring greater slip resistance, especially stone and wood grain textures.
The smaller the tiles, the better. The reason? Smaller tiles use more grout lines. Those lines improve a wheelchair’s grip.
That doesn’t make wider grout lines preferable, especially if those lines are also deep. Then the tiles create a bumpy surface that makes using a wheelchair difficult. You can always level the grout lines to improve the smoothness of the surface.
Tile cleans easily and doesn’t take a lot of time to maintain. For the price, tiles shouldn’t scuff, dent, or show other signs of wear with time.
Keep in mind that, like vinyl, laminate, and other hard materials, tile has no absorption qualities, so falls will be much harder if you choose this type of flooring.
Hardwood flooring is a classic favorite for seniors. It’s timeless and elegant in style, offering a variety of colors and stain options to choose from. Additionally, older people can enjoy the comfort of it being softer than other materials (while still being firm enough to feel stable).
However, hardwood floors are less durable than other options and can be hard to maintain. Hardwood floors will need to be regularly refinished or resealed as they age, which makes it a less desirable choice for elderly adults.
Which Is The Healthiest Flooring For Homes?
Most people don’t realize it, but the flooring in your home can have a major impact on your health. so when choosing new flooring, for your home, you want to pick something that is healthy and safe.
Hardwood and cork flooring are the healthiest types of flooring due to their natural air purifying properties. These materials are naturally hypoallergenic, trapping allergens and dust within their fibers to keep them out of the home’s atmosphere.
Bamboo also has excellent properties such as being highly resistant to moisture damage as well as being an eco-friendly choice.
Part of the problem with carpet is that it can hold onto airborne contaminants like VOCs (volatile organic compounds) for longer than hardwood or cork, meaning that hardwood and cork have a clear advantage in keeping indoor air quality high.
Furthermore, these materials tend to be easier to clean than carpets because most messes on hardwood and cork floors can simply be wiped away without needing any deep cleaning products.
Which Flooring Should Seniors Avoid?
As we’ve mentioned before, some seniors have mobility concerns and use wheelchairs or walkers to move about. Others may have medical concerns that limit their ability to lift their feet when walking (ie: Parkinson’s. arthritis, etc).
For safety, it’s best if seniors avoid:
- Area rugs as they can bunch up or slip around, creating a fall risk. Walkers can catch on the edges, causing a trip hazard, as well. If you must use an area rug, get a vinyl rug (they are very thin) and tape down the edges with carpet tape.
- Natural stone flooring and ceramic and porcelain tile should also be avoided they are a very hard material, slippery nature when wet and coldness under bare feet. Natural stone also requires regular maintenance, making it unforgiving for seniors.
- Wide grout joints or uneven tiles, because they create an additional risk of tripping for seniors.
- Aging In Place Contractor also recommends avoiding concrete, saying, “Even though concrete is durable and easy to maintain, and the textured surface can reduce the risk of slips and falls, it’s a very hard surface to land on in the case of a fall. It can also be very cold, making it uncomfortable to stand on for more than a couple of minutes.”
Your senior has decided to age in place at home, and now you need safe flooring that suits their less mobile lifestyle. Rubber remains the top option for its impact absorption, softness, skid resistance, and slip resistance.
Vinyl, cork, engineered wood, and even carpet are other good choices, although some options are considerably less wheelchair-friendly than others.
We hope this guide helps you choose a safe, efficient flooring material for your senior’s home!