Improve Your Living Space
Photo by Ramona Rosales
Creating a safe, easy home boosts quality of life when you’re living with PD. Designers who specialize in crafting environments for people with health challenges can offer helpful tips. Barbara Bouza, managing director of Gensler design firm’s Los Angeles office and leader of its Health & Wellness and Life Sciences Practice Areas, answers key questions.
Q. What are top considerations for the home?
A. Priorities should be around safety, open space, natural light and furniture placement to maximize accessibility and minimize hazards. Remove obstacles and clutter, and add alcoves and storage areas. Look for low-profile furniture and pieces with locking wheels so you can move and stabilize them easily.
Q. How can the right lighting help?
A. People with Parkinson’s can have visual issues, so using both natural daylight and light fixtures can improve safety and mood. Locate light switches for easy access.
Streamline window coverings and clear clutter to let in natural light. Consider circadian lighting, which uses a spectrum of light to mimic biological light-dark cycles. Solar tubes can lighten interiors like hallways, closets and bathrooms.
Q. What safety features can people add?
A. Reduce tripping hazards by leveling transition areas (from carpet to wood floors) with materials of similar height and dimensions. Secure area rugs with nonslip backings. Vinyl, tile and low-pile carpet provide good traction. Manage cords and cables by bundling them (organizing stores offer options).
Q. What about design for the bathroom?
A. Look for space-saving fixtures. Consider possible challenges, such as the step into a tub. Showers with a low curb may be easier to handle, and some tubs have a door for easier access. Increase appeal of assistive fixtures like grab bars by picking complementary colors. Vinyl flooring can be installed with curved edges that flow up the wall a bit, eliminating those cracks that are hard to clean.
Q. What about the kitchen?
A. Create an island lower than standard counter height so you can sit to prep food. Pull-out organizers make it easier to reach needed items, and consider easy-to-grasp cabinet door hardware.
Originally printed in MoreThanMotion, Spring 2015.