So, it is no surprise that many of the product advances, new technology, and innovation that we see all around us is available to help us deliver effective aging in place solutions in the form of newly available or upgraded universal design features.
There have been many areas of home decor, features, components, and design that have experienced and undergone major changes in the past few years – appliances, hardware, fixture, windows, counters, lighting, and flooring, for example – and especially flooring.
For many years, carpeting was one of the major flooring choices. When it first became popular about a half-century ago, no real estate ad for new or existing homes would fail to mention wall-to-wall carpeting as a major included feature. Of course, hardwood and ceramic tile have been popular as well. Now there are several other choices of products, materials, colors, and finishes. Most of the newer flooring choices are of the hard surface variety.
For those who don’t care for carpeting or would like a harder surface, there are many available alternatives – in varying degrees of hardness, shapes, price points, and sheen. Ceramic tile is quite popular has transitioned from just being available in mostly square sizes to rectangular, geometric shapes, and planks. In addition to looking like traditional ceramic floor tile, they also have the appearance of hardwood, stone, and travertine. Porcelain tile is a close relative of ceramic. This provides a durable, hard surface floor that can be maintained relatively easily. The chief concern is how slippery the surface might be, and there are many styles available to accommodate individual needs and desires.
Vinyl tile has made a huge comeback. In addition to the square shapes, it’s also available as planks and in sheets. The old-style linoleum that was a standard for many years in the mid-1900s has made a large resurgence. It is more durable and has a cushion back to provide more comfort when walking or standing on it. It is useful for covering larger areas such as a kitchen or playroom. Many vinyl tile planks have the look of wood that is practically indistinguishable in appearance. As with the linoleum, many tile and planking styles have a cushion backing to offer a softer feel when walking or standing on them.
Travertine, brick, terra cotta, stone, marble, slate, cork, bamboo, laminates, concrete (stained, polished, or stamped), and engineered wood are some of other available flooring choices (in many colors, shapes, and finishes) that can be used throughout the home, with some being more appropriate for certain areas than others.
There is no shortage of materials, price points, sizes, finishes, colors, or styles available to provide serviceable, sustainable, hard surface flooring that facilitates aging in place treatments in homes of any age. The key is to enable people to have solid footing, good balance, and to be able to move assistive devices (canes, walkers, or wheelchairs) across them with little resistance or difficulty.
Probably more than any other product used in the home, flooring has seen more major advances over the past several years in what is available as well as how it looks and feels to stand and walk on it. There are many flooring choices that provide years of durable, safe, and attractive use.