Mistake No. 1: Gymnasium-like dining spaces
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A cavernous dining room is the worst for acoustics, Cini says. “We’ve moved away from carpeting and taken away heavy draperies, but that hurts the acoustics. Dining is a place to connect and let your soul rest, but if you can’t hear properly, you’re uncomfortable and not authentically ‘you.’”
Solution: Divider walls
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If you’re working with an existing space and want to reduce that cavernous quality for better acoustics, Cini suggests wall dividers to break the room into more approachable, cozier areas. Also, why not take a page of out of a medieval castle’s book and hang some cool rugs or tapestries on the walls.
Mistake No. 2: Dim lighting
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“Older folks require 74% more light to see than a 24-year-old does,” Cini says. “If you dimmed your light by 74%, that’s what they can see.” When Cini recently traveled to Germany, she saw electronically backlit menus at a high-end restaurant. It made her think of the challenges seniors face in fine-dining settings. “You have to give up something,” she says. “Either you give up ambience, or you give up the older population being able to read the menu.”
Solution: Little table lights
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Remember the scene in Goodfellas where Ray Liotta and his date walk into a fancy nightclub and end up seated in the front row? Cute little table lamps will bring back that feeling of being in the right place and will help seniors read their menu at the same time. Cini recommends screwing cordless lamps directly into the table for added stability.
Mistake No. 4: Steps that sneak up
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“It’s not that seniors fall more,” Cini says. “It’s that they can’t recover easily when they do. And they may have less body fat to cushion their fall.”
Solution: Light up different levels
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Putting LED strips that light up on steps can help surprise stumbles, “like on an airplane aisle,” Cini says.
Mistake No. 3: Not enough contrast between furniture and floor
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When the tones of your tables, chairs and floor all blend together, that’s a recipe for falling when trying to take a seat.
Solution: Contrasting colors for tables, chairs and floor
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Use contrasting colors for going between vertical and horizontal planes, Cini says, “and that makes a huge difference in reducing falls.”
Mistake No. 5: Seats that are too low
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Getting into and out of seats can be impacted by a matter of inches.
Solution: No low riders!
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Cini says the seat of a chair should be around 20 inches off the ground; between 19 and 21 inches is too low for seniors to comfortably pop a squat.