Elder Proofing A Balcony For Total Safety

elder proofing a balcony

When I first started to learn how to elder proof a balcony, I realised it is a area of the home that often gets overlooked, but as more and more seniors start living in apartments it is a vital area that needs to be safe.

There are 5 main areas to consider when elder proofing a balcony:

  • The railings
  • The deck
  • The doors
  • The furniture
  • The decorations

There are a surprisingly high number of hazards that can be present on a balcony that someone with less stable balance could become victim to.

On sunny days, a balcony is a great place for a senior citizen to sit and enjoy the weather while reading or doing hobbies. The solution is not to close off a balcony to a senior citizen, but instead take some steps to elder proof it.

Elder Proofing A Balcony For Total Safety - elder proofing a balcony

Ensure the balcony railings are at a good height and secure

As we age we tend to use anything and everything to pull ourselves up and a balcony railing is prime for this so make sure that the balcony railing is properly secured to the building. If in doubt get a contractor round to sure up the railings. At the same time, he could install other grab points to help seniors move around the balcony.

Depending on what country you are in there will be building regulations about how high a balcony railing must be as a minimum and is always worth checking.

If the balcony is a modern style one made of glass then it may be worth considering replacing it for something more secure. Obviously glass balconies offer the best views and if fallen against should not break but it is better to be safe than sorry. There are some beautiful styles that could be installed that are safer and still provide great views.

For an extra precaution, it can be a good idea to increase the height of the railings in case there is a slip. Whilst this might also impair the view slightly it is much better to land against railings than go over them.

just don’t go overboard and make it feel like a jail cell.

How to elder proof a balcony deck

slipping on a balcony is not unusual for most people and seniors could also be susceptible if extra care is not taken.

Having the balcony jet washed regularly to avoid build-up of any algae or slippery substance is important. It is also important as balconies tend to attract birds and any mess they leave can be toxic and should be cleaned away.

Make sure that the balcony drains properly, you can install a drain if there isn’t one which is all the more important if the balcony is decorated with flower pots or anything else that could introduce water onto the balcony.

If necessary, you could invest in having the balcony coated in not slip paints or resins with grit in. Normally the grit is small but effective so walking on the balcony with no shoes on should not be affected.

Elder proofing balcony doors

Balcony doors are another prime hazard area that needs to be assessed when elder-proofing a balcony. They are normally made of glass and present multiple hazards for senior citizens.

Make sure that there is some kind of indication on the glass when the door is closed. This can be in the form of stickers on the glass at eye height and is often used in offices to protect the staff from walking face-first into a clean glass door when it is shut.

Sliding doors are also preferable to regular opening doors for senior citizens as they don’t require someone to put weight behind them to open up. Pushing a regular door could lead to overstretching and loss of balance.

Sliding doors can also be purchased with low friction rollers so they open and close with very little effort.

Make sure that they lock correctly so that the homeowner feels safe and there are also many items that you can buy to add to the balcony doors to secure them. It can also be advisable to install some kind of security system that alerts you as a carer whenever the door is open. Knowing that the balcony door is open at night could help you to innocently pop over to check on them.

However, make sure that whatever you install, the senior citizen in question is able to operate it without any help else you might end up accidentally making the balcony off-limits to them.

Elder proofing balcony furniture

Elder proofing balcony furniture is quite a specialised topic and is very dependent on two factors

  • The style of furniture preferred by the homeowner
  • The space available on the balcony

When we talk about style of balcony furniture, generally there are two kinds, the hard chair style and the rattan style with soft furnishings.

It is important to consider the pro’s and con’s of the style of balcony furniture that is suitable for the elderly. Yes, soft furnishings will be more comfortable but also when the weather changes the cushions etc will need to be brought inside which could cause stress to a senior citizen if the weather changed quickly/

More durable furniture can be a better option if the homeowner is not going to spend huge amounts of time out there, they can also be supplemented with durable cushions like on a boat which does not need to be brought in during bad weather.

The space available is also very important to consider. You want to be sure that it is easy for a senior citizen to move around their balcony without having to climb over anything. If there is only a small space and they enjoy flowers maybe focus on the decoration of the balcony which can still be enjoyed from sitting inside with the door open if there is not enough room on the balcony.

Elder proofing a balcony from bad weather

Elder proofing a balcony from bad weather is more important in some areas than others, and it is also dependent on whether the homeowner wants access to the balcony during times of bad weather.

If it is an important space then either enclosing with shuttered windows like a conservatory is an option or if that is not possible then there are many canopy options available.

It very much comes down to the personal circumstances of the homeowner. if they prefer to sit inside and look out then you want to minimise the obstacles in view so that they can enjoy it.

What is important is that if they live in an area of changeable weather you make sure that there is nothing on the balcony that needs to be moved quickly inside when the weather changes as this might cause stress and potentially a fall from rushing

Elder proofing balcony decorations

Who doesn’t like to look at a beautiful flower arrangement and know that you were responsible for growing it? If a senior citizen enjoys gardening but lives in an apartment with a balcony they are limited to their options to enjoy their hobby.

When elder proofing balcony decorations there are a few things to consider.

Make sure that any pots, window boxes or hanging baskets that need working on are not placed directly on the deck or high up but are securely raised at a suitable level so that they can be worked on with the minimum of bending.

Don’t just balance pots precariously though, get creative with things like hanging baskets that can be watered and weeded while standing, build a shelf with cut out holders that can house any pots securely so they can’t fall accidentally.

As mentioned earlier, it is important to also pay careful consideration to the drainage of any flowers as you don’t want to make the balcony slippery every time the pots are watered. Wherever possible install drainage trails that go off the balcony so that it stays dry.

Also, consider how the items needed to enjoy the hobby get there. if the homeowner is an avid gardener then maybe take ownership of buying the necessary supplies so they don’t have to lug them out to the balcony. Creating some standing storage to house additional soil, watering cans and other tools will minimise the amount of walking needed to be done by the homeowner.

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About Bhanupriya Rawat Kitt 232 Articles
With Elderproofing.net, Bhanu paints a vivid and informative picture of life in the golden years, extending her warmth and expertise to families, caregivers, and senior citizens themselves. Drawing inspiration from the stories and experiences of her own loved ones, Bhanu embarked on a journey to make the twilight years safe, comfortable, and dignified for all. Elderproofing.net, her brainchild, stands as a beacon of hope and guidance for those navigating the unique challenges that come with age. The website isn't just a repository of information; it's a heartfelt endeavor to ensure that senior citizens lead a life full of respect, ease, and contentment. Bhanu, through her in-depth articles and resourceful tips, sheds light on the subtle nuances of elderly care - from making homes more accessible to embracing lifestyle adjustments that make every day a joyous one. At the heart of Elderproofing.net is Bhanu's belief that aging gracefully isn't a privilege but a right. By empowering caregivers and families with the essential tools and knowledge, she's striving to create a world where every senior citizen feels cherished, protected, and celebrated.