Choosing floors for seniors

Special flooring is advisable for seniors for a number of reasons. First, seniors are more prone to stumbles and falls, therefore flooring that reduce slipping is an incredibly important fact to keep in mind. The elderly can also have skeletal issues such as bad joints (knees, hips, etc.) and backs that could greatly benefit from soft, warm flooring such as carpet, rubber or cork. Finally, easy maintenance in environments where incontinence issues arise and hygiene is of paramount importance (No VOCs), is a factor that can greatly effect quality of life.

Flooring to help prevent falls
The Elderly can suffer from problems with balance and depth perception. Weak knees, back and hips can often lead to some very serious falls. In addition, seniors can suffer from sudden attacks-such as strokes or heart attacks-that can lead to falls.

Falls that result in serious injuries to the hips and back can have devastating consequences. In some cases, the person never fully recovers and there is a high mortality rate for such individuals in the years following accidents due to complications from the injury. For this reason, it is a great idea to install special flooring for your elderly parents, relatives or clients. One possibility is to use non-slip tiles specially designed to provide an extra degree of traction.


Modular rubber flooring is another great option. You do not have to remove your current floor with some of the rubber flooring options. These rubber floors come in modular tile form that you attach together and simply lay over your current floor. Rubber provides an excellent non-slip surface, and it also helps cushion impact to the body while walking. You can choose rubber flooring of extra thickness for seniors who have particularly painful conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis, or for those recovering from hip or knee surgery. Thick rubber can also help reduce the severity of an injury in case of a fall.

Many people already use rubber mats in the shower or bath to prevent slipping on a wet surface. Rubber and other types of non-slip tiles can fit together seamlessly, which is an important safety feature. Seniors often slide or shuffle their feet as they walk, so you want as smooth a surface as possible to prevent tripping.

Benefits of a soft floor
For seniors who fall frequently, a hardwood or ceramic floor offers no cushioning. Even if the individual is able to break their fall, they can still suffer hand and wrist injuries.

Rubber flooring provides a softer landing and can add additional padding under the floor tiles for extra cushioning. Seniors often have porous bones that can break with just minor impact, so every bit of protection can mean the difference between a serious or minor injury.

Do not think of the rubber mats you have in your showers when visualizing rubber floor tiles. They come in varieties that look similar to regular carpeted, hardwood or ceramic tile floors.

In addition to providing protection from hard impacts during falls, soft floors are also great for seniors who suffer from sore joints and similar ailments. You can select padding of various thicknesses depending on the severity of the condition. The soft surface helps ease pain caused by simply walking down the hallway, especially during periods of cold weather when rheumatism can be at its worst.

Modular floors are easy to clean
Incontinence affects seniors more than the general public. These issues can lead to messy accidents and an unhygienic environment if not cleaned properly. To help ease the process of cleaning and maintenance, modular tile floors are simple to install and remove.

You can easily detach any number of the tiles to wash and dry separately. Once cleaned, they are just as easy to reinstall. By removing the tiles, you can also thoroughly clean the surface below to insure no growth of bacteria, mold or mildew occurs.

Modular carpet, vinyl and rubber tiles are relatively easy to clean and dry. For urine stains in fabric, you can apply vinegar before soap and water to breakdown the odor-causing urea. Some floors have stable color fabrics so that you can wash them using bleach to completely remove all stains and odors.

Bleach and vinegar are also excellent in destroying unhealthy microbes that can grow on both soft and hard surfaces.
Low or no VOC flooring
Many people may not have heard of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, studies show that these compounds can lead to a number of health conditions from asthma to headaches and pneumonia. Some VOCs may even cause cancer.

According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), VOC levels in the home can be substantially higher that they are in the outdoor environment.

Since seniors already have enough to deal with in terms of health issues, lowering the VOC concentration in the home can be of great benefit to them. In particular, you want to avoid the more harmful VOCs like formaldehyde, which can have immediate effects on health.

Flooring materials can differ significantly in the amount of VOCs, if any, they contain:

Bamboo – Adhesives used to connect bamboo panels and tiles can contain VOCs. In order to ensure that there are low or no VOCs, you should only use bamboo or other materials that meet the E1 standard.
Carpet – Many carpet types contain VOCs, so you will need to be careful in choosing the right product. Again, you can check for the E1 standard to be on the safe side. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) issues a Green Label for carpets with low or no VOC content.
Cork – Cork uses toxic binders during manufacturing, but these are mostly removed during processing. Choose cork and cork adhesives displaying the E1 standard on the label to ensure low VOCs.
Hardwood – The finish and adhesives used for hardwood flooring can contain VOCs. You can check for the E1 standard or ask the retailer or manufacturer for information on VOC content.
Vinyl and linoleum – All-natural linoleum can smell strongly after installation due to the presence of linseed oil. However, this has low VOC content. Similar-looking vinyl, on the other hand, is another matter. The synthetic plastics used in vinyl manufacturing can emit harmful chemicals for years after installation. You must be very careful when selecting vinyl to ensure that it is safe for the elderly.


More and more seniors are choosing to live their final years in the comfort of their own homes. Choosing appropriate flooring for seniors will help prevent falls and lead to overall improved health and well-being. Soft floors will provide cushioning when even walking can be difficult. Additionally, modular floors are easy to clean and many are bleach-safe so that you can deal with the toughest stains and odors.