Are Patio Furniture Trends Adapted for Aging in Place and Elderyarding® ?

Aging in Place Patio Furniture

Patio Furniture Designs for Older Adults Aging in Place

Today, with the rise in the trend for indoor/outdoor living, the porch or patio has become a year-round extension of the house. This means that you could be thinking about your outdoor space even as the fall/winter season approaches. If your home is a celebratory gathering space, you might even be thinking about an update to your patio furniture in preparation for the upcoming holiday celebrations.

If you use your outdoor sheltered space throughout the year, you likely have substantial requirements. Let's look at how to choose the right furniture using an Elderyarding® approach.

The Right Outdoor Furniture for Aging in Place

When it comes to choosing the right furniture for aging in place, it's important to consider several elements including scale, comfort, and maintenance. Promoting exercise, access to the outdoors safety should be among the goals of outdoor living areas. Rest and socialization need to be kept in mind when creating a successful design. Careful evaluation when selecting aging in place outdoor furniture is not only important for comfort and safety but as you age, maintenance needs should also be considered. 

Does Your Outdoor Furniture Fit You?

When it comes to selecting ageless furniture, the most important criteria is scale. 
No, I don't mean how the furniture looks in the area it's planned for, although that's certainly something a landscape architect or interior designer would consider. What I mean is that the furniture needs to scale with the people using it. 

One modern trend is for outdoor furniture to be oversized, so it makes a significant impact on space. But, how does it fit you? Just like trying a mattress before buying it, you should try your outdoor chairs and love seats before selecting an item just because it was featured in a design magazine or it looks great online. Oversized chairs can have seats that are quite deep, which can create issues for older homeowners.

If you need cushions at your back so your knees can bend at the cushion edge to help your feet to touch the floor, the seat is too big for the scale of your body. Struggling to get up from a chair that is too big for your body, can be awkward, even if you're athletic. If you or a family member has a disability, even something we think of as “normal” like arthritis, rising from a too deep chair can be painful or require assistance. This is definitely not something that you want to experience at the end of time spent relaxing on the patio!

View Our Well-Being Classes - The Garden Academy

In addition to seat depth, consider the height of the seat from the ground. Comfortable height for most of us is 18 inches. And don't forget to take a look at the arms of the chair, loveseat or sectional you're evaluating. Aging in place furniture that can outlast trends provides adequate support for getting up and sitting down. Seating that's quite low with arms that are high and rectangular offers less leverage for the up-and-down movements required when sitting and standing.

Evaluating how seating fits should be considered for all materials from wood, to metal, concrete benches, wicker, all-weather wicker substitutes, and even fabric sling-type seating. If it takes an effort to use the seat when you're able-bodied, it will not provide support and comfort later in life.

Choosing the Right Outdoor Cushions

Consider soft furnishings; seat and back cushions.
When choosing cushion, first consider the filling. Confirm that it is mildew proof or mildew resistant and that the material drains quickly if it gets wet. Think about both seasonal and long-term care and maintenance. Fabrics that can take the sun, rain and even salt spray are now available. Colorful fabrics provide liveliness in your outdoor space and can add comfort to sitting on furniture designed to withstand the weather. 

Remember that even seating sold without cushions might need cushioning to be comfortable as the body loses its own padding with age. It’s a good idea to check whether loose or replacement cushions sold on their own can be fitted to the furniture you’re considering.

Low Maintenance Is Best for Aging in Place Outdoor Furniture

Plan for maintenance.
Determine if the cushions need to be stored when not in use, so the filling or fabric doesn't deteriorate or fade. Anticipate that they may need to be washed occasionally, especially if not stored or if the weather provides a rare dust or mud storm. Plan on replacing covers every three to five years in case the fabric or filling becomes difficult to clean or traps pollen or dust that can contribute to allergies.

Choosing the Right Outdoor Furniture Material

When it comes to the actual material your furniture is made from, each has its own pros and cons. Let's look at the four most common choices.

Resin and Aluminum: This type of material is relatively inexpensive and easy to care for, It's extremely lightweight which makes it easier to move around and position for older homeowners. However, it may be too lightweight to stay in place during windy or stormy conditions. It can also be uncomfortable when seated for an extended period. Resin may also not be sturdy enough for long-term use and may need to be replaced every few years. Aluminum wrapped with resin is now a readily available substitute for wicker, especially in exposed areas on a patio or pool deck.

Steel: Steel furniture is also relatively lightweight, although it is sturdier that resin or aluminum. Wrought iron is heavier and sturdier. Both, however, are susceptible to rust over the long term if not adequately maintained. Powder-coated steel or wrought iron are less vulnerable than painted metal.

Wicker: Wicker furniture is elegant, gracious and comfortable. It's an excellent material for providing an “indoor feel” when used outdoors; however, it may not stand up to weather year round as well as other materials.

Wood: Wood is durable, luxurious, and when fitted with cushions, extremely comfortable. Teak is an excellent choice that ages gracefully and will develop a lovely patina over time. However, well-made wood furniture tends to be a bit more expensive and does require periodic resealing to make it last.

Carefully considering scale, comfort, and maintenance needs can help you to choose the perfect outdoor furniture for creating an aging in place porch or patio. Spending time outdoors is proven to improve the quality of life as you age. Choosing the right outdoor furniture can provide you with a comfortable space to enjoy the outdoors with your family and friends as you age gracefully.

Ann Yakimovicz