What kind of floor covering would be best for an Alzheimer's patient who spills things every day?

5 answers | Last updated: Sep 21, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What kind of floor covering would be best for an Alzheimer's patient who spills things every day, which is ruining the carpeting, but can't have throw rugs for fear of tripping. There is tile in the bathroom, but she puts down towels and I'm afraid she'll fall.

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

I would definitely install 'fake' or laminate hardwood floors for two reasons: 1. they are very easy to care for and wipe clean with a little soap and water. 2. hardwood floors are most likely what is in her long term memory as they were the primary floor covering when most current AD folks were younger. Familiarity of the environment, as it relates to older memories, helps the AD person to feel most secure. Check with your local large hardware chain for the best prices and least care options. I would suggest getting stick on treads for the bathroom; these are usually placed in the bath tub to keep someone from slipping but can be used quite successfully on the floor with the same purpose. You are so right about not using throw rugs; they are quite hazardous for the dementia person who is less than sure-footed!

Community Answers

Oldblackdog answered...

This is a pricey solution, but - an ideal covering might be CORK flooring - the type with a ready-made finish. It comes in sections like laminate floors. Why is it good? - It is as easy to clean as laminate floors or vinyl. - it is soft - so that it a person falls, they are less likely to be hurt. -it feels comfortable to walk on.

Mlk63105 answered...

I design healthcare and senior living facilities and over the past few years started applying these materials to private residences, helping seniors age in place. I recommend a good no-wax vinyl floor and a wood grain is great. Be a savvy buyer and make sure that the "slip resistant coefficient" is 6.7-7.0. That will not only prevent falls, but also keeps the floor from becoming hard to clean.

Avoid plastic laminate and cork floors if there are excessive spills. Also, be sure there is a contrast between floors and walls, as well as cabinets/countertops to differentiate the planes from each other.

Myra at Aging-In-Place Home Solutions

Bettina dickson rush answered...

I used to design hospitals, medical offices and nursing homes. You should look at true linoleum floors, like Forbo's Marmoleum. It comes in sheet and tile and contains no PVC which they are saying is the next asbestos. Linoleum is a natural material that is durable, easy to clean and is anti-bacterial, anti mold. Very good for people with allergies as well...dust does not cling to it. Forbo also has a product called Flotex which is very good too...cleans like a resilient floor, but have some acoustical value...used in a lot of Long Term Care Facilities...used in all types of spaces there except for the toilet rooms.

Doforanimals answered...

I agree with mlk63105 and getting vinyl flooring with a wood-grain look to it. The problem with laminate flooring is that if you don't clean up a liquid spill quickly, the moisture seeps into the cracks between laminate boards causing them to buckle. (My pets have ruined all my laminate floors.) Vinyl flooring is easy clean-up, and easier on the feet than hard tile also. And if something breakable gets dropped on a vinyl surface, there's less chance of it shattering than being dropped on tile.