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When it comes to planning your aging-in-place, one of the most important projects is remodeling your bathroom. After all, you use this room every day. Most importantly, your bathing space can become a dangerous area if it doesn’t have an aging-in-place bathroom design.
In recent years, we’ve witnessed an increase in the concept of aging in place. More and more people are choosing to grow old in their own homes instead of assisted living facilities. Therefore, the smart way to plan it is to remodel your living space in a way that it makes your senior years more convenient.
Truth be told, while modern bathrooms with a universal design are great for young homeowners and renters, they are often not safe for elderly or disabled individuals.
Your senior-friendly bathroom remodel project must, therefore, accommodate the right aging in place bathroom design to ensure maximum safety and ease of use. And, by the way, these designs can be both functional and fashionable if you choose well. For example, today, you can find a grab bar in a variety of styles to match your decor and taste. Some even doing double duty as a toilet paper holder!
Although remodeling a bathroom will cost you time, money, and effort, it’s definitely a worthwhile investment.
Let’s take a look at some of the most practical aging-in-place bathroom and bath solutions for your home.
1. Widen the doorway
The best way to make your bathroom handicap accessible is to widen the doorway to 36 inches. Also, remove any raised sill. Switch from a knob door handle to a lever handle for easier opening. It’s a good idea if your bathroom door opens out, not in. That way, if someone falls against the door, it won’t be blocked.
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2. Invest in a walk-in bathtub
A simple task like bathing can take an ugly turn if your bathroom is not outfitted with aging in place features. According to the New York Times, one-third of senior injuries and falls happen while bathing or showering.
A walk-in tub is one of the safer options as you don’t have to step over an edge to enter the tub. Instead, there’s a small door at the side of the tub that opens to give you easy and safe access. And usually, there’s an anti-slip stool inside so you don’t have to stand.
3. Install a shower seat
If you’re unable to upgrade to a walk-in tub, installing a waterproof shower seat or stool will be as convenient, especially if you have severe weakness or an intense back or hip pain. A non-slip, adjustable shower chair in a walk-in shower will prevent you from the strain of standing for long. Plus, keep you from slipping or falling.
4. Get an adjustable shower head
While on the subject of the shower, do get yourself an adjustable or handheld showerhead. Since such shower heads are on a sliding bar and can be moved to almost any height, they are great for the elderly who prefer a combination of sitting and standing. And, they are easy to install in just a few minutes.
5. Install a shower door
6. Place grab bars
Installing grab bars makes getting in and out of the shower or tub or toilet easier. These are usually bolted into the wall backer boards. Since the wall would already be anchored properly, grabbing onto these handrails would be safer and convenient. These safety improvements can support up to 300 pounds.
7. Replace your tile floor
Although a tiled bathroom floor is easy to clean, it makes for a slippery surface. When you’re planning an aging in place bathroom, be sure to replace your tiled bathroom floor with rubber flooring or non-slip vinyl flooring. It will ensure that the surface doesn’t get slippery when wet. Additionally, you can even apply a no-slip floor paint to hard floors.
If you’re on a tight remodeling budget, the cheapest aging in place solution is to use low pile, slip-resistant mats with rubber backing. Place these bath mats in areas where water may collect. Do fasten them to the floor with rug tape as an added safety measure.
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8. Get a comfortable height for your toilet
For an individual struggling to stand or sit, using a toilet can be tough. It’s, therefore, good aging in place bathroom design to have a higher toilet.
Upgrade your standard 15-inch toilet to a comfortable height of 17 to 19 inches. The higher toilet bowl height is easier on the knees and back. It especially offers good leverage to taller seniors and those with mobility problems.
If you cannot afford to purchase a new toilet, get a raised toilet seat that costs about $30 to $50.
9. Rethink your bathroom sink
Consider installing levers instead of knobs on your bathroom sink. Knobs can be tricky for arthritic hands to operate. You may also install a pedal/foot operated bathroom sink faucet or a touchless faucet with motion sensors.
The sink height is important. For example, a lower sink will be easier to reach for someone in a wheelchair.
Also, keep in mind that sinks should be wall-mounted so that they leave sufficient space underneath for someone seated. Furthermore, choose a countertop with round edges instead of sharp ones. It will go a long way towards reducing any fall injuries.
10. Invest in a full-length bathroom mirror
A full-length mirror is great for seniors, especially for someone seated. They may have trouble looking into a medicine cabinet mirror above the sink. A large mirror will make it easier for them to view themselves from anywhere in the bathroom.
11. Check your water heater
It’s also a good idea to check your water heater. You don’t want it to reach a scalding temperature. Installing an anti-scald device on your bathroom sink and shower is a safety improvement that you can easily make.
12. Get the right bathroom lighting
Remember that standard lighting isn’t enough in an aging in place bathroom. Instead of overhead light fixtures, install lighting that’s lower on the walls, even under the bathroom shelves. You may opt for battery-operated lights that do not need any wiring.
A good idea is to add motion sensor light switches that automatically turn the bathroom light on. It will keep you from fumbling in the dark for a light switch.
13. Get good bathroom storage to keep items handy
Bathroom storage is very important for the elderly, especially patients who need plenty of space for their medicines. When making a bathroom aging in place friendly, it’s also important to make sure that the bathroom cabinets are lower than normal to accommodate a person in a wheelchair or someone just sitting down.
You can opt for open shelving or cabinets with glass-front doors. Look for drawers with D-shaped pulls instead of knobs.
Good aging in place bathroom design is very important. You need to ensure that space does not pose a safety hazard. A few small changes can make your bathing a safe, convenient, and relaxing experience.