Commonplace, daily routines are so easy we don’t even need to think about them. But as our bodies age, that simple step into the shower, or the few minutes it takes to stand at the sink and brush our teeth, become routines that take extended effort.
Complications arise for the elderly as balance and mobility become more and more difficult. Suddenly, the bathroom can be a dangerous place where a shower threshold can cause a painful fall or a difficult faucet can lead to scalding. The bathroom can even become an unwelcome space if walkers or wheelchairs have no room to enter.
That’s why safe designs for the senior friendly bathrooms are so important. Zero-threshold showers and walk-in bathtubs provide security, safety, and even style when done right.
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You may step over the 6-inch threshold of your shower each morning without a thought. But when balance becomes an issue for an elderly person, those 6 inches can be a threat to safety. Not to mention the impossibility of maneuvering a wheelchair across a 6-inch threshold — or the trickiness of lifting a walker into the shower.
Instead, zero-threshold showers remove the threshold so you can just walk right into a shower. Balance is not an issue, and mobility challenges won’t interfere with the necessary daily routine.
And if style is important to you, zero-threshold showers won’t take that away from you. Even though they add mobility and accessibility to your bathroom, they don’t look like hospital features. Instead, they’re actually incredibly stylish — and even popular. More and more people are choosing to remodel with this classy look. Aging in place has never been so stylish.
Zero-threshold showers do require more space as they need to accommodate a splash zone. However, this is a benefit to the elderly because it provides more space in the bathroom for walkers and wheelchairs.
Create the safest zero-threshold shower by installing non-slip flooring to prevent dangerous falls. In addition, include a shower seat to make the showering routine safer and simpler. If standing while washing your hair is difficult, the seat makes it easy. The shower can continue to be a refreshing and relaxing part of your routine — even as you age.
Grab bars are an essential addition to a safe shower for the elderly, and a wall-mounted, pull-down shower head adds even more options for the senior friendly bathrooms.
Photo by Chris Lattuada on Flickr
Walk-In Bathtubs for Seniors
Nobody can deny the power of relaxation a nice soak in the tub brings. But many elderly people find this is a luxury in which they simply can no longer participate. If you have balance issues, stepping over the bathtub wall and sitting into the tub on your own is not only difficult, but it can also be incredibly unsafe. And if you need a wheelchair to get around, maneuvering into a normal bathtub is next to impossible.
But walk-in bathtubs give that luxury back to the elderly with a door on the front that easily opens and closes. No need to lift your leg over the side of a bathtub; you can just walk right in. And getting out of the tub is no longer a problem either. Simply step out.
This is a safe and easy way for the elderly to continue taking baths.
Photo by EllasBubbles, from Wikimedia Commons
The Whole Bathroom
The entire bathroom can be outfitted with various additions to make it into a senior friendly bathroom. Roll-up sinks that allow for wheelchair access can be installed. Lever handles on the cabinets make getting your toiletries an easier task. Accessible faucets remove the need for a strong grip, and programmable faucets eliminate the fear of being scalded by water that is too hot.
The challenges faced by the elderly don’t have to make self-care impossible. With well designed senior-friendly bathrooms, the elderly can continue their routines on their own with dignity and ease.