- June 6, 2014
Everyone grows older and it is important that when you or someone you love starts aging that your home is set up for their declining mobility. You may not have to worry about an elderly parent right now, but it is my experience that when that time comes you need to have the correct setup for them to easily perform normal duties in the bathroom, and have it done quickly.
This does not mean that the bathroom has to look ugly; you can upgrade your bathroom in many ways and still have a nice looking room. Here I will list some tips and tricks to ensure that your bathroom is designed for the elderly. It is important that if you are upgrading your bathroom or are building a brand new one that it is functional for everyone and will be a design that the next homeowner would like to use.
Seniors in wheelchairs will need the bathroom door to be wide enough to accommodate their chair. The door needs to be at least 32 inches wide, however, to account for trim and a 36” door you may choose to make it 38 inches wide. Make sure you account for the angle the wheelchair will be entering and make sure the width will allow for easy mobility. As far as esthetics of the room a wider door makes the bathroom feel larger. The threshold to the bathroom should be removed, as it is a tripping hazard, or design one to be flush with the rest of the flooring.
Toilets can be a real challenge for the elderly or wheelchair bound. It is important to have a chair height toilet to transfer from the wheelchair to the toilet. Also having a higher toilet will help the senior avoid bending or not being able to stand up after they use it. There are a lot of great looking toilets that are also ADA compliant, in different styles, colors and size. You also need to make sure that the toilet flush valve is up higher and easy to locate. This can help a senior who has trouble bending over. If you are unable to get a new toilet right now you can get a extender for your existing toilet that can be removed when guest some by or the senior is not home.
Sinks should be lowered for seniors in a wheelchair, but still accommodate the chair to roll under to wash hands. Putting in a new sink is not that expensive and there are a lot of ADA compliant sinks that are stylish and have beautiful hardware. Do not worry if you can only find generic looking ADA sinks, you can always replace the countertop with a beautiful granite countertop to heighten the beauty as well as the durability.
A great addition to the bathroom is a walk-in shower. These are easier for a senior to move in and out of, as there are no edges to climb over. Their wheelchair can come in with them and they can sit while they bathe. If you do not want the chair to get wet you can put a stool that is chair height in the shower for the senior to use. Walk in showers are beautiful and can be a great addition for everyone in the home. They also are easy to clean, as you do not have runners to clean up or glass doors.
If you have no room for a walk-in shower consider a walk in tub. There are a lot of new bathtubs that have a small sealed door to assist the senior in getting into the tub. If all of these upgrades are too expensive, consider getting a tub stool that they can sit on. Bending down to get into and out of the tub is a very easy way for a senior to get hurt or stuck.
Non-Slippery floors will help the senior to stay standing and not slip and fall. Because Mosaic tiles are larger and use more grout, they have more traction then most other flooring. If you would prefer a different kind of flooring you can talk to your flooring installers and ask them about anti-slip additives they can add to the top of your flooring.
Lastly, make sure you have bars in all the places they will be needed. A handrail next to the toilet can help a senior get up off the toilet. Grab bars set in the bathtub and in the shower to keep the senior from slipping and falling when getting into or out of the shower. If you purchase matching stainless steel bars they can go a long way in improving the way the bars look in your bathroom. You can also get different finishes to match your bathroom to keep it looking cohesive.
Make your house senior friendly so that your elder friends and families feel completely comfortable in your home.