Bathroom Remodeling Tips for Elderly Access
- December 7, 2015
Due to the nature of bathroom apparatus and of course the use of water making the floor slippery the elderly are most at risk of hurting themselves in this room than other ages. With bone density decline serious injury is more likely to occur too. This is why whether planning ahead for your home or moving a family member in, making changes to make access easier and safer is highly recommended.
Near the toilet, bath and/or shower grab rails are ideal for elderly people that may lose their balance easily. These should be installed parallel to the floor. The lighting is also something that needs to be considered because of failing vision. Manual dexterity tends to get worse as we age especially with problems like arthritis. To combat this making door handles more user friendly and bigger can make entering and leaving the bathroom easier so to avoid embarrassing accidents. If you have dimmer switches that turn, it may be better to use a standard switch as the twisting action can be awkward with stiff hands.
Just putting a bathmat into the shower to avoid slips and falls on these surfaces can make bathing and showering safer. If mobility is poor then think about how difficult it may be to get in and out of the bathtub. A transfer chair will save the back of any care givers and allow for better independence for those that are still able to bathe alone.
Remodeling for disability and wheelchair access
To keep as much independence as possible when in a wheelchair you may need to make bigger adaptations to your bathroom. The first place to start will more than likely be the door and frame. Widening the frame will make it easier for the wheelchair user to get in and out of the room as not all chairs will fit through a regular doorway.
Raising or replacing the sink and toilet
The sink may need raising or replacing and the bottom should allow enough space for a wheelchair to fit underneath it so that it is easy to wash hands after using the toilet. The optimum raise would e up to 34 inches if wheelchair bound, but higher to around 40 inches if the user is not in a wheelchair but still has mobility problems as it saves them from needing to bend down reducing the risk of falls.
This brings us to the next step which would be getting a toilet that is higher than standard by around 5 inches to 7. Another alternative to this would be to purchase a toilet seat that can be elevated so that all users in the house can sit in comfort. Especially useful if there is only one toilet in the house.
Elderly friendly flooring
Non slip flooring is definitely important due to not only water getting onto the floor but also the glossy tiles possibly causing slips and falls, especially if the user is not wearing slippers or shoes.
If you have rugs in your bathroom these need to be either removed or replaced. Although they add comfort they can also add the risk of falls if they do not have a rubber non slip underside, standard rugs usually have a backing that is soft and can cause slippage if a person is susceptible to losing their balance so are best avoided. Rubber mats are a much safer alternative.
Avoiding scalds and burns in the shower
Last but not least is installing a valve that is thermostatic, in doing so you eliminate the risk of the user getting scalded by turning the shower on after the last user at a higher temperature than they can handle.