Aging in place and the bathroom
You don’t have to be “elderly” to love the features that professionals recommend for seniors. Too many homeowners wait until an elderly relative comes to live with them, or a spouse comes home from a rehab center after surgery or an accident to upgrade their bathroom with necessary features to ensure safety for their loved ones.
Proactive, thoughtful remodeling is so much better, and you won’t find yourself having to make decisions on what needs to be done during an already stressful time.
What changes can you make to a bathroom to make it user-friendly for someone who is unsteady on their feet or uses a walker? Here are some suggestions from professionals, trained to modify homes for mobility impaired persons.
- First, one full bathroom should be located on the main floor of the home.
- A contractor who has taken the classes for what is called “Aging in Place” will know the dimensions required, but be aware that someone who uses a cane, walker, or wheelchair will need more space to maneuver, that means, there will need to be more space around the toilet, the sink, and the shower.
- It can be difficult to rise up from a standard height toilet, so what is called a “comfort height” toilet is best, and it certainly works just as well for the fully able bodied family members as well.
- Grab bars! These handy little items are great for everyone and should be standard issue for all baths. However, they are not, so be sure you get some installed where they are most likely to be needed. They need to be professionally installed, as they must be able to handle the full weight of a person who may lose their balance. You don’t want the grab bar coming off the wall!
- A bench in a low-threshold shower is a wonderful feature.
- Have no-slip flooring installed everywhere in the bathroom.
- Lever handle faucets are easier to use for someone dealing with arthritis.
Check with a Universal Design or CAPs (Certified Aging in Place) certified contractor to determine what changes would work best for your family. Be smart, be proactive!