Independent living is a goal we all want, for our aging parents, and for ourselves when the time comes. Creating a senior-friendly bathroom is an important step in that direction. Since the bathroom is one of the most used, and most dangerous, rooms in the home it’s important to address some specific concerns. Here we’ll look at some bathroom adaptations that will make it easier, safer, and more comfortable for seniors to continue living independently.
Getting into and out of a bathtub becomes harder as we age. It increases the chances of slipping and falling. The solution to this is to convert that old, worn out tub to a beautiful, brand new shower. Assistive devices such as handheld shower, shower seat, safety pole and grab bars are installed at appropriate locations.
Traditional cabinets can be hard for the elderly to access. These can be replaced with Handi-Glides for easy-access drawer space and to increase functional storage. Handi-Glides can also be adapted to an existing vanity. Switching to a single-handle faucet increases mobility and comfort.
You should be able to sit down on a toilet and stand up without a struggle. If that’s not the case, replacing a standard height toilet with a Comfort Height Toilet should help. Raising the seating area assists those with knee and back pain or those with mobility issues.
Wet floors and old or worn carpeting are the primary causes of slips, trips, stumbles and falls. Slip-resistant flooring provides for more secure footing while moving about. Additional LED lighting will improve visibility for old eyes that don’t see as well. You can also back-light electrical wall switches. Swap door knobs for door levers. Levers are much easier to use for those with decreased grip strength, arthritis, or other hands and wrist problems.
Most of us want to be able to live in our homes for as long as possible. Fortunately, the challenges introduced by aging in place can be easily met with a home renovation. Homes for seniors focus on independence, mobility and safety. These can include more lighting and slip-resistant flooring, creative solutions to accommodate walking aids, adjusting the heights of counters, installing glides, and more. Here are 5 top tips for doing a home reno for aging residents.
1. Handrails. These are important anywhere balancing and steadying are needed. On stairs, install handrails on both sides.
2. Widen doorways and hallways for wheelchairs and walkers. Traditionally, these openings measured from 22 to 27 inches wide. To comfortably allow a wheelchair or walker to pass through, they need to be 32 inches wide. Barn doors and sliding doors are excellent options and easy to use.
3. Bathroom modifications. Grab bars help with raising and lowering oneself and can be placed near the shower, toilet, and bathtub. Consider a Tub-to-Shower conversion. You can also add seating in the shower area. A bathtub cut-away is a unique solution to improve accessibility in an existing tub. Switch out door knobs for levers. These are easier and more comfortable to use.
4. Kitchen adaptations. Converting cupboard and pantry space to drawer space increases accessibility and storage. Install cabinet door pulls instead of knobs and a single handle faucet with gooseneck and pull out sprayer for better ease-of-use.
5. Stairs. Stairs present a significant fall hazard for the elderly. Install ramps for wheelchairs for greater access to, from, and around the home. You can also have a chair lift installed.