As the Baby Boomer population moves into retirement age, Boomers are beginning to think more about what they will need in their homes to accommodate their changing mobility and flexibility.
People do not want to give up their beloved homes just because they’re getting older, but age does present new challenges. Because easy-to-use bathrooms are even more necessary as people get older, here are some ideas to modify bathroom space to make aging in place and remaining in your home a reality.
One danger in bathrooms is falling. Smaller bathrooms can be difficult for older or physically impaired people to navigate, and when you combine a small space with moisture or puddles, slips and spills become more likely. For some people a complete bathroom overhaul may be necessary to make it handicap accessible. For others, simpler solutions will work very well.
Let’s break it down by fixture:
Higher-seated toilets or “comfort-height” toilets require users to do less stretching and levering. They also make it easier to shift weight from a wheelchair to a toilet. People are familiar with the kinds of handicap accessible toilets found in public restrooms, but comfort-height toilets accomplish the same safety, comfort, and accessibility goals without the institutional feel.
Any kind of bathtub becomes more challenging for people with mobility problems to use. A 12-inch tub wall is a trip hazard any way you look at it. Replacing a bathtub with a walk-in shower would solve this problem. However, if you want to keep the bathtub as a feature, consider replacing a traditional tub with one that has a wider ledge or even a walk-in tub. Add grab bars anywhere they would help balance your weight moving in and out of the bathtub. Many bars can function as shelves or toilet paper holders as well so they look less institutional but provide just as much assistance where it’s needed.
The ideal age-in-place shower would be doorless and curbless with a seat inside for resting and a handheld shower head (and grab bars). These changes would improve accessibility, eliminate slip risks, and allow for leisurely bathing. A walk-in shower is great for the entire family, looks streamlined and attractive, and can be much easier to clean than a traditional shower with a track door.
Wall-mounted sinks make it easier for someone in a wheelchair to use the sink, counter, and mirror. Lever handles are easier to turn on and off than knobs as well. Replacing the medicine cabinet with one that has interior lighting can also be helpful for people with visual impairments.
Many people put off a bathroom remodel because they do not want an institutional looking bathroom, but options for safer, more comfortable and very attractive bathroom features exist now. You do not have to exchange attractiveness for functionality. Swapping out a regular toilet for a higher-seated one and adding a few well placed shower rails can go a long way to making the bathroom much more suited to aging in place. Creating better lighting and replacing flat surface floors with textured or slip-resistant tiles are also great ideas. If you want to make your bathroom safer and more accessible, call us at Lake Michigan Mechanical. We would be glad to discuss your options with you and help you plan for a better future.