10 Ways to Make Your Bathroom More Accessible for Older Adults

by | Mar 30, 2020 | Caregiving

A bathroom remodel for seniors is certainly a challenge, especially when it comes to your loved ones. Wheelchair or walker accessibility, space for assistance when it is needed, and choosing ‘arthritis-friendly’ fixtures are just a few things to consider.

Spacious Bathrooms for Older Adults

Leaving enough space to maneuver a wheelchair to the shower, toilet, or vanity will save you a great deal of trouble in the end. If you choose to expand your bathroom space, it might require moving plumbing, or even breaking down and rebuilding walls. This is a big step, and you’ll want to do this first, and you might even consider hiring a professional contractor.

Ensuring Wheelchair/Walker Accessibility

Forcing a wheelchair or walker through an exceedingly narrow doorway can result in damage to the door jams, surrounding walls, and even your equipment or loved one. There is nothing simple about widening the entry to a room, and subsequently replacing the door. If you need only a couple of extra inches, swing away door hinges might be a simpler solution than renovating, and they can be found at most local hardware stores.

Using Handles and Hardware that are Easy to Grasp

There are several health conditions that may limit an older person’s ability to grasp traditional round handles. While improving bathrooms for older adults, consider installing more ergonomic lever-style handles for doors, showers, and cabinets. For ease of faucet use, look for touch top designs that require only a simple tap of the wrist to activate.

Creating Level Floors

Having multiple steps, or too high steps, can be troublesome. You may wish to install or build a ramp, which should have no more than a 5 degree (1:12) incline per ADA standard. However, in some circumstances, it might make more sense to raise the floor.

Remodeling Showers for Seniors

Bathing can be one of the more difficult tasks for an older adult. Stepping over a high ledge into a tub or shower is only a small task, compared to sitting in a deep tub to take a bath. It is important to provide safe showers for seniors. A nice choice is a shower with a very low or no threshold; this practical design would instead be gently sloped toward your drain to prevent flooding. Another option is a walk in tub. This is a nice option for those who particularly enjoy soaking in a bath.

Raising the Toilet

In terms of bathrooms for older adults, using the toilet can sometimes present a particularly difficult challenge. A quicker and less expensive option would be to use a removable seat with handles, these can be found at medical supply stores or  online. If you are looking for a more inviting and permanent fix, you can install a toilet that is taller on its own.

Making the Vanity More Inviting

A bathroom remodel for seniors should include a seated vanity space which makes them feel comfortable and at ease, confident in their ability to care for themself. Designing an area around wheelchair accessibility, where styling and grooming tools are easily within reach is important. Also, consider a mounted mirror that is either movable or tilted downward from the wall so that it can be used while seated.

Bathing Solutions for Older Adults

When building showers for older adults, there are several measures that can be taken to make bathing a more pleasant and worry-free experience. First, it is important to provide seating. A removable seat with handles can be purchased and used, but built in seating is even more convenient and easier to keep clean. Second, install easy to grip grab bars in multiple positions. It is important to remember to reinforce shower walls to ensure that they can withstand the weight of an adult. Third, look to make the showerhead as easy to access as possible.

Increasing Lighting

It is important to provide extra lighting for older individuals whom may be visually impaired. Make for several options of lighting such as night lights for the evening, or sky lights to bring in ample quantities of rejuvenating sunlight. Motion activated lights are great, especially for those who use walkers, canes, or wheelchairs.

Fall-Proofing the Floor

If your older loved one takes a fall, they may be at risk of great injury. It is important for bathrooms for older adults to have no-slip coating in the tub or shower, and plush mats on the floors to reduce the chance of a fall occuring.

A bathroom remodel for seniors might prove to be a rather large undertaking. However, you’ll gain peace of mind knowing the your older loved one has a safe place where they can maintain their independence.