Designing A Safe Bathroom For Seniors
Having to deal with mobility issues as we age isn’t something that we should shy away from confronting. In fact, thanks to advancements in modern technology, there are many ways to address age-related movement problems without breaking our bank account or changing the way that we live our lives. With that being said, there is a specific area of your home that is problematic for seniors who are struggling with their physical movements: your bathroom.
Every year, thousands of seniors end up falling in their bathroom due to factors that can be mitigated if not outright eliminated. Falling as a senior, especially in the bathroom, is incredibly dangerous. From slippery surfaces to cluttered and cramped spaces, most modern bathrooms simply aren’t designed to assist an aging individual. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can remodel your bathroom for elderly use. Today, we are going to focus on how we can prepare our home by embracing elderly bathrooms.
Devices Needed For A Senior Friendly Bathroom
Adjusting your bathroom for easy use by your elderly loved ones can be accomplished in a number of different ways. Our primary goal is going to be focused on eliminating the extensive fall risk that most common bathrooms represent. When we can eliminate the potential for falling and injuring ourselves or our loved ones, we can make our bathrooms much, much safer. We have divided our bathroom safety tips for seniors into four key categories: the room itself, the shower, the bathtub, and the toilet. Each section will highlight a few key tips that can help you to change your bathroom in such a way as to reduce potential issues.
Focus On The Room Itself
Before we dig into the bulk of our bathroom design for seniors, we want to start by addressing a few simple additions to the area. If we can alter some of the basic aspects of our bathroom, it’ll be easier to complete our design in a way that promotes safety for people of all ages and abilities.
1) Purchasing A Bathroom Wheelchair.
Let’s start by talking about shower wheelchairs. Shower wheelchairs give people with movement restrictions the ability to shower in a completely secure way. No matter your disability, a shower wheelchair can introduce a safe element to your showering experience. When looking for a shower wheelchair you must consider a few key design elements:
A) Material Build – Shower wheelchairs come in aluminum, stainless steel, and plastic builds. Stainless steel is corrosion resistant, plastic is lightweight, and aluminum is a nice blend of the two traits.
B)Portability – Shower wheelchairs come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some chairs require the user to construct the accessory before use while others can remain installed within the shower itself.
2) Install A Bathroom Bench.
Being able to rest and relax is tremendously helpful when you are dealing with someone that is facing issues due to their movement. A bathroom bench, also known as a shower seat, can go a long way toward helping to protect your elderly loved ones. A bathroom bench is incredibly easy to install and it won’t break the bank either. Bathroom benches provide a stable seat for someone to sit on as they bathe, shower or otherwise prepare for their day. These benches are also ideal for someone who uses crutches or has an injury to their body. Let’s highlight a few areas to focus on as you begin shopping for bench options.
A) Bathroom Size – You need to know the exact size of your bathroom and your bathtub so that you can ensure that your shower bench will fit.
B) Weight Capacity – Depending on the type of build, your bathroom bench can have a dynamic range for weight capacity.
C) Adjustability – Finally, you’ll want to decide whether or not it is important to be able to adjust the height of the seat. Adjustable seats are more expensive but they are better for obvious reasons.
3) Lay Out A Non-Slip Mat.
One of the simpler ways to accommodate bathrooms for seniors is by installing a non-slip mat. A slip can be absolutely destructive to your older loved ones. A non-slip mat can help to eliminate these dramatic and dangerous falls. Non-slip mats are affordable and easy to lay out. Don’t hesitate, get one today.
5) Consider A Bathroom Rail.
Bathroom safety rails help to make your bathroom accessible and secure. People with limited movements, such as our elderly loved ones or those dealing with an injury, benefit from all of the help that they can get when it comes to maintaining their stability. There are a variety of different safety rails available, so let’s quickly touch on a few options.
A) Straight Safety Bars – These bars are straight and can be directly installed into your wall. They are extremely durable and weight-resistant.
B) Clamp On Rail – This type of bathroom rail can clamp directly onto your bathtub. These rails are ideal for people who require assistance getting into and out of their bathtubs.
C) Wall to Floor Rails – This bathroom rail is anchored at two points: the ground and the wall. These rails are typically put next to toilets or bathtubs so as to offer ease of movement when getting up or sitting down.
D) Flip Up Rails – Finally, you can consider acquiring a flip up bathroom rail if you want something that can be moved out of the way when not in use.
Preparing The Shower
A bathroom remodel for elderly individuals needs to take into account the most dangerous area of the entire bathroom: the shower. While many of the tips that we have highlighted in other areas will impact the shower, there are still some direct changes that can be made to the shower itself. Let’s keep it short and sweet by highlighting two important alterations that can be made.
1) Shower Head For Disabilities.
It stands to reason that if showering is difficult for the elderly, we can accommodate them by focusing on the shower head itself. Shower heads don’t come in one size and style. In fact, if we really dig into the world of shower heads we will find that there are a number of specific ways that they can be improved. Shower heads for the elderly are available in many different shapes and styles, so focus on these key characteristics as you shop around.
A) Extendable Hose – Rather than relying on a fixed shower mount, look for a shower head that can be extended thanks to a hose. A long shower hose will allow the user of the shower to sit comfortably while cleaning their entire body.
B) Temperature Control – As we get older, our skin becomes more and more sensitive to extreme shifts in temperatures. Finding a shower fixture that allows for secured temperature adjustments is absolutely integral to our remodel. When we can easily control temperature shifts, we can ensure that our loved ones are not put into any danger.
2) Specialty Shower Curtains.
Most bathroom remodeling elderly guides won’t consider the shower curtain as an important area to focus on. However, if we want to truly keep our loved ones from harm, we have to consider all improvements. Consider installing a weighted shower curtain to keep the curtain secured within the tub, thus preventing it from becoming a tripping hazard.
Prepping Your Bathtub
We’ve talked plenty about many key aspects of our bathroom. Let’s shift our attention to the main area of concern: the bathtub. Getting in and out of the bathtub can be one of the most dangerous areas of your bathroom. These additions can make a world of difference to your loved ones.
1) Make Life Easy With A Bathtub Lift.
Bath lifts provide our older loved ones with a way to get in and out of the tub without having to worry about potential injury. Bath lifts are specially designed assistants that seek to raise and lower an individual into their tub. These lifts come in three different types: water powered, battery powered, and manual. Each type of lift offers a slew of benefits and you’ll have to take your specific situation into account when making a purchase. Bath lifts are installed inside your tub and reach a height of 17″ to 23″.
2) Consider A Walk In Tub.
Walk in tubs are the ultimate solution to the ultimate problem facing seniors with limited movement capabilities. The most dangerous part of any bathroom visit is going to be the climbing over of the porcelain tub edge. A walk in tub immediately puts that problem in the past. A walk in tub has a special opening that users can walk through. Walk in tubs are an ideal investment for individuals who know that their movements are going to be limited for prolonged periods of time.
3) Add Bath Steps For Added Ease.
As we’ve highlighted extensively throughout our discussion, getting in and out of the tub is a real problem. Bath steps are stackable items that allow users to climb in and out of their tub while limiting their exposure to potentially dangerous situations. Bath steps come in different styles, sizes, and weight capacities. Additionally, bath steps come in different material builds.
Prepare Your Toilet
We use the toilet often enough to know that we cannot ignore the commode when redesigning our bathroom to be friendly to seniors. To get older in grace and peace, we have to be able to use the bathroom while maintaining our independence and our safety. Listed below, you’ll find a handful of ways to address your toilet while preparing your bathroom for use by elderly loved ones.
1) Rig A Raised Toilet Seat.
Did you know that one of the most affordable ways to increase the usability of your bathroom is by raising your toilet seat? Raised toilet seats help to change the distance between the user’s knees and the floor itself. Raised toilet seats assist users who are suffering from inflamed health conditions such as arthritis. Any way that you can help your loved ones should be explored and raising the toilet seat through the many different options for sale is the ideal approach.
A) Toilet Seat Shape – There are two key shapes that users can choose between when shopping for a raised toilet seat. There is the elongated shape which is 16.5″ long and there is the oval elongated shape which is 18.5″ long
B) Level Of Elevation – Raised toilet seats can change the elevation level anywhere from 2 to 6 inches, depending on the product.
2) Buy A Bidet For The Elderly.
No matter how much we take care of ourselves, growing older can take a toll on our hygiene. One of the easiest ways to lose track of our hygiene as we grow older is our bathroom experience. We can improve our bathroom experience by installing a toilet bidet. The average user will go to the bathroom nearly 7 times per day. Now compound these uses by a lacking ability to properly remain clean.
A) Immediate Benefits – Toilet bidets offer a hands-free experience for users that will keep their private areas clean. Toilet bidets also eliminate the difficult stretching that some seniors cannot handle. Finally, bidets offer a gentle way to clean areas where sensitive skin may grow irritated, thus reducing chafing and potential infection.
B) Common Bidet Options – There are essentially two affordable bidet options available that seniors can take advantage of today. There is the standard bidet and the raised toilet seat bidet. Both bidets are easy to install and can be had for anywhere from $40 to $500.
3) Explore Different Toilet Frames.
As we’ve highlighted several times, using the bathroom is a task that needs to be accomplished several times per day. Unfortunately, when we cannot sit down and get up from the toilet without the chance of injury, there is an issue. Fortunately, there are many different toilet frames that are focused on safety and usability. These toilet frames come in a variety of different designs.
A) Safety Rails – There are toilet safety frames that come with handrails affixed to the toilet itself. These handrails allow for our loved ones to sit down and stand up with relative ease while increasing balancing ability.
4) Install A Commode Chair.
Our final point of focus when designing a bathroom for senior use is that of the commode chair. The commode chair is an integral part of any senior bathroom because it offers a convenient and protected form of going to the bathroom. Commodes are essentially upright chairs that are framed with safety rails. In between the safety rails there will be a toilet seat and under that toilet seat will either be access to the already installed toilet or to another bucket. When choosing a commode, we have to take several factors into consideration.
A) Location – Will this commode be installed overtop a pre-existing toilet or will we be using it as a standalone accessory? Commode chairs that can standalone are ideal for individuals who are restricted to their bedroom or otherwise cannot make it to the bathroom. Additionally, we can opt to purchase commodes with wheels so that we can move the chair around as needed.
B) Weight Capacity – As we will be seated directly onto the commode chair, we must make sure that the chair itself can handle our weight. Commode chairs range in weight capacity depending on the product. Typically, commode chairs will support anywhere from 250 to 400 lbs.
C) Height – The height of the commode chair is absolutely integral to the successful usage of the product itself. The commode needs to be tall enough to get on and off without effort.
D) Comfort – Commode chairs also have to be comfortable for routine usage. There are different ways to address the comfort of the chair itself. From having a comfortable backrest and footrest to having flexible drop-arms for limb support, there are many ways to customize our commode.
E) Material Build – Commodes come in a multitude of different material builds. From aluminum and plastic to steel, no singular option is intrinsically better than the next. We have to address our specific needs and situations.
As you can plainly see, designing a bathroom that is usable for seniors can be done. We simply have to approach the process by focusing on what is important: the safety of our loved ones. By using the guide above, you will be able to appropriately address every facet of your bathroom so that your loved ones can use the room with peace, safety, and grace.