Bathrooms Designed for Aging in Place

Key features for the bathroom(s) are discussed below.

Toilets
Having the toilets at the proper height for the intended user significantly enhances the comfort and safety of a bathroom. Three of the most common options to achieve proper height are replacing existing toilets with ones that are suited to the height of the users, installing toilet risers, and adding seat extenders. The latter solution is more economical and extenders can be purchased at a home healthcare store. If you wish to replace an existing toilet or install a toiler riser, bear in mind that the proper toilet height should be selected based on the needs of the people who will be using it. Depending on the lower leg length and the strength and abilities of the user, a higher toilet seat could create more issues than the toilet being too short.

At some point, you may also want to install toilet safety-frame rails. The frame attaches to the toilet using bolts that go through the same holes used for attaching the lid.

Other items to consider:

  • Consider installing a toilet paper holder designed to allow one-handed changing
  • Make sure the toilet paper holder can be easily reached while sitting on the toilet
  • A toilet/bidet combination may be a preferred alternative to a regular toilet, helping to improve hygiene

Read more to learn about toilets and accessories designed for aging in place, and see examples of useful toilets and toilet accessory products that may assist you in aging in place.

Grab Bars
You can increase safety significantly and economically by installing grab bars in the bathroom. At the toilet, grab bars can help with sitting and standing. In the tub and shower, they can help a person safely get in or out, stand up, sit, or remain standing. It is best to install several on the interior and exterior of the shower and tub area.

Points to consider:

  • Grab bars come in a variety of styles and colors to match your taste and décor.
  • Make sure the grab bars have a texture that is easy for gripping; a textured surface is not standard on all grab bars.
  • Even if you do not plan to install grab bars right now, you may want to go ahead and install the required bracing in the walls around the tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet; this will make it a simpler project to install the grab bars later, and you may be better able to handle the cost and temporary construction disruption now.
  • Grab bars and wall braces holding them will need to support 250 – 300 pounds; portable grab bars with suction cups are available, but should be attached and used with care.
  • You can also obtain a portable tub-access bar that affixes over the rim of a tub and can be used to assist people stepping in and out of the tub.

Read more about bathroom grab bars, and see examples of of useful bathroom grab bar products that may assist you in aging in place.

Bathtubs and Showers
Bathing is essential for good health and comfort. Taking a bath or shower can become progressively more difficult as you age in place. It may become difficult to step into tubs or even over lips to showers. Maintaining balance and strength may also present challenges.
Read more about shower and tub options and accessories, and see examples of useful bathroom tub and shower products that may assist you in aging in place.

Medicine Cabinets and Mirrors
When planning bathroom remodeling, locate the medicine cabinet in such a way that those who need to sit can reach them. Include mirrors that can be tilted up and down for greater ease of use by persons who need to sit or have diminished stature.

Read more about medicine cabinets and mirrors, and see examples of useful medicine cabinet and mirror products that may assist you in aging in place.

Miscellaneous
Other items to put in place include:

  • Make sure that the bathroom door can be unlocked from the outside.
  • While it is opposite of the normal configuration, bathroom doors should open outwards for accessibility. If someone falls in the bathroom against the door, an inward opening door may prove problematic. Pocket doors are a good alternative and have the added benefit of increasing useable space within the bathroom.
  • Install one or more phones in the bathroom that can be reached from the toilet, shower and tub areas. Cordless phones are easiest to add, but may become inoperable if the power goes off in the home.

Read more about other bathroom safety devices for aging in place, and see examples of other useful bathroom safety products that may assist you in aging in place.
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