Whether you have elderly parents moving in or you simply want to prepare your own bathroom for your plans to age in place at home, there are a few things to consider to make your bathroom more senior friendly.
Senior Friendly Bathroom Design
As people get older, their mobility naturally lessens and their balance becomes a bit more unstable. Unfortunately, what that means is your bathroom can also become a more dangerous place, where slick surfaces can lead to detrimental slip and fall accidents. Common incidents related to the bathroom include sustaining an injury while getting in or out of the bathtub, slipping while showering, and slipping while trying to leave the shower. By giving seniors a little more support to make simple activities like taking a bath or shower as easy as possible, you can significantly reduce bruises and more significant injuries.
Aside from mobility and stability, seniors also have a harder time grasping smaller objects as joints stiffen with age. You’ll want to account for plumbing fixtures that are easy to use without too much effort. If a wheelchair or walker is needed, you’ll also want to account for extra space that will be needed in the bathroom for maneuverability with such aids.
Senior Bathroom Renovation Checklist
Ideally, you want a senior bathroom to be on the first floor of the home and next to their bedroom, so climbing stairs isn’t needed to access the bathroom. A slip-resistant flooring is best for the hallway between bedroom and bath, such as a textured vinyl or a slip-resistant ceramic tile.
The doorway to the bathroom should be at least 36” wide to accommodate a wheelchair or walker. Another option is to install a pocket door in place of a standard one. Sliding doors allow for easier access from both sides of the door.
The higher the toilet, the better. Ideally a toilet that is between 17-19” above floor level is best. You want a higher toilet so you don’t need to lower so far onto the seat. In addition to a higher seat, you should consider installing a horizontal grab bar on at least one side of the toilet to help assist the user with getting on and off the toilet as needed.
The shower can be one of the most dangerous places for a senior. Make it safer by installing a walk-in shower or walk-in tub so there’s no need to step over the edge of a tub, reducing the risk of slipping and falling.
In addition to changing the design of the tub you should also think about adding in a vertical bar near the entrance, a horizontal bar along the wall, and a vertical bar near the tub faucet to help with standing stability.
If a wheelchair or walker is needed in the shower, a walk in shower may be a better choice, especially with a transfer seat and ample space to accommodate the chair.
Outside of the bathtub/shower area, you should think about whether or not your vanity causes any hindrances to senior users.
Rather than knobs on cabinets and drawers, which require tight grasping, opt for lever handles that are easier to flip open.
A floating vanity may be a good option for those who need a wheelchair. This type of vanity allows someone to sit closer to the sink with their legs underneath the countertop. If this type of vanity is used, choose scald-proof fixtures that won’t allow the water to get so hot that it could burn the user if they happen to brush their legs against the hardware underneath the sink.
Curious about what other options are available for a senior friendly bathroom? Call go2-pros to discuss aging in place upgrades with our bathroom renovation team. We have hundreds of designs for you to choose from with many different customization options for your individual needs.