Are you considering a bathroom remodeling for yourself or your elderly loved one? Making the bathroom safe and accessible for seniors may involve a few minor alterations or additions, or it may mean a more involved process. Important areas of concern when creating an elderly accessible bathroom are the toilet, the shower and the flooring. Whether doing the remodeling yourself or hiring a professional contractor, focus on the following:
1. An Elderly Accessible Toilet
Many elderly individuals have mobility issues or trouble raising from a seated position. If you or your elderly loved one find it difficult using an ordinary toilet seat, a simple alteration may make it safe and secure. One solution is to purchase an elevated toilet seat (also known as a toilet seat riser) at the home improvement center or hardware store.
This easy-to-install device generally adds at least a few inches of height to most standard toilet seats, making it easier to stand from a seated position. A toilet seat riser may come with detachable "arms" or handles for extra support. Some models are constructed with a movable hinge, allowing users to raise it as needed or lower the seat to the standard position.
If a toilet seat riser is not necessary, or if you simply need a support system for stability, you might consider installing a support frame around the toilet. A folding toilet frame is portable and may easily be removed for traveling. Look for a toilet frame that requires no assembly and includes padded armrests for comfort.
2. User-Friendly Bathtub/Shower
Safety in the tub and shower is a major concern for the elderly. It's a good idea to install some non-slip rubberized mats or strips inside. As an added precaution, install bathtub and shower grab bars or guard rails.
Installing a flexible shower head is another good idea for a bathroom makeover. This hand-held device may make it easier to manipulate and grasp than a standard shower head. Look for one with an elongated or extendable shower bar and extra long hose to reach every area of the body. The side bar may also include a basket for holding soap and shampoo.
Do you find it difficult to stand in the shower for a period of time? Consider using a bathtub transfer bench or shower seat. Sitting in the tub or shower may make bathing easier, especially for those with mobility issues or arthritis. Your tub and shower seat should feature adjustable height, non-slip feet, drainage holes in the seat and a corrosion resistant aluminum frame.
When it becomes difficult to use an ordinary bathtub or shower, a walk-in tub and shower combination might be the ideal solution. A walk in tub typically includes a low threshold, making it easier to get in and out. Built-in seating and stability bars are almost always standard. Inward and outward door openings are often available as well.
3. Safe Flooring for Seniors
While the bathroom floor should be functional and easy to maintain, safety should be a top priority. Slip-resistant vinyl or rubber flooring are a few options to consider. Cork is another good choice.
Benefits of vinyl: Because vinyl flooring is often resistant to slips and falls and it is easy to maintain, this should be a main consideration. You'll also find various patterns and colors to choose from in vinyl flooring. You might want to install sheet vinyl rather than tiles, as it is less likely to curl under constant use and exposure to moisture.
Rubber flooring advantages: Seamless rubber squares means less of a slipping hazard. Also, the rubberized material will retain its traction when exposed to moisture and humidity. Because it is highly resistant to moisture, the growth of mold and mildew is eliminated.
The convenience of cork: Cork flooring is comfortable, durable and naturally resistant to mildew growth. It's also an easy-to-maintain choice for the elderly.
When remodeling a bathroom for elderly accessibility, you don't need to spend a fortune. In many cases, a few modifications may be all that's needed to make life simpler and safer. Consult the experts if you have installation questions.