How to Remodel your Bathroom to increase Accessibility for elderly people
Accidents and injuries which occur within the bathroom are statistically more common amongst elderly people. It is important to consider accessibility options if you are expecting frequent visits from an older person or if you are inviting an older relative to move into your home.
The type of bathroom accessibility options that you will need to install will depend on the mobility level of the person that will be using the bathroom. Some of these improvements will require the help of an experienced trades person while a confident DIY enthusiast could undertake some of the other implementations.
Accessible DIY bathroom improvements
It is important to ensure that your bathroom is well lit if an older person is using it. Eyesight becomes less perfect as people get into their senior years and good lighting can help to prevent accidents. You may consider replacing the current light fixture or swapping the bulbs for new ones.
Grab bar fitting
To ensure that older people can keep steady whilst using the shower or toilet, grab bars offer support whilst using the bathroom. Installation of wall bars should be fitted so that bars are parallel to the ground.
Include a non-slip mat in the shower
A slippy floor can cause serious accidents within the shower and may even be fatal. All slippery surfaces should have a non-slip mat placed on them.
Replace rugs with rubber mats
Bathroom rugs can become slippy due to the soft materials on the backing. All rugs should be removed from bathroom floors or replaced with rubber mats.
Improve door knobs and handles
As people grow older it becomes more difficult to grab hold of smaller handles and knobs. You may need to replace the tap fixtures on the sink to make them more user friendly, swap any twisting light knobs with switches and install larger door handles on any cabinets and the main entrance.
Add a transfer bench
A transfer bench allows an elderly person to sit outside of a bath tub and easily slide over into the bathing area when it becomes too difficult to climb in by themselves.
Accessible bathroom improvements which will require a professional
Create a wider doorway
To make doors accessible for use with scooters, walkers or wheelchairs, they will need to be widened to between 32 and 36 inches.
To ensure that your sink is accessible to someone in a wheelchair, the sink will require raising to between 30 and 34 inches. You will also need to ensure that the sink has enough room below for a wheelchair to fit under. For a non-wheelchair user, you will need to raise the sink above 40 inches to help with elderly people who find it difficult to bend over.
Lay non-slip flooring
To prevent slipping accidents on your bathroom floor, you should replace all marble or glossy tiles with non-slip tiles.
Elevate the toilet height
A standard toilet height may cause problems for an elderly person trying to get up from using it. A plumber can install a taller toilet unit elevating the height by 5 to 7 inches. You may also increase the height of the toilet by adding an elevated plastic seat.
Replace shower controls with a thermostatic shower valve
Thermostatic shower valves prevent the shower handsets and hose from becoming too hot and causing burns.