Remodeling the Bathroom for Seniors

Q: Mom and dad are moving in with us. We are planning on remodeling our bathrooms with them in mind, plus for our own present/future use. Any tips?

A:Most people don’t realize that for seniors the bathroom is probably the most important room of the home. Remodeling a bathroom can make life not only safer, but also more enjoyable. Upgrading helps maintain independent living for the elderly, plus it’s an overall wise investment, given that anyone can experience temporary disabilities, such as surgery or broken bones.

Switch to an ADA-compliant faucet. Some faucet handles require a surprising amount of force to operate, and knobs can be difficult to twist.

Try an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant single lever faucet for easy on-and-off operation without the need to grip. This faucet has an adjustable hot limit safety stop that helps reduce scalding.

Try a taller toilet. Standard toilets have a bowl height of about 15 inches. Many models now are an inch and a half higher. These taller commodes make sitting down and getting back up less stressful on the body.

Think about accessible storage. Keeping bathing and grooming accessories neatly stowed out of the way will greatly reduce the chance of trips and falls.

Make it easy on the eyes. High-gloss paints and tiles can produce an uncomfortable glare, so try semi-gloss or matte finishes for better visibility.

Choosing wall and floor colors or patterns that contrast is another great way to increase visual perception of space and help older adults feel more confident as they move about the room.

Replace an unused bathtub with a walk-in shower. Holding on to the ability to bathe independently is key to aging gracefully and with dignity. A tub/shower unit may be uncomfortably high for the elderly and disabled to step over, and too low to sit down into for bathing.

Provide a spa-like walk-in tub. Why shouldn’t Mom have her own home spa? The greatest generation is also the “bathing generation.” Installing a walk-in bathtub or shower system with a built-in seat brings back a measure of independence in self-care. Many walk-in tubs are designed to fit perfectly in the space of a conventional tub.

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