As we age, navigating the bathroom can become increasingly difficult. Slippery floors, cluttered countertops, and uncomfortable fixtures are some of the hazards that make bathrooms dangerous for seniors.
However, with some thoughtful upgrades and modifications, you can transform your bathroom into a safe and senior-friendly space. The right improvements will enable your elderly loved ones to comfortably and confidently use the facilities while also reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
In this article, we will explore 7 of the best bathroom remodels to consider for aging adults. Read on to discover the top bathroom modifications to make if you have elderly residents in your home.
1. Install Grab Bars and Handrails
One of the most important senior bathroom upgrades is installing grab bars and handrails. Properly positioned grab bars provide stability when sitting down or standing up from the toilet. They also serve as handholds when stepping into and out of the tub or shower.
Grab bars should be installed on both sides of the toilet, as well as along the shower walls and inside the tub area. Look for bars in contrasting colors to the wall, as this helps visually impaired seniors see and reach for support. Sturdy handrails running along the walls also provide steadiness when moving about the bathroom.
For optimal safety and support, it’s best to hire a professional to properly position and install the grab bars. You can ask family and friends if they have recommendations for reliable bathroom remodeling experts in your area. An internet search using keywords like Bathroom Remodeling experts near me is another easy way to find qualified professionals. They can ensure the bars can hold sufficient weight and are anchored into studs behind the wall.
2. Improve Lighting
Dim lighting and shadows can make navigating the bathroom hazardous for aging adults. Increase brightness with both natural and artificial light sources to reduce the risk of trips and falls. First, maximize natural light by removing any window treatments that block sunlight.
Supplement with ample overhead ceiling lights, replacing any low-wattage bulbs with brighter equivalents of at least 60 watts. Also, consider additional lighting like a nightlight or motion-activated under-cabinet lighting.
Task lighting is also essential above the shower, sink, and mirror areas. Install fixtures like recessed cans, track lighting, or vanity lights. Light switches should be easy to access and rocker or touch light switches are ideal.
Having multiple switches in the bathroom allows lights to be turned on gradually, giving seniors’ eyes time to adjust. Proper lighting illuminates obstacles and makes all areas of the bathroom easy to navigate.
3. Increase Accessibility with a Walk-in Shower
Stepping over a bathtub wall can be nearly impossible for some older adults. Replacing the existing tub with a walk-in shower is an excellent upgrade for boosting bathroom accessibility. With no barrier to stepping over, seniors can easily and safely enter the shower space.
Another option is installing a low-threshold shower pan with a gradual slope into the shower area. Or, have an existing tub retrofitted into a walk-in shower with a customized door. Be sure to include a fold-down seat inside the shower as well.
The best walk-in showers feature grab bars, slip-resistant floors, adjustable shower heads, and easy-access controls. A hand-held shower head with a hose makes washing easier for those with limited mobility. This simple swap removes a hazardous obstacle and makes bathing much safer.
4. Select a User-Friendly Toilet:
Toilets are used multiple times daily, so installing bathroom hardware your senior can comfortably use is essential. Elongated bowl toilets provide additional room and support versus a standard round bowl. The added length gives seniors leverage and balance when sitting down or standing up.
Chair-height toilets are toilet bowls positioned several inches higher off the floor to reduce bending. You can also use a raised toilet seat kit that fits over an existing toilet to increase its height. Simple add-ons like toilet safety frames provide handles for support and stability when standing or sitting. An occupational therapist can recommend ideal toilet heights and modifications tailored to your senior’s needs.
5. Increase Floor Traction
Slippery bathroom floors greatly increase the chances of dangerous and injurious falls. Fortunately, there are easy ways to boost traction and make floors less slick. Applying textured strips or non-slip decals to tile floors, shower bases, and tub bottom surfaces creates friction. These materials have gritty surfaces and adhesive backing for quick DIY installation.
You can also replace existing bath mats and rugs with non-slip versions designed to stay put on smooth floors. Use rubber-backed mats outside the tub and shower and next to sinks. Ensure any rugs have non-slip rug pads underneath to prevent sliding.
Also check that bath mats are machine washable, as laundering helps maintain their grip. Removing hazards like clutter, water puddles, and soap buildup also cuts down on slip risks.
6. Declutter and Organize
As we get older, bending down and reaching up becomes increasingly strenuous. Minimize strain by ensuring your bathroom’s contents are organized and within easy reach for seniors. This requires decluttering and keeping countertops clear of anything that isn’t frequently used. Stow away rarely needed items to open up space.
Install pull-out shelving, floating shelves, and other easy-to-access storage to accommodate regularly used toiletries and medications. Keeping items in easy-to-manage locations reduces the need to bend and stretch.
Ensure your senior can easily reach their toothbrush, hairbrush, and other essentials. Task lighting inside medicine cabinets and under cabinets also helps seniors see clearly when retrieving items. Optimizing organization removes clutter hazards and makes bathrooms more user-friendly.
7. Widen Doorways and Clear Space
Tight quarters in the bathroom make moving around difficult, especially for those using mobility aids. Expanding doorways to at least 32 inches wide enables wheelchairs and walkers to easily maneuver through the space. It also allows multiple people to access the bathroom at once. To accommodate a wheelchair turning radius, you’ll need a clear space of at least 60 inches in diameter.
Adjustment of plumbing or fixtures may also be needed to open up floor space. Removing obstacles like freestanding cabinets gives seniors sufficient room to navigate. Widening areas for entry and movement limits the risks of bumping into walls and furnishings. This allows elderly residents to safely and comfortably use all areas of the freshly upgraded bathroom.
Transforming your bathroom into a safer, senior-friendly space is an important remodeling project for any home with aging residents. The right renovations reduce hazards, boost accessibility, and maintain independence for elderly adults. By implementing these bathroom updates, you can provide necessary assistance and give your seniors peace of mind.