Home Modification: Bathrooms for Elderly

Bathrooms are considered one of the key fall areas for elderly and cause of many fatalities on a yearly basis. This is mainly because bathrooms are not designed or modified to suit their requirements. This is very important aspect to be considered to ensure comfort and safety of elderly.

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We highlight below key areas which should be take care of while designing / modifying bathrooms for elderly. 

  1. Sinks and Lavatories: During designing the lavatory for disable or elderly people, three elements are considered: the clearance beneath the sink, the level of the sink, and the spigot hardware. In addition, to ease the accessibility you can remove the doors along with the cabinet under the sink. An aesthetic curtain beneath the sink can allow access. Use pipe protection or install a box covering the pipes to ward off any burning incidents.
  2. Vanity Top: Let your sink be installed at some height which you can access comfortably. You can customize the height of the sink as per your needs. If the same is used by anyone else also use it the standard height could be 30-34" which is accessible to all. 
  3. Faucets: You should adjust the faucets as per your needs. Faucets with single lever are ideal as they indicate water temperature. Knob-driven hardware should be removed and double levers should be installed. 
  4. Toilets: The ideal seat height should be 18". Several older people sit in squat position. Lowered toilets heights can resolve this issue, but it may not be comfortable for others. A seat design which lifts the feet to an extent can be of help. 
  5. Grab Bars: Grab bars are convenient in toilets. To lift the weight, these bars must be fixed into walls. Grab bars are found in three forms – wall mounted, pivoting and sheltering arms. Keeping in view the requirements and physical capacities of users you can opt for the best fit. The arm grab bar offers support just like the chair arm rest.  Sufficiently raised grab bars are important at some areas where person lose their balance. You can consult the dealer and fix the bars directly in the walls. Screws fixed within tiles or some sheetrock is not strong.
  6. Tubs and Showers: Using tub can be dangerous for semi-ambulatory persons. For making the usage of grab bar comfortable it should be installed in the walls or on the sides of tub. 
  7. Shower/Tub Controversy: If you like shower bath you should fix the right shower unit. Sitting in a hot tub can also be comforting after a tiring day. The choice is entirely yours.
  8. Shower or Tub Accessories: The most ideal choices are showers with single lever along with tub controls. Sliding doors can be interfering when you are shifting to the tub seat leaving wheelchair. So, hang a shower curtain along the tub when leaving a wheelchair and shifting to tub. 
  9. Shower Units Placements: There are two basic types of showers: transfer and roll-in showers. A person using a wheelchair can easily move from the shower location to the any other areas of the bathroom. To use transfer showers you need to shift from wheelchair to the shower location. In addition, hand-held showers are also available.
  10. Floor Surfaces: The best option to avoid slippery walking areas is non-slippery adhesive strips. A slip-avoiding zone, like non-slippery tile or carpeting, is considered to be easily acceptable. 
  11. Better Lighting: It's important to illuminate the area near the lavatory for comfort and personal grooming. Direct light creates special trouble for those individuals who don glasses. It is ideal to cover light sources to generate soft and indirect light. 
  12. Avoiding Electrical Shock: Electrical appliances like hair dryers and electric shavers should have ground fault interrupted circuits. It will eliminate the chances of any shock. You should also fix GFI outlets to ensure they are rightly fixed and examine the circuits frequently for its operability. 
  13. Storage: You can also fix cabinets for keeping medicines or for any such items. Ensure the items you frequently require are available handy. 

These are some of the suggested options and remedies ideal for bathrooms for elderly. In case your bathroom do not adhere to the above, it is time to modify it before it leads to any unfortunate incident.