For most people, bathrooms are a pleasant place to relax, unwind, and have a good soak in the tub. But for seniors, they’re actually very dangerous. All that moisture and water on the floor creates slippery surfaces, ripe for falls. Lips and thresholds on the bath and shower units are a trip hazard. And accessibility can be a significant issue too.
The good news, though, is that making a bathroom “senior-friendly” is way easier than you might think. Check out these tips.
Transition To Lever Taps
If you’re fit and healthy, you probably don’t think twice about the mechanisms on your faucets to turn the water on and off. But if you’re a senior, it can be a significant issue. Twisting a tap when you are frail or have arthritis can be a painful and humiliating experience.
For that reason, many seniors (or families who share bathrooms with them), fit lever taps. These work on the physical principle of “moments.” The longer the lever arm, the easier it is to turn on the tap and put it on the right setting.
Fit Grab Bars And Rails
Grab bars and rails are a stock feature of OAP bathrooms in stores, restaurants, hospitals, and care homes, but they’re not yet mainstream in private residences. They can, however, be a lifeline for people who want to maintain their independence when going to the loo.
Place handrails in any location where a person has to sit down, stand up, or step over an obstacle. Top spots include next to the toilet, the bathroom, shower, and the main door.
Install A “Comfort Height” Toilet
Comfort height toilets are a special kind of lavatory that makes it easier to get from the standing position to sitting, and then back again. Mostly, this means that they tend to be a few inches taller than your standard loo. Other than that, they work in the same way.
Build A Walk-In Shower
The threshold between the shower unit and the rest of the bathroom is a significant trip hazard for seniors. It is all too easy to get a foot caught.
For those in wheelchairs, the raised lip is also a physical impediment.
Walk-in showers, therefore, rethink bathroom design. Instead of creating a room and then installing a shower unit, you essentially build a wet room. The entire space becomes the shower cubicle, complete with contoured flooring and drain.
Walk-in showers that use pvc shower panels also offer a host of aesthetic advantages. Every part of the bathroom looks continuous, as though it all fits together.
Lay Non-Slip Bath Mats
As we discussed in the introduction, bathroom floors are a substantial hazard for seniors. Surface water increases the risk of slipping considerably.
A senior-friendly bathroom, therefore, should offer non-slip mats in high-risk areas, such as by the shower, the bath, and the toilet. Seniors need to feel that they are safe on their feet at all times.
Non-slip mats are a cost-effective solution if your budget doesn’t allow you to fit walk-in showers. Putting them down in the bathtub can substantially reduce the risk to which you expose the elderly in your home.
Use A Detachable Shower Heads
While active people will move their bodies under the showerhead to wash, seniors with mobility issues can struggle to do this. Moving around while in the shower is more of a challenge than you might think. For that reason, a lot of people install detachable showerheads. Seniors can then simply pick up the head and then move it to the part of their body that they want to wash.
On a related note, it is also essential to safeguard your shower unit against any sudden temperature changes. Remember, seniors with mobility issues don’t have the luxury of just hopping out the way if the water temperature becomes uncomfortable.
Install Easy-To-Clean Walls
Wall cladding technology has moved on leaps and bounds in the last few years. In the past, your only options were tiles, paint and wallpaper. And none of them was particularly easy to clean.
Today, though, you can get PVC wall cladding. This plastic-based material offers all of the aesthetic advantages of tiles, but none of the drawbacks. For seniors, the main benefit is the fact that it is so easy to clean. All you have to do is wipe it down. No scrubbing.
Furthermore, it is also a far warmer material than tiles, making it more comfortable for older people who are particularly sensitive to the cold.
So, in summary, creating a senior-friendly bathroom requires a little investment, but it can help to preserve independence.