How to design an ideal bathroom for elderly people
As we age our needs change and it’s important to ensure that our environment evolves with us. Subtle changes can ensure elderly relatives quality of life remains unburdened by challenges that our changing needs pose.
The frequent reports of bathroom accidents have mostly occurred in tight and slippery places, and in many cases the victims of an accident in the bathroom is an elderly person. Due to the natural reduction of balancing, reflex, and muscle mass, the bathroom may be the first thing you will notice that becomes challenging with increasing age.
This article shows all of the advice from Bathroom Planet on everything to consider when designing the bathroom that will be safe. When it’s your grandparent, parent, uncle, or aunt, you need to provide a safe and comfortable modern bathroom to avoid any major accidents.
Maintain a Clear Minimalist Space
Moving the essential items like shower gels, shampoo, soap, lotions, drugs, and toothpaste within easy reach will help avoid bending down or stretching to reach the items. Having items not in easy reach can be the cause of slipping or falls.
Focus on decluttering and reorganising the bathroom. Make sure to keep the essential items used daily and easily accessible. Most importantly, throw away the barely used or never used products.
Moreover, you can mount the shampoo and soap on the wall to reduce clutter in the shower. The beneficial point of it is they are easily refillable.
Prevent Slippage with Antislip Mats and Tiles
Most falls happen when getting in and out of the bathtub or shower. It’s a slippery area exposed to a lot of soap and water. That is why you should use an anti-slip mat in the exposed area and front of the entrance or next to the basin.
If you are making a bathroom from scratch or updating the bathroom, then install slip-resistant tiles. You can set up this for the entire bathroom floor or just the shower. It aids safety to elderly people to prevent slippage.
Also, installing the non-slip adhesive tapes to basin edges will prevent hand slippage. It is best to add it on the edges just in case they hold on to it for balance. You can also use these tape strips to visually separate slippery spots.
You can also add anti-slip matts inside your shower or opt for non-slip shower trays or baths when installing a bath or shower for added grip.
Add a Comfort Height Toilet or Wall Hung Model
You could add a comfort height toilet to your bathroom and reduce the distance that an elderly relative will need to travel to get to the toilet – great relief for tired joints. This style of toilet can be found in back to wall or close coupled bathrooms.
Alternatively you can choose a wall hung version that can be mounted at any height for maximum comfort.
There are also seats that can lower someone to the toilet and raise them after if they have very impaired mobility. They can take their weight off their feet by sitting on those adjustable toilet seats. Lifting the height of the toilet terminates the elders’ requirement to squat. 16 to 18 inches of height for those adjustable seats are recommended.
If you have to share the same toilet as your elder family member, buy a toilet seat that can be put on and off whenever they want to use the toilet. For extra safety, include locking clamps and brackets to the commode. That will keep the seat in its place and will not cause imbalance when elders are getting up or sitting down.
Install a Walk In Shower or Bathtubs
As we age joints can become more stiff making stepping in or out of a showering area more challenging. This is where a walk in solution shines. With no barrier to just walking straight in you can easily just walk in. This is also appropriate for those in a wheelchair easily transitioning from their sitting position to the shower seats, which will be greatly beneficial to them and their caregiver.
Walk-in bathtubs are an alternative option that you can access without any effort rather than the traditional tubs. These can be a pre-built unit, or you can later install them to make the bathtubs easier to use. Installing the unit can be more beneficial as it can be built for senior care.
Install Grab Bars and Bath Seats
Thoughtfully placed grab bars can make your bathroom safe for any older person. They will support their weight on the grab bars as they are inclined with the wall. Grab bars are attached to the wall with suction cups or metal studs.
Installing grab bars right next to the shower can help them get in and out easily without any effort. Also, you can install grab bars by the commode to let them be at ease to help them maintain their sitting position.
The installation of a bath seat can help your loved elder family member get in and out of the bath safely. Elders will easily access the tub without the risk of falling when taking a bath. Bath seats can assist them if they can not support their weight.
There are electric or mechanical designs available for bath seats. You can get one and retain your older family member’s independence and mobility, which will improve their overall safety and let them have a comforting bath.
Install Right Lighting and Colour
Overhead lighting can brighten up your bathroom. This help older people have greater vision seeing potential hazards and staying safe. It casts shadows and does not light up certain areas like under the cabinets, behind the shower curtain, etc.
To get perfect bathroom lighting, you need to incorporate multiple lights. Place separate lights next to the sink, mirror, shower, and entryway that leads into the bathroom.
When adding lights to your bathroom you also need to consider late night trips to the bathroom. Adding motion-activated ambient lighting can help you find your way without having to switch on all of the lights fully waking you up.
Finally, different bathroom spots should be separated with contrasting colours. Choose matte colours as high gloss paints can confuse eyesight. Following these simple steps will help elderly people increase visual perception.
A Few Essential Points to Improve Bathroom Safety
- Set up an emergency phone and make sure it is in a reachable position and waterproof.
- Install outward swinging doors so that when an accident occurs where the elderly person falls near the door, this will give easy access.
- Mark the hot and cold watermark clearly to the handles so that they do not burn themselves or get cold.
- Ensure that there is no hump or lip at the entrance that needs to be stepped over to go to the bathroom.
- There are many bath gadgets, especially bath cushions, that are great when you are lying in the bath.
- Place a tap turner into the bathroom for those who do not have any sufficient strength to easily use taps.
- Finally, do ensure that the bathroom is clutter-free and has enough space to walk around.
These following simple and easy changes in the bathroom will greatly reduce the risk of accidents and give older adults peace and comfort. Most importantly, these small steps will provide them with safety, confidence and live independently in their home.