Aging in place is “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level”. Shakespeare Home Improvement Co. is an expert in the field of aging in place. We have a great deal of experience designing and remodeling homes for seniors. This includes aging in place bathroom remodeling.
It is never too early to begin modifying your home. The main difficulty is knowing what you’ll need as you get older. Before beginning any projects, it is important to consider all preexisting conditions, and determine how they might affect you as you age.
General Bathroom Remodel Ideas for Aging in Place
Bathroom accessibility is one of the most important factors to take into consideration when remodeling or designing a bathroom. It is essential to have a bathroom on the first floor/main floor of the home. That way you do not need to go up and down the stairs every time to use the bathroom.
If you do not already have a bathroom on your first floor, Shakespeare can help you add a bathroom anywhere. Maybe converting an existing room into a bathroom won’t work for you. Another option is to build an addition on to your home that features a full bathroom.
Maneuverability throughout the bathroom is something else that needs to be considered – especially when it comes to using a cane, walker, or wheelchair to get around. Therefore, the bathroom will need to be large enough to accommodate a walker or the turning radius of a wheelchair, as well as enough space to maneuver around and access the sink, toilet, and bathtub/shower.
If your current bathroom is not large enough to accommodate a walker or the room may need to be rearranged or expanded by moving a wall to create more space. The doorway might also need to be widened to accommodate a walker or wheelchair.
Not only is the bathroom one of the most used rooms in our homes, it is also one of the most dangerous. According to the National Institute on Aging, more than one in three seniors fall every year. 80% of these falls take place in the bathroom.
If you live alone, any type of accident or injury in the bathroom can prove devastating and deadly if you’re unable to call for help.
Some simple ways to enhance your safety in the bathroom are:
- Taking your cell phone into the bathroom with you OR installing a phone in the bathroom so that you can call for help if you need it.
- Wearing a medical alert system so that you can notify someone that you need help.
- Arranging for daily check-ins with family, friends, or neighbors.
- Installing grab bars and handrails – especially around the toilet and in the bathtub/shower.
- Adding a thermostatic valve or anti-scald controls in the shower/bathtub and at the sink.
- Installing a nonslip, textured flooring throughout the bathroom.
- Removing any rugs from the bathroom as rugs are a tripping hazard.
- If you want a rug in the bathroom, make sure it has a low pile and is held down with anti-slip tape.
- A well-lit bathroom is a safer bathroom – consider installing additional lights throughout the bathroom, including in the shower.
- Install nightlights or motion activated lights in the bathroom to help with visibility during late night bathroom trips.
Bathtub and Shower
Overall, about two-thirds of accidental injuries that happen in the bathroom are a result of slipping and falling while getting into the bathtub/shower, while taking a bath or shower, or while getting out of the bathtub/shower — which makes sense, because bathtubs, showers, and the floor can be slippery when wet.
Stepping over the sidewall of a standard bathtub to get in and out becomes more difficult as we get older, and our balance, mobility, agility, and flexibility begin to diminish.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of replacing your standard bathtub, there are multiple ways to make your existing bathtub safer:
- Moving the shower and tub controls closer to the entry point so they can be reached from outside the shower.
- Installing grab bars in and around the bathtub to provide stability and help prevent slip and fall accidents.
- Install tub grips to the side of the bathtub to help with getting in and out of the tub.
- Installing an adjustable showerhead to suit the height and position of the user.
- Using a non-skid bathmat.
- Applying a nonslip coating to the bottom of the bathtub.
- Adding a movable/removable stool, bench, or chair in the bathtub that can be adjusted as needed. This will help with getting in and out of the shower, and also relieve the strain of having to stand while taking a shower.
- Installing a permanent, built-in seat or bench in the bathtub to relieve the strain of standing while showering.
- Adding a shower transfer bench to help make getting in and out of the tub easier.
- Installing a shelf or niche in the shower for soap, shampoo, and towels.
One way to remodel your bathroom is by replacing your standard bathtub with a walk-in bathtub. Walk-in bathtubs have high side walls and a door. The door closes with watertight seal. Walk-in bathtubs are typically shorter than a standard bathtub, so they will take up less space and will leave room for a separate shower. Most models come with built-in grab bars and built-in seats.
Curbless Shower or Zero Threshold Shower
Curbless showers or zero threshold showers are exactly what they sound like – a shower without a curb or threshold. The lack of a curb or threshold helps reduce the risk of tripping and falling when getting in and out of the shower. It also makes the shower wheelchair and walker accessible. Other safety measures that can be installed into the shower are grab bars and a built-in bench or seat. A non-slip floor is also crucial in a curbless shower/zero threshold shower.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 33,000 people a year are injured while using the toilet. For people over the age of 65, most of those injuries occur while getting on or off the toilet. One way to increase safety around the toilet, and help with sitting down and standing up, is to install grab bars or handrails around the toilet. If there is nowhere to install grab bars or handrails, a toilet safety frame is a great alternative.
Another option is to replace your toilet with one that is ADA compliant. The seats on the comfort height toilets are typically between 17” and 19” off the floor, and the additional height can help make it easier to sit down and stand up. If you do not want to replace your toilet, there are elevated toilet seat add-on that can be attached to your current seat that will add a few extra inches of height.
Sink, Vanity, and Cabinets
As you get older and develop arthritis or other hand mobility issues, it may become harder to grasp knobs. Replacing faucet knobs with lever handles will help make using the sink easier. Also, replacing doorknobs and cabinet knobs with levers or handles will also help anyone with hand mobility issues.
If you or someone in your home uses a wheelchair, you’ll want to make sure that the bathroom sink is accessible by having a space underneath to allow the wheelchair to roll up to the sink. This might mean removing the vanity, and having a wall hung sink. Other things to keep in mind for someone who uses a wheelchair is to make sure that the person can see their reflection in the mirror, as well as reach everything from the faucet handles to the cabinets and from the counters to the shelves.
Why Shakespeare Home Improvement Co. is Your Choice for Aging in Place in Lancaster County
Aging in place bathroom remodeling is an option everyone should have. We here at Shakespeare are experts in the field of aging in place. The owner of the company has over 20 years of personal experience in redesigning and renovating his home to be an environment that accommodates a mobility challenged person. Now, he wants to share his experience with others to create a safe and happy environment for them as well.
Contact us at Shakespeare for a free consultation if you’re interested in remodeling or renovating your bathroom so that you can age in place.