Each year, about three million seniors arrive in emergency departments for a fall injury. Many of these falls happen in your own home, specifically the bathroom.
As we get older, simple tasks become even harder for us to do. While falling is not a normal part of aging, specific age-related impairments can increase the chance of a fall, including poor eyesight and balance issues.
The bathroom is already a dangerous area for the very young and elderly because water can cause it to be very slippery. You must include some critical things in your senior friendly bathroom designs to ensure it is a safe place.
What Should You Include in Senior Friendly Bathroom Designs?
Creating a safe place in the bathroom will help older people gain more freedom and confidence to continue doing things independently. Below is a list of nine things to include in your senior friendly bathroom.
1. Grab Rail
Grab rails, or grab bars, are essential to creating an elderly friendly bathroom. They are bars that help the elderly move around the room easier.
Grab rails are typically installed on one or both sides of the toilet to help seniors lower themselves and get back up again. They are also commonly found on the outside of the shower stall to help them step in safely. Once inside the shower, there should be one or more bars so they can steady themselves.
You can learn more about proper grab bar placement in this blog post.
2. Walk-in Shower
When you are updating bathrooms for seniors, walk-in showers will be more beneficial than tubs. Walk-in showers are more accessible for the elderly to gain access to while remaining independent. Tubs are often too slippery and difficult for seniors to lower themselves.
Walk-in showers also have the same floor as the rest of the bathroom, which means no steps are in the way.
While you are updating the bathroom, make sure to install a removable shower head for those with mobility issues. A bench inside the shower is a must to prevent falls. Those who cannot stand for long periods can sit down safely and use the removable shower head.
3. Adjust the Height of the Toilet
Typical toilets come in one height, which is okay for adults without mobility issues, but unsafe and difficult for many seniors. Raising the toilet seat by getting a thicker seat or installing a brand new raised toilet can make a huge difference.
4. Rugs and Anti-Slip Mats
As we have mentioned before, bathrooms are naturally slippery areas. You will want to make sure you put anti-slip mats and rugs down each place you can to avoid falls.
There should be an anti-slip mat right outside the shower, as that is the most dangerous spot. There should also be either a rug or an anti-slip rug by the toilet and the sink.
There should be enough of them that help the elderly move around the room comfortably without slipping. Look at the back of these rugs every so often to make sure they are not flaky or worn. If they are, replace them promptly to avoid any accidents.
5. Dispensing Soap
One thing that is a must in bathrooms for the elderly is dispensing soap. These are containers that mount to the wall inside of the shower and over the sink. You can find some for the soap, shampoo, and conditioner.
Dropping the soap and having to bend to pick it up can be painful or almost impossible for some. Having dispensing soaps in the shower and next to the sink can help seniors confidently shower and wash their hands.
There should be plenty of proper lighting in the bathroom. Some seniors have poor eyesight and are already unable to see as well. Although seniors need more light, they are also more sensitive to glare, so they must be well shielded too.
7. Easy Access
Consider if the room needs to be wheelchair or walker accessible when creating senior friendly bathroom designs. There should not be any steps in the bathroom, as these are not safe or logical for wheelchairs.
Doors to the bathroom and the shower should either be sliding doors or doors on a swinging hinge. These are easier to maneuver and to take off from the outside in case of an emergency.
Door locks should be present for privacy, but they should be easy enough to break from the outside as well. Emergency access should always be a high priority when designing bathrooms for the elderly.
8. Lever Faucets
Faucets in some households are older and can be difficult for seniors to operate. Installing lever faucets is a great feature to include so they can easily wash their hands.
Another great feature is to install a push button and a more accessible lever in the shower. Some showers can be difficult to change between the hot and cold settings, so installing a more accessible lever will alleviate any confusion or difficulty.
It would be best if you considered the person’s mobility when deciding where to put the storage. Some may not reach or bend down to get to the typical storage spaces in the bathroom.
Try hanging wall storage where the person can easily reach, so they do not have to attempt to bend down or stretch too far. Shower caddies should be hung in the shower at the proper height to fit the particular person’s needs.
Senior Friendly Bathroom Designs Can Be Stylish and Safe
Safety of the person should be the number one concern when planning senior friendly bathroom designs. The list above is a great place to start when considering what to include in the new bathroom design.
If you are interested in more great home renovation tips and ideas, check out our blog for other helpful articles.