The Accessible Home: Bathroom Safety
Many Americans choose to age in their own homes where they are familiar with their environment. People of all ages value their ability to live independently and remodeling a bathroom in preparation for home healthcare or retirement will ensure convenience and safety.
Here are some things that homeowners can do to adapt their bathrooms and improve accessibility so it is safer for anyone with limited mobility or physical impairments to use:
Remodel the bathroom on the main floor. If you have a house with multiple levels, consider remodeling the bathroom which is located on the same level as the bedroom of the physically impaired person who will be using it. Having to climb stairs every time they need to use the bathroom is challenging for individuals with limited mobility, and presents an increased risk.
Provide extra space in the bathroom. Make sure there is enough room in the bathroom to move a wheelchair around. Plan for extended periods of time when the physically-impaired person will need a wheelchair, a walking frame or cane, with doorways set to at least 32 inches wide. And ensure that there is enough space to position a wheelchair next to the toilet, bath or shower, to enable a safe and easy transfer.
Stick with non-slip floors. Non-slip tiles are a must to prevent slipping and tripping on the bathroom floor. Loose rugs can be hazardous so stick with non-slip materials.
Make tubs and showers more accessible. Consider a customized bath wet area. Walk-in tubs are a great solution for the physically impaired, and older bath tubs can easily be replaced with a walk-in bathtub. Consider having a seating area in the shower so an individual does not have to remain standing the entire time while showering. And be sure that the tub and shower surfaces are non-slip as well.
Add grab bars. Using towel rails as grab bars is a major safety risk as they will not support a person. Instead, install grab bars following manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Having grab bars next to the bath, shower and toilet are critical to help support someone when they move around the bathroom.
Lighting is important. Make sure you have ample lighting in the bathroom with a minimal amount of glare.
Remember an elevated toilet seat. People with mobility impairments often find it difficult to stand up from a low-set toilet. Adapting to an elevated toilet seat is helpful and reduces the stress of sitting and standing. Wheelchair users will also find that a wide toilet seat is beneficial, as they can then rely on a lateral sliding transfer to move from the wheelchair to the toilet seat and back.
Consider extra accessories. Properly locating things like soap dishes, shaving stands and shower caddies will make using the bathroom more convenient and safe. Having your professional bathroom installer advise you on where to install accessories will eliminate the need to stretch or reach for soap or shaving cream, minimizing the risk of falling.
Use low-maintenance materials. When you remodel your bathroom, consider using modern materials that are easy to clean, are mildew-resistant, and have a lifetime guarantee. There are many available options for colors, patterns, and styles.
Bathroom remodeling is a timely and cost-effective solution for homeowners who need to adapt their bathroom for safety and convenience while at the same time increasing a home’s value. The work may appear to be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. You may choose to hire an outside company to create a fully customized bathroom with minimal difficulty in as little as one day. A good way to start is by contacting Pace Medical Equipment & Supplies for home accessibility solutions. Our courteous, knowledgeable staff of well trained professionals provide one on one personal service. They will answer your questions and assist you in determining the proper modifications that will best meet your needs for safety, comfort and convenience.