Bathroom Remodeling for Independent Living
Given the opportunity, most senior citizens would prefer to remain in their own home versus moving into a nursing home or assisted living facility. However, as we age, even some of the simplest tasks get more difficult. Fortunately, with a few easy alterations, the home can remain a safe place.
Elderly residents have the most accidents in their bathrooms. Slippery surfaces can cause falls. Hard tile and sharp cabinet edges can bruise. Keeping safety in mind, here are a few ideas for updating a bathroom for independent living.
Renovating Bathrooms for Independent Living
Stay Safe on Slippery Floors
Because of steam and splashing water, the most dangerous hazard in the bathroom is a slippery floor. Prevent falls before they happen by adding an anti-slip coating to existing flooring. The best solution is to tile the bathroom floor with an anti-skid tile. The rough surface will keep your feet from sliding out from under you – especially inside the walk-in shower or around the bathtub where slips happen most often.
If you prefer not to re-tile the floor, there is a less expensive alternative. Bathmats and non-slip area rugs can absorb moisture. However, be sure to secure them to the floor with rug tape to prevent them from sliding as well.
Grab Bars are Best
Another way to prevent falls is to install sturdy grab bars. They offer support as you move in and out of the shower/tub and use the sink and commode. Install one on the inside wall of the tub at waist height, and one at shoulder height just outside of the tub surround to steady yourself as you step over the lip.
Please note that grab bars are different than towel bars. Grab bars should be attached to wall joists and not just to the drywall. This is to help bear the weight of the person holding it. Also, there are many styles and colors to fit your bathroom décor. Handles can be textured for extra sturdy gripping, too.
Replace the Tub With a Large Shower
Stepping in and out of a bathtub can be dangerous. Consider eliminating the tub entirely and designing a walk-in or wheel-in shower with a curb-less entrance. Add a shower seat for those who prefer to sit and, again, grab bars for extra safety. A detachable showerhead can also make things easier.
Change Handles and Toilets
Another easy fix to getting on and off the commode is to add an elevated toilet seat. Seat extenders are simple to install and relatively inexpensive. You can also replace the toilet with a new “comfort height” model.
For hands weakened by the effects of arthritis, change out twist handle faucets to those with levers instead. For individuals in wheelchairs, there are even foot-controlled devices. Door handles should be changed to levers as well and locks removed to assure safe entrance and exit.
Additional Safety Measures
Be sure that all light bulbs are bright and functioning. Add a nightlight for late night visits. For extra safety, mount a phone in the bathroom for seniors who live alone.
Using a traditional bathroom can become more difficult as we age. But fortunately, there are many things we can do to stay safe. Research the options, match them to your unique needs, and consider these tips to find the perfect solution.