Aging in place bathrooms make it easier for older adults to use the space without assistance. Bathroom remodeling for aging-in-place layouts is centered on accessibility. You want to ensure there’s enough floor space to move around the bathroom comfortably.
With small bathrooms, you might have to remove unnecessary fixtures. First-floor bathrooms are easier to access for those suffering from arthritis or limited mobility issues.
Why Senior Friendly Bathroom Renovation Is Worth It
As a person ages, they might experience poor vision, imbalance, and various health complications. You want to make bathroom accessibility easy. Standard bathroom designs do not provide the same features where ease and mobility are concerned.
A California study shows that most seniors aged 90+ desire to age in place. It can be made possible with some in-home assistance and renovations. Here are a few design upgrade suggestions for an aging-in-place bathroom.
8 Aging In Place Bathroom Remodel Ideas
1. Walk-In Tub
Installing a walk-in tub means one less obstacle for those who use it. Walk-in tubs with low thresholds are ideal for older people. Kohler walk-in tubs have a step-in height of 3 inches. American Standard walk-in tubs have an entry of 2 inches and are wheelchair accessible.
Kohler and American Standard tubs have chromotherapy lights and hydrotherapy features. The tubs assist in easing pain from an injury or arthritis. An older person with limited mobility could use a walk-in tub with a shower. A hand-held shower is more manageable and, in most cases, arthritis-friendly.
When taking care of a bariatric patient, consider getting a bariatric tub. Kohler and American Standard tubs have wide doors and enough space for a bariatric patient. These companies offer in-home consultations to determine if the tub will fit your existing bathroom space.
2. Add Grab Bars
Grab bars are an inexpensive bathroom addition. Most high-end walk-in tubs come with built-in grab bars. Place grab bars at the entrance of showers, bathtubs, and next to the toilet. They assist an older person when moving around the bathroom and using the toilet. For small bathroom renovations, you can fix a vertical pole at an accessible middle point.
3. Wheelchair Accessible Door
The elderly often use wheelchairs, walkers, or commode chairs. When doing a senior bathroom makeover, widen the door to accommodate any mobility device. An ADA-compliant door is at least 32 inches wide. Walk-in tubs from brands like Kohler or American Standard are also wheelchair accessible.
A person using a wheelchair should reach the door hardware and open it without difficulty. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recommends using door lever handles since they’re easy to operate with just one hand. There should be enough turning space, whether the door swings outwards or towards the person.
4. Install ADA-Compliant Toilet
Replace your standard toilet with an ADA-compliant model. ADA-compliant toilet seats are raised for those with disabilities. When you buy an ADA toilet seat, make sure it has an ADA label on it. The seat height should be 17-18 inches and 60 inches wide.
During installation, check that there’s enough clearance for transfer between the wheelchair and toilet. Horizontal grab bars can be installed next to the seat for additional support. Flip-up grab bars are also good if you have limited space.
5. Consider a Curbless Shower
A curbless shower has no threshold. It’s easy for older people to access, even those in a wheelchair. The shower walls are transparent so that an older person can see clearly. Curbless showers are aesthetically pleasing and add to the value of a home.
However, a curbless shower may not be suitable for all bathrooms. You’ll need to redo the floor so that there is a slope. The slope prevents water from flowing out to the rest of the bathroom.
6. Proper Lighting
To avoid any bathroom accidents, install enough lighting fixtures in the bathroom. LED lights are brighter than incandescent bulbs and thus appropriate for bathrooms.
When choosing light bulbs for your bathroom, go for lumens similar to the outside bulbs. That way, transitioning to the bathroom lights will not cause eye strain. Using motion sensor lights is also a good idea to avoid reaching for a switch.
7. Lower the Bathroom Fixtures
Bathroom fixtures like sinks, mirrors, cabinets and walk-in tubs should be at an operational height. Low cabinets are easier to reach for an older person. For storing toiletries, open shelves are better. If you have knobs on the cabinets and sinks, changing them to levers is better. Levers require less effort as compared to knobs and other hardware.
A senior using a wheelchair may not be able to access a sink with storage underneath. A wall-mounted sink leaves space for the wheelchair to slide underneath. As per ADA standards, a lavatory’s height must not exceed 34 inches and should give a minimum knee clearance of 8 inches towards the wall.
8. Non-Slip Bathroom Floors
Slippery floors cause most bathroom accidents. Textured tiles have a rough surface, making them an ideal choice for the bathroom. You can even layer textured tiles on top of existing ones.
Floor slippage is a major concern among the elderly. Anti-slip mats and rugs provide protection from falls and other accidents. To keep the rug from moving, non-slip rugs with rubber padding would be your best option.
Anti-slip floors are common among walk-in tubs. Safe Step walk-in tubs, for example, feature an anti-slip bottom and seat to prevent bathers from slipping. Combined with grab bars, textured floors make aging-in-place bathrooms safe for all seniors.
What Remodeling Project Should I Prioritize?
Remodeling projects like fixing a walk-in bathtub or changing your bathroom floor takes time and huge finances. If you’re looking for a low-budget bathroom remodel for seniors, you could start with small installations.
Safety grab bars and non-slip mats might seem small, yet they significantly increase bathroom safety. If you’re a caregiver for an older person using any mobility device, prioritize ADA-compliant additions.
Invest in a shower seat, and grab bars for support. Also, ensure the entryway is wide enough and the bathroom has adequate space for a wheelchair.
What Are the ADA Bathroom Requirements?
ADA compliance is essential in commercial buildings (stalls) and residential bathrooms. When designing an ADA bathroom, here’s what to consider:
- The toilet should have a 60-inch diameter with the seat 17-19 inches high.
- Minimum door size of 32 inches, preferably 36 inches to accommodate wide wheelchair wheels.
- ADA-compliant grab bars are at least 36 inches wide. You should fix them horizontally 33-36 inches from the bathroom floor.
- Toilet tissue dispensers should be 15-19 inches from the floor. Soap dispensers should be 44 inches high, and towel dispensers/ hand dryers 48 inches from the floor.
- Sinks and countertops must be no more than 34 inches high, with enough knee clearance.
- Faucets must be operable with one hand, preferably lever-operated or electronically controlled.
Choose ADA-compliant products that are easy to use. Because an older person may not be strong, you want products that require the least amount of physical effort.
While the homeowner can complete some remodeling projects, significant changes require hiring a licensed contractor. Bathroom remodels, particularly walk-in tubs, showers, faucets, and toilets, may involve changing the plumbing system.
Overall, the design of an aging-in-place bathroom should prioritize users’ safety, comfort, and wellness. Bathroom remodels for senior citizens are worthwhile investments.