Maintaining personal hygiene is one of the most essential elements of aging in place. However, bathing and using the toilet can be a challenge for seniors with limited mobility. Thoughtful bathroom design allows seniors to retain their dignity and independence for as long as possible. Fortunately, many of the five tips below represent easy and relatively inexpensive adaptations.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
If your home has multiple levels, a full bathroom with a bathtub or shower should be installed on every floor. This is true even if your home is equipped with a motorized stair lift. Large ranch style homes should have at least one full bathroom at each end.
ADEQUATE SPACE TO MANEUVER
Moving from a walker or wheelchair to the toilet or shower in a conventional bathroom can be tricky. Oftentimes there simply isn’t enough room to maneuver. If possible, reconfigure bathrooms with wider pathways between the toilet, sink and shower or bathtub to make it easier for users with limited mobility to use the facilities without assistance.
PROPER TOILET HEIGHT
In many cases, a raised toilet seat can be easier for individuals to use who are restricted in their movement. In addition, the toilet must be accessible to all users. A removable seat extender may be the best solution for all parties.
GRAB BARS AND SHOWER SEATS
Getting into and out of the bathtub or shower can be a real challenge for someone with limited mobility. Installing grab bars around the toilet and in the shower reduce the risk of falling. Likewise, a shower seat allows for safe, comfortable showering. A walk-in shower or tub can help prevent falls when entering the shower.
DOORS AND DETAILS
The phrase, “little things mean a lot” definitely applies to bathroom adaptations intended to enable individuals to age in place. Replacing door knobs with levers is a simple way to allow someone with arthritic fingers to open and close the door. Placing the toilet roll within easy reach of the toilet is another easy fix. Installing skid-proof mats on floors and in showers and bathtubs is a good idea for any household, but a must for households with aging seniors.