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Aging in Place – Bathroom Remodeling Tips

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The bathroom may be one of the smallest rooms in your home, but there’s no doubt that it’s one of the most important! Unfortunately, the bathroom can also pose a serious risk to elderly members of the home, and having a hard-to-use bathroom can make aging in place a goal that’s difficult to achieve. With more than 90% of seniors stating that they wish to remain in their homes while aging, keeping the bathroom updated with accessible features is of utmost importance.

Thankfully, there are countless upgrades available for the home bathroom that can make it more functional and safe—without sacrificing on style! Whether you are ready to go all-out for a complete bath remodel or are working on a budget to make economical upgrades, having a high-quality bathroom that meets your needs may be closer than you think.

Innovative Features for a Safer, Accessible Bathroom

One of the biggest risks for aging in place is falls within the home, and the bathroom is a prime spot for those to occur. In fact, falling is the leading cause of injuries reported in the ER for those aged 65 or older! Navigating the tight spaces and slippery surfaces of a traditional bathroom can be a serious barrier to aging in place, and we’ve broken down some of the top tips for turning each area of your bath into a safer, more useable room.

Flooring

The most important thing to look for in bathroom flooring is its slip-resistance. As a rule of thumb, the smoother the surface, the more likely it is to get slick when wet, and there are several options available to upgrade the floors of your bath.
Vinyl is a great choice if you’re on a budget and looking for slip-resistant flooring for your remodel, and certain types of tile also lead the industry in popularity. When choosing tile for your accessible bath, look for products that have texture to give your feet extra grip. The tile industry makes this choice even easier by adding a number to each type of tile that reflects how slip-resistant it is. Look for a tile that has a rating of 0.42 or higher to get the most out of your new floor.

Showers and Bathtubs

Bathing independently is at the top of the list for concerns when talking about accessible bathrooms, and there are numerous ways to minimize the risk of falling and make a shower or tub easier to manage for those who struggle with mobility.

Curb-less Showers
Walk-in or roll-in showers are some of the most popular choices for an accessible bathroom. Barrier-free shower pans allow wheelchairs to easily roll in and out, and the lack of a ledge eliminates the need to step into the shower. You can also upgrade your walk-in shower with built-in seating, ADA-compliant grab bars, and adjustable shower heads to truly make it a functional, stylish space.

Walk-In Bathtubs
A growing tread for accessible bathrooms is installing a walk-in tub. While there are numerous benefits to this bath feature, there are also some drawbacks to keep in mind. Walk-in bathtubs allow for effortless bathing and comfortable seating, and they commonly feature leak-proof doors and hydrotherapy jets. However, the person must remain in the tub as it fills and drains, which can be an uncomfortable drawback.

Toilet

Toilets are arguably the most essential feature of any bathroom, and having a toilet that is fully-functional for all members of the family is a vital part of aging in place. The height and location are both major factors when it comes to choosing an accessible toilet in your bath remodel. Make sure that there is enough room around the toilet for easy maneuvering, and taller toilets with supporting grab bars are a good idea to minimize the risk of falls and injury. Also keep in mind the location of the toilet paper roll! Reducing the need to reach out for toilet paper can make the entire process safer and more comfortable.

Lighting and Accessories

Showers, tubs, floors, and toilets are the biggest components of an accessible bathroom remodel, but you don’t need to stop there! There are several ways that you can increase the safety and function of any size bathroom with affordable, simple upgrades, including:

    • Adequate Lighting: Choose light fixtures that illuminate the space well without creating an intense glare. Natural light is always good in a bathroom, and having easy-to-access switches and a nightlight can help increase the functionality of the space.
    • Sinks and Countertops: Sink faucets that have levers instead of knobs are ideal in an accessible bathroom. Additionally, check into installing countertops at two different heights so using the sink is comfortable whether you are standing or sitting in a wheelchair.
    • Storage and Safety: Installing grab bars throughout the bathroom is a necessity to assist elderly family members with their independence. You can also add inexpensive caddies and storage units in the shower or around the sink for easy access to important toiletry items.

Getting Started with Your Accessible Bathroom Remodel

For many homeowners who are considering an accessible bathroom remodel, cost can be a major factor. Full professional bath renovations can run upwards of $40,000, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a safer, more stylish bath on a budget! By starting slowly with minor upgrades, you can begin creating a bathroom that is more accessible and reduces the risk of slips and falls—which is the main goal for anyone with a desire to age in place.

When you’re ready to take the leap into a larger-scale bathroom remodel, be sure that you do some research on the contractor that you choose! Keep aging in place best practices in mind to ensure that you are getting the highest value for your remodeling budget, and you’ll be enjoying your beautiful, accessible bathroom in no time.

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