The motions of getting up or down, stepping in or out of bathtubs or showers, bending over at the sink, and more are not safe for a senior. And when you add wet circumstances, the bathroom is a risky place.
When the bathroom is not fine laid-out or does not help with accessibility, it will become an unsafe environment for those who have trouble getting around. A bathroom for old people should be easy to get in, easy to move around in, and well-equipped to keep seniors steady.
Creative Universal Design
Universal design is the concept of making a space that is used by anybody, including seniors and those with disabilities. These bathrooms contain various features of Universal design that are used for the elderly as well as disabled individuals.
These refer to making small changes to an existing space. This toilet is modified with an extender that increases its height, making it accessible for seniors that have difficulty lowering themselves, or for those transferring to wheelchairs. Grab bars installed beside the toilet make lowering and transferring easy, while the toilet flush valve is placed at a height that will be reached without bending. Another point in this bathroom design is the mosaic floor; mosaics are less slippery than large tiles because the several grout lines make traction underfoot.
This shower is used for roll-in, walk-in, and transfer circumstances. The bench will fold up to make space for wheelchairs, while the curb-less shower floor gives no obstacle to entry. A grab bar helps in transferring from a wheelchair to the shower seat and lowering from a standing to a seated position. The shower valve is installed at a height that is reached from a seated or standing position, though the showerhead is attached to a sliding bar. The showerhead is positioned and fixed at any height and removed from the bar for accessibility.
This senior-friendly bathroom has several tenets of Universal Design. Many points to consider include:
- The lower threshold in the shower making a small barrier to entry.
- 2 grab bars in the shower assist steady the user and help in preventing falls.
- One can disengage the showerhead from the wall for flexibility in use.
- The vast shower door will accommodate a wheelchair and walker.
- A vast turning radius in the bathroom’s center lets for freedom of movement by a walker and wheelchair user.
- More lighting in the shower area keeps the space well-lit.
- Different heights of countertop let the user sit while using the sink or vanity area.
Modern Accessible design
If you have an accessible bathroom, then it does not really mean that you need to design it to look like a hospital room. Depending upon the requirements of the user, it is possible to make fresh, modern bathroom designs that are accessible. This modern bathroom contains many components of Universal design, including:
- A wheelchair-accessible sink that lets the user wheel up beneath it
- Lots of space beneath the faucet, with a lever handle for ease-of-use in turning on or off the water flow.
- A low-threshold, low-barrier to entry in the shower letting a walker and wheelchair user enter the area safely.
- A lower, handheld showerhead and a ceiling-mounted, fixed shower head to permit flexibility and ease-of-use in bathing.
- Smooth flooring protects the user from falls.
How to design safe bathrooms for seniors
Make the bathroom accessible.
Access to the bathroom is the first part. Make sure a clear path with no barriers and rugs to avoid tripping. Illuminate the way to the bathroom to aid the person to navigate at night. You need to consider wheelchair use if the elderly members of your family are capable of walking. Give the bathroom sufficient space so a person in a wheelchair can move freely inside.
Use wide and easy-open doors.
Bathroom doors need to be a minimum of 80 cm vast and should be open fast. Sliding doors having smooth glides are highly recommended. opt for lever handles over regular doorknobs. Remove bathroom locks to make the bathroom accessible in an emergency.
Lay non-slip floors.
The last thing you need in a wet environment is slippery floors. Utilize non-slip materials for preventing slips. Another choice is to lay a rubberized mat over the floor to increase the friction between the feet and the surface.
Wedge the toilets.
The elderly can find it difficult to sit down or get up from the toilet. To ease the movement, consider wedging the bathroom to raise it to 46 cm.
Install grab bars.
Grab bars are an important thing in bathrooms for older people. This helps when getting in or out of the shower and sitting and standing up from the toilet and tub. Stainless steel and aluminum grab bars are designed for supporting the weight of an adult. Secure these to the walls near the toilet and the shower at around 1.10-1.30 m high. In a big bathroom, install these safe bars on an empty wall to help the user reach certain options in the bathroom.
Rather than spherical knobs, install faucets with lever taps. These are easy to use than spherical, twistable knobs, particularly for those who have arthritis or other circumstances affecting their capability to turn faucets. Valves with electric sensors are recommended.
Choose the shower over the bathtub.
Avoid installing tubs in bathrooms for elderly members as they are difficult to enter and exit. Instead, that build a complete shower box measuring a minimum of 80 cm wide. Make sure that there is space for a carrier when it is needed. Install a 2nd showerhead, preferably handheld to make bathing easier. To make your shower ergonomic, you should install a folding support stool.