Senior citizens suffer from fatal falls, which are unfortunate events that happen in the bathroom. Some of these accidents occur because of slippery surfaces, lack of support bars, cluttered floors and poor lighting. All these are potential hazards for individuals with failing eyesight and reduced muscle coordination as well as physical strength. Fortunately, you can guarantee safety in senior bathrooms by making a complete bathroom renovation or a couple of adjustments that provide extra comfort and stability. s
People of all age groups and different ability levels can use accessible bathrooms, as they promote ease of entry and exit and performance of vital daily tasks such as bathing. It is important to have a good idea of the elements that make up a senior-friendly bathroom by looking at the activities that may facilitate the need for assistance by a user. Here is a beginner’s guide to ensuring a fully accessible bathroom.
An Appropriate Layout and Geometry
Every accessible bathroom should have the right layout and geometry to provide easy accessibility to individuals who will be using the space. There should be zero thresholds or steps preceding the entrance and inside the bathroom as well. If nothing can be done to avoid the thresholds then their height should be limited to a half-inch or less.
The doorways need to be wide enough to allow a person using a wheelchair or a walker to pass through. The minimum required measurement of the space between doorway width and fixtures inside an accessible bathroom may vary depending on individual skills for operating the device and the size of mobility aid used by the person. Work surface heights need to be lowered to a comfortable level that allows ease of access for both seated and standing users.
If you have extra space in your bathroom, you can install different countertops with partitions of varying heights to suit all users. It is also important to create a clear floor space that allows the user to maneuver freely with their mobility aid when opening and closing doors, accessing bathroom fixtures or going about their daily cleaning tasks.
Things to Consider When Designing a Fully Accessible Bathroom
- A Curbless Shower and a Walk-In Bathtub
It is always important to assess the needs of the user before deciding on the fixtures and fittings that need to be put in place. A curbless shower is ideal for people who use a walker or a wheelchair while a walk-in bathtub works great for people with reduced physical strength or mobility. Some designs incorporate a fixed shower seat or a rolling shower seat at a comfortable height for all users.
However, individuals who do not prefer such seats may opt for a plastic chair or stool that can be adjusted or moved. A walk-in tub eliminates the need for climbing over the side of the tub and you can further avoid long reach by installing tub controls near the front edge.
- Accessible Bathroom Toilet
A toilet in a senior bathroom needs to be a comfortable height for all users. The ADA guideline recommends a toilet seat of about 17 to 19 inches high, as it makes it easy for a user to transfer from their mobility aid to the toilet. It also makes it easier to seat and stand. If you find it expensive to replace the toilet, you can choose to install thicker toilet seats, as they help add height to the toilet.
- Safety Rails and Grab Bars
Installing grab bars and safety rails around a toilet and bathroom provides additional support for the aged and people with mobility issues. It minimizes the risk of falls by offering a place to hold onto when a person loses their balance or need extra support when raising or lowering themselves to the tub or toilet.
Accessible Sink and Vanity
An accessible sink provides an open knee space, as it is mounted on the wall without any cabinet underneath. A single-handle faucet that can be turned on easily without any twisting or grabbing makes the sink easily accessible. Consider an extra-long, tilted, or lower-placed mirror that can be used by everyone.
Appropriate lighting is important for bathroom safety, as it minimizes the risk of falls. It needs to be installed in a position that creates even lighting to avoid casting shadows. It is ideal to incorporate as much natural light as possible to provide ample lighting in the bathroom.
There is a wide variety of design options and fantastic products to blend accessibility features into the overall design theme of the bathroom. A fully accessible bathroom is one of the cornerstones that promotes independent living because it gives peace of mind to the elderly and people with mobility restrictions.