Age Appropriate Safe Bathrooms
Protection for the elderly and mobility impaired
For older adults, using the bathroom effectively and safely– whether it is the toilet, taps, or the Shower and Bathtub – can be difficult. For people who have lost mobility and strength, standing in a shower for a long time isn’t possible, and getting in and out of a bathtub is a risky proposition.
Thankfully there has been progress in senior friendly bathrooms geared towards helping seniors navigate the bathroom with ease. The renovation of your existing bathroom can cover a wide range of options, from something as simple as a sprayer attachment that allows for the person to sit while bathing, to flat access showers that remove the need to step up for access. These changes can help the elderly be more independent in the bathroom, and they also help the persons carer give better quality attention to their loved one.
Here are some top tips for mobility friendly bathrooms
1. Install lever Taps. Having a lever Tap gets rid of the twisting and turning that can be difficult for the elderly. There are hundreds of different styles to choose from, including foot operated Taps. Installing a new Tap isn’t as difficult as it once was, but anytime you’re dealing with plumbing, it is good to at least talk with a professional before making the change yourself.
2. Get a sprayer attachment for your shower-head. A shower-head that you can detach and hold in your hand makes having a bath much easier. It furthermore eliminates the need to stand while showering, certainly a bonus for those who have problems standing for long periods. Being able to sit and shower also means more independence for the elderly.
3. Install grab bars and rails. This is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to make your bathroom more elderly-friendly. Installing grab bars and rails in the shower, bathtub and near the toilet makes bathing and using the toilet easier not only for the elderly person, but for the caregiver as well. The grab bars and rails should be installed by a professional or you ONLY if you are competent at diy do the work yourself.
Raise the height of the toilet. Simply raising the toilet’s height as little as three inches can make all the difference for seniors. There are a lot of options for raising the height of the toilet. You can simply raise the height of your existing toilet with a thick toilet seat, or you can replace your old toilet with a “Comfort Height” toilet. Once again, this can be a DIY project, or a project where you call a plumber
5. Thick rugs for cushioning. This simple and easy addition to the bathroom is especially for caregivers that are spending time on their knees bathing someone. Placing a well-padded rug or pillow under your knees can keep your knees from hurting, making the bathing process less of a chore.
Non-slip bath mats and rugs. This is another easy way to prevent falls in the bathroom. Placing a non-slip mat in the shower prevents the senior from falling while showering and a non-slip rug on the floor outside the shower prevents any slipping once the senior is out of the shower. Non-slip tape is a lower cost option for shower pans and tub bottoms.
Flat entry showers (wet rooms) and Walk-in bathtubs. For the seniors that can’t lift their legs, putting in a wet room type shower can be a lifesaver.With a flat entry level shower a person of limited mobility can make the transition from wheelchair to shower seat simple and easy for both the person involved and the caregiver. Walk-in bathtubs are another popular option, as they are much easier to access than traditional tubs and most have a built in seat as well. There are many different options for installing a wet room type shower or a walk in bathtub. You can buy and have installed a new prefabricated unit instead of trying to make modifications to your existing setup.The advantage to having a new unit installed is that they are specifically designed for seniors and impaired mobility care.
8. Choosing a non-slip bathroom floor makes sense. With the water and moisture present in the bathroom, falls here are common. When choosing a bathroom flooring material, safety should be one of several factors you consider. Safety is also an important consideration for other standing areas in the bathroom such as the shower base floor. Of course, safety isn’t the only issue – you’ll also want to consider your style preference and your budget.
The good news is, you have a number of options to consider for the floor in your bathroom..
One of the best overall options is the use of tile. Both ceramic and porcelain tile can be a good option. Several manufacturers offer a slip-resistant option.
Non-Slip Vinyl Flooring
Perhaps one of the best options for slip resistance is vinyl flooring. Some products are specifically designed to provide slip resistance. Vinyl flooring is also very easy to maintain. It does not stain and does not damage from water (if the product is designed to be waterproof.) It is also very durable, meaning you are unlikely to damage it using a wheelchair.
Cork or Bamboo Flooring
A cork or bamboo flooring product can work well in some bathroom settings. Both products offer some nice features in terms of looks and trendy designs. They are a good option for those who want to minimize sound traveling through the space. And, they tend to be a warmer option than using any type of tile. When choosing bamboo or cork flooring, really learn about the product details. Manufacturer options range widely.
Carpeting is an option for the bathroom. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was more common to find carpeting extending from the bedroom into the bathroom. Of course, it offers a few key benefits. You can choose from a wide range of colors, material types, and patterns. You also get to choose a product that offers the piling you enjoy. And, carpets absorb moisture. This creates one of the best barriers to falling. You are less likely to fall when carpet is present.
There are a few drawbacks to consider as well. Carpet flooring will absorb moisture. And, like bamboo or cork, needs to fully dry out in order to prevent the buildup of mold or mildew in the space.
A less commonly thought of product is rubber flooring. It may not be the most ideal in terms of the way it looks or feels under your feet. However, it can be a good option for seniors and those who need slip resistance. When wet, this type of flooring does not become slick. You can count on it being a better option overall for this reason. If you do fall in the bathroom, rubber has a nice cushion to it. This can help to absorb some of the shock and protect your body from injury.
We really hope this guide has shed some light on the area of mobility impaired bathrooms.
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