A bathroom for Aging in Place
With more people choosing to stay in their own homes, or with relatives, as they grow older, there are many things to consider to ensure it’s a safe and practical place to live. And bathrooms for the elderly are an essential part of future proofing your home.
Known as ‘aging in place’ – living in the home and community of your choice as you get older– the number of elderly people opting to stay at home, or with family members, instead of living in a care home is on the increase. The aging population is also on the rise, with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) predicting that, by 2039, it will be 29.5%, up from 23.2% this year.
Continuing to live at home brings a host of benefits to the elderly. From mental wellbeing and familiarity to comfort and independence. So, how can you make sure your bathroom is safe, easy to look after and adapted to your needs as you age, without compromising on style?
Install a Level-access shower
It’s far easier for an elderly person to get into a shower than a bath, and there are a range of large shower trays and enclosures available that have been designed specially to replace a bath.
Wet rooms with frameless shower enclosures are an ideal solution. With no floor threshold to worry about, they are a great choice for wheelchair users and can be made to measure offering the scope for a larger area with a shower seat, a bigger door opening or even a split level so a carer can help with washing.
Within your frameless shower enclosure you could fit grab rails – there are many stylish designs available in a variety of metals and painted finishes. A tiled shower seat offers comfort and convenience and can even be accompanied by a foot rail, to eliminate bending. A hand-held shower can be combined with a fixed showerhead – and even body jets – for an indulgent shower while comfortably seated.
If you prefer a bath, however, there are specially designed versions that have a side access door and shower screen. Although costlier than a traditional bath, they are far more convenient and easier to get in to and out of.
Adapt your bathroom suite for convenience
There are a wide range of toilets, basins and taps on the market to make using the bathroom more convenient for the elderly. Raised toilet seats – at 80mm to 100mm higher than a standard toilet – are easier to get on and off, and even more so when accompanied with a wall-mounted grab handle. You can also get versions with armrests and electronic washing and drying functions.
A wall-hung basin is an ideal alternative, allowing room for a chair or wheelchair for comfort and ease. You can fit these at whatever height suits you best and there are even adjustable versions available, to adapt to the needs of multiple users.
Lever taps are less awkward than rotary controls, and fitting temperature control ones is a simple and effective upgrade to your bathroom. While anti-scald taps are now a legal requirement, some older homes may still not have them.
Choose a floor to help avoid slip hazards
A simple way to make the bathroom safe, and help to avoid any falls, is by using lighter toned tiles with high slip resistance. Whatever floor covering you choose, whether vinyl, porcelain or natural stone, tiles with a high slip rating will give a good underfoot grip in both wet and dry conditions. Use alongside non-slip mats around the bath and shower areas.
A good extractor fan will also help, by removing moisture from the bathroom and helping to dry the area quicker.
Electric under floor heating is another good way to speed up drying, as well as providing wonderful comfort and evenly dispersed heat. Under floor heating also helps to prevent mould, making maintaining your bathroom simpler. Not all under floor heating is suitable for use in a bathroom, so check to make sure. It must also be competently installed.
Good bathroom lighting is essential
Without sufficient lighting, there’s a higher chance of an elderly person falling or slipping in the bathroom. Bright, even light is ideal and will make day-to-day tasks easier. Automatic sensory lighting is a good idea, particularly for accessing the bathroom at night, while LED lighting used to light floors and walkways will help at all times.
It’s worth noting that bathroom alterations for people with disabilities or impaired mobility may qualify for VAT exemption.