Living independently is a goal that is cherished by most people. Being able to rely on yourself gives you the freedom to live your life the way you want. Many people though are reliant on others, whether that is due to increasing age, a disability, or even injury.
In terms of accessible bathrooms, there are several bathroom modifications for disabled and elderly people that can be performed to create an accessible bathroom. Below are 7 bathroom modifications for disabled and elderly people, that can assist in improving your life at home.
Simply getting through doorways can prove challenging if you use a wheelchair, walking frame or commode, as standard doorways are often not wide enough to fit through. There’s also the risk of a corner being too tight to manoeuvre through. It is important to make sure that there is clearance on all sides to be able to get in and out of the bathroom easily and safely, and without scratching doors and frames.
Narrow doorways are not something you want to have to deal with daily, or worse, several times a day. As part of an overall accessible bathroom modification, widening your doorways is something that will need to be considered if you use or are likely to use a wheelchair, walker or commode in the future.
Exchanging the Bathtub for a Shower
As relaxing as a nice, soothing bath can be, it can pose a risk when getting into and out of the tub for people with mobility issues. A slip and fall can be very dangerous, so eliminating that risk is good for peace of mind, and your health.
A walk-in shower instead of a bathtub is much safer for most as you don’t have to climb in and out, you simply walk in. They can also be level entry, so there’s no steps/hobs to get over, and if big enough, can even be wheeled into.
In many bathrooms, the existing bath area is in the perfect space for a large open shower, which is far more practical for almost all people, but especially those with mobility issues.
Bathrooms are the most dangerous part of the house. Slip and fall accidents are common, even more so as you get older. A combination of water, slippery tiles and thresholds such as shower hobs and bathtubs make for a potentially dangerous combination.
One of the best solutions is the use of grab rails to hold onto for balance or weight-bearing. In a shower, it is usually a case of needing extra balance, and for a toilet, it may be the difference in being able to get on and off the toilet or not.
There are many types of grab rails. These are the most common-
- Standard grab rails for walls
- Fold-down grab rails for toilets
- Integrated towel/grab rails
- Integrated toilet roll holder/grab rails
- Variance height grab rail shower systems
- Floor to wall “L” shaped rails
- And finally, custom made rails of almost any size and design
Almost all homes over 15 years old, that haven’t been renovated, have bathroom floor tiles that wouldn’t be compliant with today’s standards of slip ratings. Many older homes essentially have glossy wall tiles on the floor. Just add water and suddenly having a shower becomes more like a slippery dip.
There are options available for making slippery tiles non-slip, such as grip tapes that are attached to the floor. There’s also etching treatments that give friction in the tile, and of course, there is the option of retiling with a slip-resistant tile which is the best option.
Non-slip tiles tended to be more for commercial use and were therefore hard to clean, tended to hold onto dirt more, and looked a bit too industrial for most homes. In the last year or two though, several new non-slip tile versions have been released which give great slip resistance, but look like a “normal” tile, and are much easier to clean.
For most people, a standard sink or vanity setup will work just fine. However, if a wheelchair accessible bathroom is what you need, some serious thought will need to go into its design and set-up.
Critical things to consider are the height, to be able to wheel under it with ease and to be able to use the basin without having to lean over.
You’ll also need plenty of bench space for your grooming needs ie. Toothbrush, hairbrush etc.
Storage space. To be able to get a wheelchair under the basin/top, you will lose a lot of space for storage. Is there space to the side for drawers? If not, is there room for storage elsewhere in the bathroom?
Finally, with a wheelchair accessible sink, your legs will be close to the plumbing. This can cause potential issues with hot pipes on the skin, so special insulating of the plumbing is usually required.
Shower Head Types
There are two main types of showerheads. Fixed showerheads, and variance height showerheads. The variance height shower heads are attached to a hose, and the hose and head are attached to a vertical rail which allows you to adjust the height of the showerhead. This is great for people who need to sit while showering which is very common as you get older, or if you have an injury or disability.
A standard variance rail shower is not rated for use as a grab rail. It can be damaged or come away from the wall if any force is applied, such as using it for balance. However, there are variance rails that double as grab rails, so are perfect for those who need a bit of extra stability while showering.
Replace Traditional Taps With Touchless Taps
Traditional taps require the user to have reasonable strength and dexterity. If your motor skills are not 100%, or you’re losing strength in your hands, or have issues such as arthritis, the simple act of washing your hands can become difficult, if not painful, literally.
This is where touchless taps come in. With motion-sensing technology, all you need to do is get your hands close to the sensor to activate the tap. It couldn’t be any easier. This also helps if someone forgets to turn the tap off, as, with a motion-sensing one, it will shut off automatically after a short time when it does not detect any motion.
There are many more modifications that AccessAble can provide, but hopefully, these ideas have given you a more in-depth look into some of the possibilities. We hope that this information can help you make an informed decision on making any necessary bathroom modifications you may require to your bathroom to help keep you safe, and independent.