Independence & Security at Every Stage of Life with Accessible Bathroom Design
You don’t passively sit back and accept an unfortunate fate. You adapt, see what’s within your power to limit the effects of negative experiences. Return to a level of normalcy, comfort and security.
Living a healthier, more active lifestyle is a priority, and with 90% of us planning on retiring in our homes, they need to be rejuvenated and keep the pace right along with us, including the bathroom.
Is adding accessibility a priority?
85% of slips and falls happen in the wet environment of the bathroom. If your health or a loved one’s changes and mobility becomes limited, even temporarily, you want to limit that risk.
So where do you start & what should you consider?
Here are 5 areas to add accessibility for therapeutic and safe bathing.
If you have balance or other mobility concerns, stepping over the rise of a tub can be difficult and dangerous.
Walk-in tubs should have a wide opening, low step-in or clearance of 3” and provide stable seating with internal handrails. Some, like the Kohler Walk-In Bath, also has an outer edge handrail that helps you lower your weight onto the seat.
Bathtubs with a low edge height, added seat, and anti-slip surface will take less effort to get in and out of independently or assisted.
Hydrotherapy tubs with adjustable air jets give a muscle-relaxing massage, while features like a heated seat, back & headrest, with fast drain technology, make for an enjoyable bath from beginning to end.
Like walk-in tubs, stand-alone showers also offer a low barrier entry. Better still are large showers with a flat entry which minimizes you tripping and is wheelchair accessible. Make sure the floor is sloped for proper drainage.
Reduce standing time with a shower seat or bench to relieve strain on your muscles and the chance of a fall. You can shower comfortably, seated or standing by installing a hand shower with a slide bar near the shower bench or seat.
Built-in shelving in the shower or tub enclosure keeps your shampoo, soap and sponges close & available when and where they’re needed most.
Taller Toilets & Bidet Seats
If you have joint problems, a taller, chair-height toilet with an elongated bowl will provide less strain on your knees, back & balance. Comfort-Height toilets are 17”-19” tall compared to a standard 15” height.
Adding a staggered placement of grab bars on the wall beside the toilet not only keep you stable but reduce your effort to sit and stand.
For those needing a little more assistance, adding a cleansing seat gives you bidet functionality in a water-based, hands-free cleansing. A remote allows you to personalize your settings, giving you feeling of comfort & confidence.
Wall Mounted Sinks & Counter-Levered Vanities
If standing is challenging or a walker or wheelchair are used at the sink, a counter may be in the way. Wall-mounted, ADA labelled sinks allow for complete and free access to stand or sit as close to the sink as possible.
If you have space and need for double sinks, cantilevered vanities (each installed at a different height) accommodates all family members.
5’ Radius Rule
Steal square footage where you can; from another room, an attached garage, or closet.
This is approximate, but generally, 5 feet between sink, toilet and bathtub/shower is spacious enough for easy wheelchair access.
And if your role is as a caregiver, you’ll want a comfortable space for safely assisting your loved one.
Planning a stylish, attractive bathroom is easy.
Planning a bathroom that also allows for wheelchair clearance under the sink or accessible & safe bathing adds stress at a time when 100% of your energy is focused on handling a change in your health, or immediately finding yourself in the position of caregiver for a loved one.
Every family’s experience is individual, but asking the experts the right questions can make planning a bathroom that’s adapted to you, easier:
- Ask your architect, or designer, if they are experienced and understand design considerations for basic accessibility
- Do online research for specific terms like Aging in Place and Universal Design
- Look for fixture manufacturers with ADA designed products
If you’d like to talk about making accessibility changes to your bathroom to accommodate your future needs visit our Kitchen & Bath Showroom in Bedford and speak with one of our expert consultants about Aging in Place.