With a fresh 2018 calendar hanging on your wall and all of its empty boxes yet to be filled with to-dos, the start of a new year is naturally an optimistic time. Resolutions can come in all forms: eat healthier, become more patient, establish an exercise routine, get more sleep, or make changes around your home. For our client, the new year means a new, safe, aging in place home.
You’ve followed us so far on our journey to making an 82 year olds life at home easier. We’ve shared our remodeling plans and heartwarming personal stories, but this week is going to be more technical. We are going to discuss planning for safety in the bathroom, and how these tips can improve independence and reduce the risk of falls in the bathroom.
Most people want to stay in their homes as long as possible. The trouble is, their homes may not be aging as well as they are. So, take your bathroom for example. Due to its hard and slippery surfaces, thousands of people visit the emergency room each year with injuries suffered while bathing, showering, or using the facilities. Despite that, many homeowners resist even small changes that would make the room safer because they fear their beautiful bathroom will end up looking institutional. However, the time has come for that fear to no longer exist. The very things that make your bathroom safer and easier to navigate— walk-in showers; higher toilets; grab bars— are also some of the latest design trends for any home!
Bathroom modifications to safely age-in-place can be seamlessly integrated into any design plans, and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of an individual, while following general guidelines offered by ADA standards. Here are some practical yet aesthetically pleasing ways we will be transforming her master bathroom into a safe place to keep her independent and loving her new room:
Barrier Free Shower
A curb-less shower provides an accessible approach for anyone, with no tripping hazards. A pitched floor with a linear drain allows the water to drain toward the back of the shower and looks great. Additional shower safety items include a handheld shower (the hose should be at least 6 feet long), and a seat (whether it’s a built-in, fold up or the most flexible: free standing). Make sure you have good light in the shower, and hang a shelf or install a cubby that keeps toiletries within easy reach.
Double Duty Grab Bars
Properly installed grab bars provide the assistance needed to navigate through the bathroom, to pull yourself up, and to maintain balance. In case you slip, you should place these at the entrance and inside the shower or tub and around the toilet at a comfortable height. Bars are typically hung horizontally, but hanging them vertically or on a diagonal is easier to reach if you’re on the floor after a fall. Grab bars are now showing up undetectable in bathrooms, camouflaged as part of many common bathroom fixtures such as toilet paper holders, towel bars, soap dishes, and as shelves. All of these are available in a variety of styles and finishes to match any decor and color scheme.
Tile shape, color, and size add to the design and personal style of any bathroom. For floor tiles, be sure to check that the coefficient of friction for wetness exceeds .60 as a general indicator of slip safety, and also select a tile rich in texture. Shower floors also benefit from smaller scale tile as increased grout surface will provide more grip. It’s also helpful to include an “orienting” border of tile in the shower so that it’s easy to understand where you are in the space (instances where there is vision or other cognitive impairment).
Keep It Handy
Open shelves can be attractive if they’re tidy. Putting glass-front doors on your cabinets lets you see what’s inside without opening them. Look for cabinets with easy-close doors, interior pull out drawers, and all drawers using D-shaped pulls instead of knobs.
Re-Think The Sink
Sinks can be wall-mounted, pedestal, or open with a space underneath the cabinet. Many cabinetry lines now offer standard accessible options to compliment your style, so ask while you are planning your bathroom. Automatic faucets or ones with lever handles are best for ease of operation.
Personal hygiene toilets are all the rage, offering a modern all-in-one toilet/bidet option. These toilet seats go up and down as you approach, are heated, include multi area wash and dry functionality, and even offer a night light. If you are remodeling make sure you have your electrician provide an outlet near the toilet so you can upgrade from your basic toilet at any time. They are offered in a variety of styles and colors, and you can purchase the complete toilet or just the toilet seat, which provides the same functionality at a much lower cost. All toilets should be “comfort” height or 18” height for ease of use.
We are excited to incorporate many of these features in our client’s new first floor Master Bathroom, which will allow her to continue living independently and remain at home. There’s nothing more rewarding then knowing you’re making a New Years resolution a reality while creating a safe, comfortable, and beautiful environment!