One of the very first considerations for designing a home for the elderly is its safety. When their home space does not pose a threat to their fragile physique, you, as their loved ones, can rest with peace of mind knowing that they can retire comfortably. But it’s not always just a matter of installing ambulation assistance or moving a piece of furniture in the house. Designing a safe space, especially the bathroom, for your senior loved sometimes entails careful thought.

The bathroom, being often the smallest room in the house, may be hard for seniors to navigate. A small slip on wet floors can cause an array of worrisome health concerns. To add insult to injury, many of the materials used in constructing bathrooms even make them more prone to these little accidents as well. So how do you design a bathroom that is practical without forgoing aesthetic?

Trying to strike that sweet spot between functionality and style is a great challenge for any designer. Fortunately, even if you’re no design expert, achieving that balance is still possible. Here are some useful design tips that will help you secure a safe space for your loved ones.

Add Toilet Safety Rails
Safety rails and grab bars can be installed around the bathroom area or toilet to provide extra support. Even the simple act of standing up can be a physical strain to most elderlies. Having something they can grab on to makes bathing and using the toilet easier.

Safety rails come in various designs and styles, but collectively, they can be categorized into those that can be attached to a toilet and free-standing frames that can be positioned around the toilet.

According to Homewyse, the average cost of the grab bars themselves can range from $17 to $26. Labor cost can be anywhere between $68 to $223.

Get Rid of the Clutter
You probably have no problem with having your bathroom supplies stocked up on high shelves or scattered around the area, without regard for order. But when you have limited mobility, this can be a real cause of concern and frequent frustration.

If you have so much clutter in your bathroom, it’s easy to knock things off where they’re stored. When that happens, elderlies will have trouble bending over just to pick them back up. Fallen clutter also increases chances of bathroom mishaps via slips. Stretching out to reach things on high shelves can easily cause elderlies fall out of their comfortable capability.

These are all important considerations when thinking about bathroom organization for the elderly. Declutter and ensure that items used on a daily basis are within easy, comfortable reach.

Raise the Height of Your Toilet
Adding a few inches to the toilet’s height will help elderlies use them easier without the need for too much bending. A higher toilet also helps them get up easier, especially when the toilet is reinforced with grab rails or bars.

So how do you add toilet height? The easiest and less costly option is to consider putting a thicker toilet seat. The other option is to replace the existing toilet with a comfort height toilet. Standard toilet sizes typically fall under 17" while these comfort height toilets measure 17" or more.

If you’re thinking of the latter option, you can save on replacement cost by opting for cost-efficient macerating toilets. They are cheaper, easier to install, and movable in case you need to do further home renovating in the future.

Install a Zero-Threshold Shower
A zero-threshold bathroom is essentially a shower without a curb. This design is meant to provide ease for anyone using a wheelchair or a walker when using the shower. Doors are typically optional for this kind of shower design.

Another important consideration when building your zero-threshold shower is a type of flooring that provides good traction to prevent mitigate incidents of slips and falls. You may also place a slatted tray on the floor to achieve the purpose.

To complete the setup, install a handheld showerhead. This makes it easier for seniors to reach and gives them better control of the intensity of the water flow when using the shower.

Consider Having a Walk-in Tub
Tubs can be especially tricky to navigate when your balance is off, as is the case among seniors. A simple solution to this common problem is to install a walk-in tub in which they can easily step in and out of without fear of losing their equilibrium and slipping on the floor in the process. This way, they don’t have to climb over the edge, and the water is easily filled and drained with no trouble.

Place the controls where they can be easily reached so the elderly won’t have to exert much effort.

Opt for Nonslip Mats and Rugs
Slipping on the bathroom fall can be painful if not simply straight-out fatal. And for the elderly, a simple slip can even warrant the need for a hip replacement. That’s why securing an elderly bathroom’s floor is an absolute necessity. Shower pans, tub bottoms, and nonslip mats are all great options you can explore.

Ensure Proper Lighting
Overhead lighting is usually preferred for an elegant bathroom design. But this does not work well for elderlies who already have trouble seeing well. Overhead lighting casts shadows and usually doesn’t provide proper illumination for certain areas in the bathroom.

The best way to solution to this is to add multiple illuminations to ensure that all areas in the bathroom are uniformly lighted. Opt out of high-gloss fixtures as well as they may create glares that can easily confuse seniors.

Final Word
One of the best ways to show gratitude to your elderly loved ones is to help them age with comfort and dignity. While these may be simple steps, securing a safe home space where they can maintain most of their independence goes a long way in helping them achieve a happier and healthier life.

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