The holidays: it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Lights are aglow all around us, people are overflowing with joy, and everything has a little bit more sparkle than the preceding months. We spend the time reconnecting with family members we’ve lost touch with when life was too hectic the rest of the year. This holiday season, did you find yourself recognizing that your parents aren’t getting around quite as well as they did last year? Or maybe as you’re reading this you’re thinking that you’ve lost a bit of your agility these past several months.
Inevitably, we all will lose a bit of mobility as we age, and we are all looking to age with independence and dignity. More recently, retirees are choosing to forgo facilities equipped with accessible living spaces. Instead, the elderly are opting to “age in place.” This concept is defined as the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level. While the “aging in place” trend is a much more desirable way to spend one’s later years in life, the family home is often not prepared for this stage in life. Though there are many rooms in a house that may need renovations for better accessibility, one crucial area to invest in is the bathroom.
How to Equip Your Bathroom For Aging In Place
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 78,000 people are sent to hospitals each year due to injuries occurring from bathing or showering. In addition to the tub or shower, the toilet also poses a substantial risk for those less sprightly. As quoted in a New York Times article, Judy A. Stevens, an epidemiologist with the CDC, said, “Injuries getting on and off the toilet are quite high in people 65 and older. Having grab bars by the toilet would be helpful for people in their older years, and everyone would benefit from having grab bars both inside the tub or shower and where you get in and out.”
Because bathrooms pose the most potential risks for injury, renovating your bathroom will give you peace of mind that you, or your parents, are ready to age in place with grace. Read on to learn where to focus your efforts on your bathroom transformation.
Bathtub and Shower Conversions
Bathing should be a relaxing, rejuvenating experience. However, for the elderly, it can be fraught with anxiety due to the potential for injuries. Many homes are equipped with traditional shower/bath combos because of their versatility. However, because the top of the tub is typically nearly two feet off the ground, they are not ideal for people with limited mobility. Difficulty maneuvering in and out of the tub, combined with wet surfaces, makes it extremely dangerous.
The most common update for an accessible bathroom is converting a shower/tub combo to a walk-in shower. These showers are built to be easy to walk or roll into, so the chances for tripping are minimal. Though risks are reduced, it is essential to install grab bars in the shower as well in case of slipping on the wet floor. Often, it is easier for people with fatigue to sit while they bathe. Therefore, installing a no-slip chair or bench will be a welcome addition. Don’t forget to replace the existing showerhead with a removable, handheld showerhead that will reach the bench or chair.
Many people simply enjoy the luxury of a warm bath filled with essential oils and bubbles. If you find yourself cringing at the thought of being stuck with showers for the rest of your life, a walk-in tub might be a great compromise. Though they come with a higher price tag, they are well worth the investment for avid bubble bath enthusiasts.
Most bathrooms have somewhat similar toilets, with only small differences in color or shape. However, for people facing difficulties getting in and out of chairs, a taller, more accessible toilet would be ideal. Weaker muscles make it challenging to lower oneself to sit or lift to stand, so installing grab bars around the toilet is a vital component of any bathroom conversion.
Other Areas to Consider for Accessibility
- Doorway: you may need to widen it to allow for a wheelchair or walker to make it through with ease. If you think this may be the case at some point, it’s best to do it as part of the whole bathroom renovation rather than waiting for a second alteration.
- Flooring: no-slip mats are the quickest and easiest way to make a bathroom safer. There are also several permanent no-slip flooring options if you are interested in making the investment.
- Sink: unless you need to convert countertop heights for a wheelchair, the bathroom sink often is overlooked for accessibility. Though the sink likely doesn’t pose much risk, there are still ways to make it more user-friendly for people with arthritis. For example, switching traditional knobs out for lever handles are more comfortable to turn on and off for aching joints.
Function Can be Fashionable
We know, when you hear “accessible bathroom,” you instantly picture a sterile, unattractive space as you’ve seen in hospital rooms. We’re here to tell you that accessibility can be beautiful as well as functional. Our team will work with you to design comfortable, attractive spaces to keep you safe.
It’s best to make accessibility alterations before you need them, so your home is ready when you are. Life is full of unexpected events, so having a fully-accessible bathroom will put your mind at ease. Whether it’s an unforeseen surgery, an unfortunate accident, or merely the uncomfortable symptoms of aging, an updated bathroom will keep you safe at home regardless of physical limitations.
Turn to All States Home Improvement to Convert Your Bathroom for Accessibility
Are you ready to take the first step to improve your bathroom’s accessibility? Contact us today for more information! We specialize in bathroom remodels using top-quality products and expert service.
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