According to a recent survey by the AARP, 77% of adults aged 50 and up want to remain in their homes as they grow older. However, one third of all poll participants said they would need to remodel their current residence so that they or a loved one could continue to live there as they age. For Boomers to age in place, they need an updated bathroom to suit their needs.
The bathroom is the area of the house in which adults, regardless of age, are most likely to sustain an injury according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). An ADA-compliant bathroom can make it possible to live independently in your home, yet 79% of adults age 50 and up would need to modify their bathrooms in order to do this safely. Here are seven tips to keep in mind if you’re interested in upgrading or remodeling your bathroom to age in place:
Aging in place tip #1: Increase mobility support
As we get older, our muscles weaken, and our range of mobility becomes increasingly limited. To avoid injury, it’s important to add mobility support throughout your bathroom. One way you can do this is by adding grab bars in your shower and along the main wall of your bathroom for stability. They can double as towel racks so they are hardly noticeable in the design, but they will provide extra security for when you need it. Other updates to make the bathroom more accessible for those with mobility limitations include:
- Comfort-height toilet seats, which make it easier to use the toilet. While standard toilets are between 15 and 16 inches high, comfort-height toilet seats are between 17 and 19 inches, making it easier for individuals to sit down on and stand up from the toilet.
- Non-slip flooring for the bathroom, tub, and shower to prevent loss of balance.
- Bath benches can be a good option if lifting your leg is a challenge when stepping into the bath or shower. Bath benches provide more stability and remove the need to balance on one foot. They can also be helpful in the shower to prevent slipping while standing.
Aging in place tip #2: Install brighter lighting
Additional lighting can brighten dark corners and highlight potential tripping hazards in your space. Your bathroom should include overhead lighting, vanity lighting, and a light over the bath and shower. If you are living in a multi-generational home, consider installing dimmer switches so that the lights can be extra bright for those who need it, while other family members can dim the lights to the brightness they choose.
Aging in place tip #3: Upgrade handles and hardware
Lever handles are a better option for older individuals than twist handles or knobs. For those with arthritis or limited dexterity in their hands, levers are easier to grip. Consider updating the following hardware for increased accessibility:
- Bathroom door handle
- Sink faucet handles
- Shower and/or bath faucet handles
- Vanity drawers, which should be accessible with firm metal handles, rather than knobs or pull tabs
Aging in place tip #4: Widen doorways
Doorways should be widened to a minimum of 32 inches in order to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs. If you are an adventurous DIYer, this upgrade can be completed in a weekend, but due to the complications that could arise, we recommend hiring a contractor. Here are the basic steps to follow if you want to try the DIY route.
Aging in place tip #5: Convert to a walk-in bathtub
Modern walk-in bathtubs offer comfort and safety without sacrificing style. Look for options that incorporate heating pads, jets, quick-flow drains and grab bars for extra support and comfort. Walk in bathtubs provide luxury for individuals of all ages, so you can treat yourself now and enjoy the accessibility features as you get older.
Age in place with Re-Bath
Do any of these upgrades seem intimidating to complete on your own? Don’t worry, Re-Bath is here to help. From ADA-compliant fixtures to slip-resistant technology, Re-Bath offers a full range of solutions for a thoughtfully designed bathroom that’s as safe as it is stunning. Want to learn more about remodeling your bathroom with comfort and safety in mind? Schedule a free in-home design consultation.