Aging in Place: Bathroom Safety

June 22nd, 2012 by @lamberts

Homecare Advocate Blog: Aging in Place, Bathroom Safety

We’re halfway through our Home Safety Month celebration having spent last week focusing on kitchen transformations to promote safer living and aging in place.  Let’s look at that other power player in home design, bathrooms.   Last year we touched removing bathroom obstacles and problem areas in our Fall Prevention Series, so today we’ll focus on designing a bathroom suitable for any one at any age.

Advice from Contractors

As we discussed last week, it’s important to pick the right contractor for your renovation.  A good contractor can offer advice on efficient layouts and slip-resistant surfaces.  He/she can also guide you on cost-effective solutions, such as keeping the plumbing in its existing location.

Evaluating Your Bathroom

Many bathrooms are now trending towards universal design features to create the maximum usability and functionality for anyone, regardless of ability. Analyze your bathroom.  What works for you?  What doesn’t?  How long do you think you’ll live here?  If you were to become injured or disabled, would you still be able to use this room?

Bathroom trends include:

  • Slip-free surfaces
  • Zero-threshold walk-in showers (min 3′ square)
  • Walk-in tubs with doors
  • Shower seating
  • Floating vanities
  • Contrast on different surfaces
  • Radiant-heated floors
  • Open shelving
  • Pocket doors
  • 5′ radius turnaround area
  • Blocking behind walls for grab bars

The Bathroom Budget Breakdown

Medicare does not cover bathroom safety items.  However, the good thing about bathrooms is that no matter your budget, you can make major strides towards a safe bathing experience.  Don’t ignore the problem and make excuses–bathrooms are a high risk area where 1/3 of all home falls happen.  Here’s a guide to changes you can make at different budget levels:

Homecare Advocate Blog: Aging in Place, Bathroom Safety

$$: Immediate Fixes

  • Grab bars
  • Raised toilet seat
  • Shower seat
  • Slip-resistant shower liner
  • Hand-held shower hose
  • Touchless or Tap-on Faucets

$$$: Small Adjustments

  • Comfort height toilet (17.5″ vs. 14-15″ standard)
  • Dual-flush toilets (energy saving)
  • Wider doorways
  • Additional lighting
  • Replace vanity with one that accommodates your height and offers clearance for wheelchair footrests

$$$$: Major Adjustments

  • Walk-in Tub
  • No-threshold shower
  • Built-in shower benches/seats
  • Replacing flooring with slip-resistant grade tile
  • Remodeling bathroom with accessible floorplan
  • Adding a universally designed bathroom on main level

Homecare Advocate Blog: Aging in Place, Bathroom SafetyOn a personal note, my husband and I are about to embark on our own bathroom expansion and remodel utilizing universal design principles.  We’re able-bodied 30-somethings, yet universal design features are as relevant and useful for us as it would be someone in their 70s.  We’re planning ahead, thinking not only of ourselves as we get older, but also our guests and even the next future owner of our home.   We’re seeing first hand that one doesn’t have to sacrifice beauty for functionality, and the options available today can accommodate any taste and preference.

I’ll keep you posted on our own remodeling project as it develops in the coming months.  In the meantime, visit our Pinterest board, Aging in Place for some great bathroom design inspiration for aging in place in a distinctly you, beautiful way.


3 Responses to “Aging in Place: Bathroom Safety”

June 24, 2012 at 12:16 pm, Diane said:

Invisible Bathtub Mat® is a great solution to make tubs & showers safer for the elderly

Safer, non-slip Bathtubs are a reality with Invisible Bathtub Mat®.
Invisible Bathtub Mat® Increases the “GRIP” on wet ceramic /porcelain bathtubs* and ceramic tile shower floors. You now have safer, non slip wet surfaces. Invisible Bathtub Mat® is THE ONLY PRODUCT that DOES NOT ACID ETCH and it WILL NOT create any tread patterns on bathtub bottoms. Acid etching eats into the porcelain and damages the surface and despite their claims causes cleaning issues. Bathtubs mats contain BPA, get mouldy and increase the risk of bacteria and germs even if they are cleaned.


July 03, 2012 at 4:17 pm, Ashley Plauche said:

Thanks for sharing this info, Diane! What else have our readers come up with to make their bathrooms safer?


January 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm, Janie said:

This one isn’t about bathrooms but the entire house. I think it’s pretty informative as well!


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