As we grow older, the simplest of actions become hard for us, from walking down to stairs to using the bathroom. When elders use the bathroom, safety and comfort are the two main priorities. Luckily, a water room can actually be designed in such a way it helps seniors stay safe and fully independent.
A bathtub or a walk-in shower
A dilemma that most homeowners are faced with is whether to install a bathtub or a shower in their bathroom. The answer to this question has to do with the people who are going to use the water room the most. For example, if you’re a mother given baths to your kids, then a tub is by far a better option.
On the other side, seniors tend to get more out of a shower because they are easier to access, allowing them to take a shower on their own. The floor of a walk-shower is not much different from the rest of the bathroom floor, allowing ease of access, as there are no steps to cross.
Of course, this means that there should be a towel on the floor to prevent slipping. Also, if you are really into bathtubs, there are walk-in tubs as well but they are pricy. Furthermore, they require extra maintenance, as the side gasket needs to be 100% watertight.
Updating the walk-in shower
Once you have installed a shower in the bathroom, your job isn’t over yet. The cabin can be further upgraded by installing a sprayer attachment for the shower-head. Once you are able to detach the showerhead, it becomes easier to take a shower, even if the person has issues with mobility.
Furthermore, there is no need to stand while showering, so installing a bench is a great senior-friendly feature. Of course, when someone else wants to take a shower, they can fold the bench and place the showerhead back on the wall peg.
Apart from a bench inside the shower, you could install a grab bar or a rail. These are also installed on walls outside of the shower cabin, helping people move easier around the room. A typical bathroom supply store offers a wide array of these bars and you can install most of them on your own. Grab bars are especially useful when installed near the toilet, as they ease the getting up and sitting down the process.
Making the switch to a bidet
Speaking of the toilet, seniors find it particularly embarrassing when they are unable to use the toilet on their own. Medical technicians at old folks’ homes have to help people not only reach the bathroom but use them as well.
However, this only applies to conventional toilets, as bidets require much less fidgeting to get the job done. No wonder then that bidets are immensely popular in the East. In the West, we are just now discovering all the perks of a bidet.
When you reach a certain age, even turning the water on can be a problem. Faucets in old households are hard to operate, so consider replacing them with levers. A lever faucet doesn’t require any twisting or turning, meaning that even a child can use it.
They come in all shapes and, so you won’t have a problem choosing the ideal design for your bathroom. However, unlike grip bars, you should call a professional when updating the faucet.
The value of anti-slip mats
We have mentioned earlier that tiles inside the bathroom can be quite slippery, especially after a shower. Apart from laying flowers on the floor, the best way to prevent slipping is to place anti-slip mats in the bathroom. These can sit next to the door and in front of the shower cabin, where the risk is the greatest. If an elderly person slips and falls, they can permanently injure their hip.
Adjusting the height of the toilet
Whether it’s a bidet or the conventional toilet bowl, these fixtures are made in pretty much the same height. While this is fine for healthy adults, children and the elderly can experience a problem using the toilet. Namely, the bowl is often set too low, so it’s difficult to use it because of the disproportion.
Even the slightest correction of height will result in more comfortable use of the toilet bowl. Raising the height of the toilet involves either getting a thicker toilet seat or installing a new, raised toilet. If you’re good with plumbing, you can even a layer of bricks at the base of the bowl.
Floor rugs and mats
Anti-slip mats we discussed earlier are excellent safety features but their industrial look doesn’t go with most bathroom designs. Luckily, rugs are a great alternative; nothing less safe than anti-slip rugs. You get to choose the colour and the texture of these mats. The only downside is that they easily get wet, so you should take them outside to air them frequently.
Just a couple of decades ago, a towel warmer was still considered a luxury but nowadays, it’s a staple in every bathroom. Seniors benefit from a towel warmer, as does away with the need to walk across the house to place it on the washing line. A warmer is always with a hand’s reach, acting as a mini radiator in winter.
If you were to consult a real estate agent, they would tell you that your bathroom is worth as much as the storage space inside it. Admittedly, a water room requires a lot of storage space needs to be “smart,” i.e. accessible.
Seniors find it hard and painful to stretch and bend to reach something as simple as a towel or a toothbrush. Storage units, such as hanging cabinets or the shower caddy, should be easily reachable, while too high or too low storage area should be used for storing other materials, such as the monthly supply of washing powder.
When seniors drop a bar of soap, leaning down to get it can be a painful experience. Luckily, there is a liquid soap that is poured into a dispenser and mounted onto a wall, just like you see in public restrooms.
In fact, you can place such a dispenser inside the shower cabin as well. You will save room for shower gel bottles and other chemicals. Moreover, the elderly can refill the dispensers themselves, without the help of another individual.
Take care of the lighting level
The loss of vision is one of the medical conditions associated with old age. That’s why lighting levels inside the bathroom need to be high. In this sense, overhead lighting is not the best illumination. It is wiser if you placed an LED strip around the vanity mirror. This will prevent cuts during shaving for instance. Ideally, there should be several light sources inside the bathroom, so the shadow effect would be decreased to a minimum.
The use of colours
As a person’s vision fades, they are more likely to recognize strong colours than inscriptions. You can apply this tactic in the bathroom by adding contrasting colours to demarcate different sections of the water room. You can alternate between glossy finishes and matte ones to create a contract that will warn seniors where the dangers in the bathroom are (glass doors, raised steps, etc.).
Designing a senior-friendly bathroom isn’t particularly hard, as all of the design features already exist; all you have to do is combine them the right way. From grab rails for safety to contrasting colours, the water room can become an oasis inside the house for every senior.