We often hear of bathroom accidents, where primarily older adults are involved in unfortunate accidents. Bathroom accidents can lead to severe injuries that can sometimes be fatal. Per the National Institute of Aging, 1 in 3 senior citizens over 65 years suffer a fall each year, and 80% of these events occur in bathrooms. Slippery flooring, cluttered spaces, poor lighting, and other essential installations make bathroom space very dangerous, primarily if an elderly individual uses it.
Thankfully, there are a few adjustments that you can make when designing a bathroom for an elderly person. Here are some valuable tips to keep in mind when thinking of bathroom designs for the elderly.
One of the first things to consider is to make the bathroom easily accessible. Keep in mind a clear path that has no obstruction or barriers. Do not keep shoes, rugs, or other items on the floor to avoid tripping or falling over. You must ensure that the pathway leading to the bathroom is free of clutter. Also, ensure that the doorknobs used are easy to open and not complicated.
Yes, this is of utmost importance when designing a bathroom. Anti-skid flooring is necessary when designing a bathroom for the elderly and when renovating any bathroom. Most bathroom accidents happen when people try to get in or out of a shower or tub. Since it’s a slippery area covered with soap and water, you need to ensure that you have anti-skid flooring installed. There are plenty of options like epoxy, ceramic, rubberized floors, and cementitious boards that offer an anti-skid surface. Non-slip mats are also helpful and can be placed on the bathroom floor. However, make sure that the bathroom mat is firmly placed on the floor to avoid falls.
Due to poor strength and reduced muscle tone, making the toilet seat comfortable for the elderly is essential. Install a western toilet seat that is not too low, as a higher one can help with movement, especially sitting down and getting up. It is advised that a toilet seat for the elderly must be designed a little higher than usual. You can do this by wedging the current toilet seat. Of course, you must also ensure that the toilet seat is strengthened securely to the wall or floor.
Grab bars are helpful during critical times. They assist the elderly when sitting or taking a shower. Avoid using bathroom accessories that come in the way or are not suitable for the user. Towel bars are extremely dangerous and should not be installed in the bathroom of an older person. The grab bars must be stainless steel or aluminium, and they should be appropriately secured. These bars are usually installed in the shower or close to the toilet. If a bathroom is spacious, install grab bars along the empty walls, so the person can hold onto them for support when getting into the shower or sitting on the toilet.
Another vital thing to keep in mind when designing a bathroom for the elderly is to keep it less cluttered. Toothpaste, lotions, shower gels, and other items kept in the bathroom can sometimes lead to a lot of clutter. If counters and shelves are filled with these items, there’s a high possibility of knocking them down, resulting in an elderly person tripping and falling. Suppose you have an elderly person living with you. You must ensure that not only the bathroom but the entire house is decluttered. Also, products and items that are used daily must be kept within easy reach and access.
Low Maintenance Bathrooms
Maintenance is another thing to keep in mind when designing a bathroom for the elderly. Low-maintenance bathrooms that do not need a lot of hard work to keep clean and tidy are the best. High-maintenance bathrooms are a strict no for the elderly as they do not have the time, energy, or patience to maintain them. Try to avoid glass doors and walls that require upkeep. Simple bathrooms are the best options to go in for when designing bathrooms for the elderly. Matt-finish wall tiles and faucets that require high maintenance should be avoided.
Take Care of Lighting
You must ensure that the bathroom is well-lit. Choosing the proper lighting and colour is equally important when it comes to bathroom designs for the elderly. One highly mistaken concept is that overhead lighting is the best way to brighten up bathroom space. However, this can be very problematic for an elderly person. Overhead lighting casts shadows, and areas like under the cabinets or behind the shower curtains do not get enough light. Hence, you must have multiple lights installed in all areas in the bathroom so it’s well-lit during the night or whenever required.
These simple suggestions will significantly help to reduce accidents. Most importantly, the elderly will have peace of mind and also live confidently and independently. If you’re looking for some help in renovating your space, then make sure to check out HomeLane. This end-to-end home interiors brand helps homeowners’ set up their personalized home interiors in a predictable and pocket-friendly manner. With 3D visualization and expert advice, you can set up your dream home in an affordable way.