Universal Design: Tips to Create an Accessible Bathroom on a BudgetBy
More and more seniors are moving in with adult children, and this trend is also starting to drive a new home remodeling trend, especially in the Professor’s favorite room: the bathroom. Preparing to have an elderly parent move into your home – or even just visit regularly – brings up issues of comfort, safety, dignity and accessibility in the bathroom. Temporary fixes like plastic bathtub seats and toilet frames with elevated seats can be rickety and take up surprising amounts of space that smaller bathrooms just don’t have to spare.
A smart alternative to these options? A bit of bathroom remodeling work focused on universal design. The Professor has found that upgrading to new fixtures built with accessibility in mind can cost less than you might think. Upgrading helps maintain independent living for the elderly, and is a wise investment for even temporary disability circumstances, such as recovering from surgery or a broken bone. Plus: introducing universal design concepts to your bathroom now will allow you to age in place independently in the future.
The Professor humbly offers the following tips to create a bathroom that will look great and work wonderfully for you and your loved ones well into the future.
Switch to an ADA-compliant faucet. Some faucet handles require a surprising amount of force to operate, and knobs can be difficult to twist for seniors. The Professor suggests an ADA-compliant single lever faucet that allows for easy on-and-off operation without the need to grip. This simple and inexpensive alteration will make washing up more comfortable for elderly parents and grandparents, and is also a great excuse to perk up the look of your bathroom.
Try a taller toilet. Standard toilets have a bowl height of about 15 inches, but many manufacturers have recently introduced models that are an inch and a half higher. These taller commodes make sitting down and getting back up less stressful on the body. Bring high style and performance as well as comfort to your bathroom by upgrading to a luxury toilet. The Professor especially likes the elegant ”Right Height” toilets from Porcher available in sleek, easy to clean, one-piece styles.
Think about accessible storage. Keep bathing and grooming accessories neatly stowed out of the way to reduce trips and falls, and to keep them clear of wheelchairs. Accessibility and functionality are key when planning for convenient storage options in the bathroom.
Replace an unused bathtub with a walk-in shower. Holding on to the ability to bathe independently is key to aging gracefully and with dignity. The ubiquitous tub/shower unit in so many homes may be uncomfortably high for the elderly and disabled to step over, and too low to sit down into for bathing. The Professor has found a unique, low-cost solution from American Standard: a walk-in seated shower that features a wide, contoured, full-sized seating area with recessed front to make standing or sitting while showering comfortable and easy. This unit has a low 3” threshold for easy access in and out, plus a built-in wrap-around grab bar for added safety.
Provide a spa-like walk-in tub. Many walk-in tubs are designed to fit perfectly in the space of a conventional tub for easy installation and are now available with luxurious special features. American Standard offers a smart QuickDrain option that removes water eight times faster than a conventional drain, so there is no need for a long, cold wait for the tub to drain before opening the door to exit the bath. Walk-in bathtubs are also available with advanced features like whirlpools and combo massage systems, so bathing can be safer AND more luxurious for aging parents and for you.