Archive for universal design
January is Bathroom Safety Month! This may not seem like the most exciting or important observance, especially compared to widely celebrated holidays like World Toilet Day. However, the Professor recently read some very sobering statistics that should make anyone reevaluate the importance of investing in home furnishings and fixtures designed to help keep seniors safe and steady, especially in the bathroom. A few examples:
- 70% of home accidents occur in the bathroom
- Every 2.3 seconds, an adult aged 65 or older suffers a fall
- 40% of those hospitalized from hip fractures do not return home
Whether you are making arrangements to have an aging parent move into your home or simply wish to plan ahead to grow older independently in your own home, incorporating universal design features into your home can be a wise idea. Fortunately, there are many ways to help prevent slips and falls, even while maintaining a stylish and luxurious bathroom.
One task that can be especially dangerous for older adults – and anyone with limited mobility, such as after an injury – is getting in and out of the bathtub. According to a recent report submitted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 370 Americans suffer bathtub or shower-related injuries every day.
An increasingly popular solution to this issue is to upgrade to a walk-in bath. Modern walk-in tubs are attractive and available with luxury options like air bath and whirlpool features. The Professor is also impressed by the special Quick Drain option available on American Standard’s line of walk-in baths that drains water from the tub in less than 2 minutes, so there’s no need for a long, cold wait before exiting the tub.
Ready to start making your bathroom a safer, more comfortable place to be? The Professor is pleased to offer the chance to win a single-control JADO Hatteras faucet to help you do just that. The stylish faucet meets the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines and is also WaterSense-certified. For your chance to win, just answer the following questions in the comments. The Professor will choose his favorite response on 2/3/12 as the winner.
1. What are some creative ways you gear up your bathroom to be a safe place for children and the elderly to use?
2. What creative remedies have you found to protect against falls on a slippery tub or floor?
3. What are some changes you have made to your home that will allow you to “age in place”?
4. Thinking of safety with the other end of the age spectrum, what are the best ways to baby-proof a bathroom? What are your favorite kid-friendly safety devices?
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.
The growing “aging in place” segment of the remodeling industry has caught the Professor’s interest before, and now that the wise folks at Consumers Digest have weighed in on the current offerings of walk-in baths, it seemed like the perfect time to revisit the subject. Three different walk-in tubs from American Standard received recognition for their innovative features and the lifetime warranty protecting the door seal on every tub.
Wondering about the benefits of having a walk-in bath at home? Watch the video below.
More and more Americans are choosing to spend their ‘golden years’ living independently in their own homes – a goal that is increasingly possible thanks to the growing number of products and remodeling professionals that are working to make homes more comfortable and accessible to aging adults. This field of interior design is growing so rapidly, in fact, that “CAPS,” or “Certified Aging in Place Specialist” has been created to train professionals in this relatively new design field. The Professor recently sat down with Kalpesh Nanji, Director of Business Development at American Standard Brands and recent CAPS designee, to learn more about the program.
CAPS stands for Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist. The designation program includes three required courses, community service projects, and a commitment to continuing education. The program offers an overview of the skills required to help make homes more accessible for persons with disabilities, persons with progressive conditions, persons whose abilities have changed due to a fall, a stroke, or illness, and also persons who understand that their needs may change in the future and need safe and accessible solutions in their home.
Who created the CAPS program and why?
The program was organized by The Remodelers™ Council of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in collaboration with the NAHB Research Center, NAHB Seniors Housing Council and the AARP. These organizations agreed that the skills that professionals attain by completing the program would be essential to meet the needs of the 77 million Baby Boomers who will reach retirement age in the first years of the 21st Century. Homeowners can be confident that a remodeler with a CAPS designation has been fully trained to help them remain in their homes safely, independently, and comfortably throughout their maturing years, regardless of their income or physical ability level.
What sort of modifications can you make to a home for someone who wishes to “age in place”?
The bathroom is one room in the home where modifications are particularly important. Bathing can become more dangerous and uncomfortable because of the slippery surfaces involved. Many older adults also find it harder to climb in and out of a bathtub without assistance. This is where products like the Seated Safety Shower and Walk-In Baths can be a tremendous help in allowing older adults to continue their bathing regimens without assistance. Throughout the home, modifications like wider doorways and lever handle door knobs are other important considerations.
Why did you decide to go for your CAPS designation?
Professionals and customers have witnessed years of environments and products which do not work for a wide range of users and needs. They are increasingly looking for products which can meet a variety of needs, and are discouraged when they encounter products which fail to do so, as well as manufacturers who are not educated in these issues. I knew this program would offer me the skills and design knowledge I would need to serve the “aging in place” segment of the residential remodeling industry, which is one of the fastest growing markets in the country. I also strongly support the idea of helping maturing adults to age in dignity and comfort in their own homes, so I am glad to be able to offer educated assistance for our customers and consumers in creating safe and accessible project solutions
Thanks for your time, Kal, and best of luck in your future work in this field.
The Professor is obsessed with toilet performance – no doubt about that – but the interest doesn’t end there. No, the Professor also has an eye for the finer things in life – like bathroom remodeling and style trends, for example. So of course it was a real treat when Gary Uhl, Director of Design at American Standard, offered to share his thoughts on what styles are “hot” right now for bathrooms.
The most surprising trend Uhl has observed is that, in spite of the bold colors and design choices we see becoming popular in the rest of the modern home, more and more consumers are moving back to basic white for their tubs, toilets, and sinks. Why? As Uhl explained, “This is because the range of materials and colors in the bathroom has exploded. You no longer define the color of a bathroom by the tub or the sink. Instead we see wood, metal and glass providing the hue and tone.” This combination of clean, white surfaces next to dark wood makes otherwise traditional pieces look very new and modern, another style trend that Uhl expects to see more of in 2011.
As far as special features go, the Professor was pleased to hear that High Efficiency Toilets (HETs) are gaining popularity. Early models of low-flow toilets were often lacking in flushing power, but as HETs have evolved and gained the reputation for great performance they now have, homeowners have finally begun to embrace them. Over the years they will pay for themselves in savings on water bills, making them a great investment. Uhl noted that American Standard’s Cadet 3 FloWise One-Piece HET uses only 1.28 gallons of water per flush while offering maximum performance. As a one-piece it is already easier to keep clean, but it also comes with an EverClean surface that inhibits the growth of stain and odor-causing microbes.
Another emerging trend, particularly as those style-defining Baby Boomers grow older, is to think of the future and remodel with the concept of “aging in place” in mind. In the bathroom, this means choosing a “right height” toilet or a walk-in bathtub that will still be easy and comfortable to use later in life. And with the spa-like options now available with these pieces (including whirlpools and airbaths), homeowners don’t need to sacrifice luxury when planning for old age.
Still need help putting it all together? The Style Advisor is a great resource to help build a great new bath that suits your individual style to a T.