As we get older and lose some of our mobility, there remains one room in the house where we want to take care of ourselves and maintain our dignity, and that’s the bathroom. So, it’s important that when we design a room for an older user, we consider ways of making the smallest room in the house the most accessible and comfortable.
There are a number of changes we can make to your bathroom, from simple adjustments to a complete renovation. While a redesign may seem most costly, it does allow us to rearrange the space available and make it as user friendly as possible.
Bath and shower options for elderly users
When climbing up and over the side of a bath may no longer be simple, there are other options to consider. First, and less popular, is replacing your solid bath for one with a door. Mainstream manufacturers tend not to offer these as standard. The downside to a bath with a door is the way they work. You will need to sit inside the bath and wait while it fills, and then wait again while it empties, leaving you wet and potentially cold until you can open the door.
A more popular option is to replace the bath completely with a shower – either a cubicle or a tray-free option, depending on the size of your bathroom. By rearranging the room, we can often fit a walk-in shower which can mean no step up into the shower tray.
Added safety for easier accessibility
A key factor in planning a bathroom for the elderly is safety. Non-slip floors are important for every age, but especially when we are planning a shower area for people who are less steady on their feet.
If you have the space, you may even want to consider adding a seating area to your shower. This helps with both safety and ease of use, as you can sit down while washing ankles and feet – a safer choice than balancing on one foot or bending down.
We’ll also consider grab handles as an option. These can be positioned to help with a step up into a shower tray, or beside a toilet to assist with standing.
Taller toilets for older people
There are simple ways to raise a toilet seat for accessibility, such as adding thicker seats or a framework over the top of the existing seat. However, these can be ugly, and not something you want in your new bath or shower room.
Another option is a taller toilet, known as a comfort height toilet. These are around 80mm taller than a standard toilet, raising the height without an obvious addition, and making it easier for an elderly user to go from standing up to seated, and vice versa.
Small adjustments to your bathroom furniture
For elderly users with back problems, wall-mounted basins and units add additional flexibility. We can fit these specifically to suit the height of the user, which reduces bending and straining the back. By choosing drawers for storage, you can find items you are looking for without having to bend to peer into the back of a cupboard.
When the mobility in your hands is an issue, then we can replace small drawer knobs with handles, which are easier to grip. For the same reason we often replace washer taps, which require turning, for lever taps. These are not only easier to grip, they can turn from fully on to completely off in a quarter of a turn.
Bathroom cleaning options
No matter what shower, bath or basin you have in your bathroom, one job always needs to be done regularly – the cleaning. While we cannot install a self-cleaning bathroom – yet – we can make it a little easier.
As we’ve said before, wall boards are a great option if you want to avoid tiles, and all those grout lines that need regular cleaning to stay bright. However, it is important you choose the right manufacturer to get strong and lasting wall boards, so read our thoughts on this before you choose.
The glass we use in shower cubicles comes from our preferred suppliers and is classed as easy-clean. This, and the boards, make regular maintenance as easy as a daily wipe down with a squeegee, keeping the limescale and soap deposits from building up.
These options all make life a little easier when you start to find your bathroom less user friendly.
But if you have a problem that we haven’t addressed, please do come and talk to us about it at our showroom in Coventry. With over 40 years of experience in bathroom design, we’re sure we have found a solution to most problems you can think of.