The first thing you need to do is add grab bars to the bathroom space. Grab bars add additional support for seniors as they enter and exit the shower. They also add additional support to hold on to when they are in the shower. Grab bars need to be installed properly. Hire an age in place specialist, a contractor that specializes in age in place remodeling as they will ensure the grab bar is installed correctly.
If you can financially afford it replace the bathtub with a stand up shower and built in shower seat. If this is not feasible add a shower seat to the bath tub. It is incredibly difficult for seniors to enter and exit a bathtub. It is better to install a walk in shower space that offers a zero entry design. This along with the addition of a shower seat and grab bars is the safest option for the seniors.
Cabinet hardware in the bathroom should be changed from knobs to pulls. Seniors with arthritis will have a difficult time wrapping their hands around small knobs. Cabinet pulls are easier for them to grasp and don’t require your hand to curve around the hardware. Also lever handles are better on the bathroom door to allow for an easier entrance and exit into the space.
In order to access the supplies within the bathroom it is best to install shelving that pulls out. This allows for easier access to the items in the back of the cabinets which makes getting access to what they need less complicated. Pull out shelves are also a great idea for age in place remodeling with in the kitchen as well.
Another consideration to make is the placement of the electrical outlets and switches. Seniors that are aging may need a wheelchair or walker accessibility. Make sure that the outlets and lights are within reach at the lower height requirements. Don’t make it so that aging seniors have to stretch to turn lights on and off. The goal is to remain independent and this requires access.
Vision decreases throughout the aging process. With that in mind the need for extra lighting becomes essential in the bathroom. Add extra lights in the shower, above the vanity and throughout the space. A light over the toilet can help as well. Recessed lighting can be a life saver when designing for a bathroom remodel.
Making the necessary renovations and accommodations to allow seniors to age in place allows for safety while continuing to live independently. This is especially important as we continue to live longer.