How to remodel your bathroom for an elderly loved one

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When you assume the role of caregiver to an elderly loved one, that person may come to live with you. Among the other responsibilities you will take on, it’s your job to ensure that he or she is safe in your home. This may mean remodeling certain parts of the house for the senior’s ease of use. One of the rooms you will probably have to focus on is the bathroom. Take a look at some of the bathroom renovations you may need to make when you invite a senior to come live with you: 

“You may need to make bathroom renovations to keep your senior safe.”

Install a detachable shower head 
Many seniors have limited mobility. This can make showering and bathing difficult. Installing a shower head that can be detached for easier use can allow seniors to retain some of their independence in the bathroom. Be sure they can reach up to detach it, or if not, use a removable hand shower mounted on a bar that they can easily reach.

Lay down non-slip surfaces
Of all the hazards that await seniors in the bathroom, falling is one of the most dangerous. If your bathroom has slippery surfaces, it is time for some adjustments. Consider installing textured tile to give your senior more grip when he or she gets out of the shower or tub. You can also select showers and tubs with non-slip bottoms to reduce the fall risk.   

This modified shower space is perfect for seniors with mobility issues.
This modified shower space is perfect for seniors with mobility issues. 

Put in grab bars 
Another great way to reduce the risk of falls and assist your senior with mobility is to install grab bars along the walls. Ideal locations for these assistive features include near the toilet, tub and shower and along the wall near the sink. If there is an area where your senior might need assistance, it’s a good idea to install a grab bar there. You can even choose a material for your grab bars that complements the rest of your bathroom design style. 

Ensure wheelchair or walker accessibility 
Does your bathroom have a raised lip on the threshold? Are the sinks tall? These design elements could prove difficult for seniors in wheelchairs. Have the lip removed and replaced with a flat transition surface. You should also consider adding a shorter sink that can be easily reached by anyone in a wheelchair. A tub that has an easy-access door can also make bathing simpler for seniors with wheelchairs. Widen the doorway if needed. Even if your loved one is not in a wheelchair, a walker can be prohibitive and difficult to maneuver through a standard 24″ doorway.

Provide ample lighting
As we age, it becomes more difficult to see and seniors tend to need brightly lit spaces to carry out everyday tasks than others. Be sure you have sufficient, if not extra, lighting over the vanity and a vapor proof light in the shower. If it is a large bathroom, you may even consider high hats as well. It is also more difficult to distinguish one surface from another if they are similarly colored. When choosing materials for an elder’s bath try to provide contrast between the floor and other surfaces that may have small steps.

Fixtures and accessories that function
Remember to let them try to turn on faucets and test handles before your final selections. Many seniors have arthritis or limited mobility and my need larger pulls or levers that are easier to operate.

You can’t always anticipate when you’ll become a caregiver to an elderly loved one, but when you do, it’s your job to make sure that your senior is safe and comfortable in your home. Doing a bathroom remodel to make the area more senior-friendly will help increase the safety of your loved one and allow him or her to use the bathroom without fear of injury. 

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