As the Baby Boomer generation ages and the US birth rate declines, the average age of Americans is steadily increasing. And while increased life expectancy is certainly not a bad thing, it does raise more frequent issues relating to health and accessibility later in life. One of these concerns involves safety and accessibility in private residences, as more and more senior citizens opt to age in place instead of moving to a retirement or care facility. But what does a safe and accessible bathroom really look like? Here are three features it should have.
No Narrow Areas
Tiny water closets are quite common in master bathrooms, giving you privacy while allowing your partner to use the other parts of the bathroom. And while that privacy may be nice, that tiny space can become inaccessible as your mobility declines, particularly if you come to rely on a walker, cane, or even a wheelchair. An accessible bathroom should have enough space for you to navigate and turn with your mobility device in front of the toilet without banging into the walls.
The rest of your bathroom should be devoid of any areas that are too narrow to be accessible as well. This includes tight turns into your walk-in closet, a tight space between the toilet and bathroom sink, or a narrow doorway that makes it hard to get in and out of the bathroom.
Safety Bars Throughout
There are many areas in the bathroom where safety bars are essential for good accessibility. First among these is the toilet. Sitting on and standing up from the toilet can be difficult for many senior citizens who have reduced mobility. Sturdy bars or handles that you can grab and use to sit and stand can allow you to use the toilet unassisted without worrying about falling. The two other key areas that need safety bars are the bathtub and the shower. Bars should be mounted both inside and outside these fixtures to assist with exiting and entering, as well as bathing.
Walk-In Tub or Shower
Speaking of the tub and shower, these fixtures should be walk-in models. The tub, in particular, is a major obstacle to those with reduced mobility, as it requires you to climb over a high wall. But the shower—with its slippery floors and the requirement to stand for prolonged periods—can also be a problem. You can opt for a walk-in model on one of these fixtures, both of them, or simply get a walk-in tub-shower combo.
These fixtures have sturdy and accessible seats, low entry steps, and built-in safety bars to improve accessibility. Installing a walk-in bathtub with a showerwill quickly and drastically improve the safety of your bathroom.