Most of us want to stay in our own homes indefinitely, a dream that can get tricky as we age, especially in one of the rooms that we frequent daily -- the bathroom. The way to turn hope into reality is to start now and create a bathroom with features that are functional and stylish-looking, and that become more essential as we enter our golden years. Here are 5 must-haves to check off of your aging in place renovation checklist, and a few other ideas that aren't as crucial, but will still serve to make life easier when moving around isn't as effortless as it may be now...
1. Flat-Entry (Curbless) Shower
A tub-shower combo presents a tripping hazard when we're older and both agility and balance issues may be at play. A shower stall is the best option, but make sure that it's a curbless shower since even a low curb can potentially be a risk. (If you can't live without a tub, go for one with a door, which is a much safer alternative.)
2. Built-In Shower Bench
Any type of a bench in the shower is better than not having one at all, but a built-in bench with a curved (bullnose) edge is the safest and most comfortable option, especially when you're washing your feet. When combined with the next must-have, it even allows you to sit through your entire shower on days when you might feel a bit less steady on your feet.
3. Hand-Held Shower
A hand-held shower, mounted low enough so that you can reach it from a seated position on your shower bench is definitely a must-have. You can even combine it with an overhead-mounted shower head if feel like standing under the spray for a few minutes when you can do so with both feet firmly planted on the shower floor.
4. Grab Bars
Grab bars both inside and outside the shower or tub give you something sturdy to hang onto when entering and exiting your shower or bath. In fact, installing a grab bar on each of the shower's interior walls will make navigating easier and safer.
5. Comfort-Height Toilet
Standard toilets are 16" high, but you can install a comfort-height toilet that's anywhere between 17 and 19 inches high, making sitting down and standing up easier on your joints.
More Aging In Place Bathroom Renovation Ideas
Other practical bathroom changes might include a wider doorway and better lighting for less strain on the eyes and fewer shadowy areas where you might miss a bit of water on the floor. And speaking of the floor, no matter what type of flooring you choose, make sure that it has good slip-resistance. (Check with the retailer or your contractor if you can't find or don't understand the slip-resistance rating code, which is listed on most types of flooring.)
Think about surfaces when you're planning your aging-in-place bathroom remodel, and try to choose those that are easiest to keep clean. The last thing you need in your later years is a bathroom floor that requires a "hands-and-knees" approach to keep it looking spiffy!
RH Blanchard is a trusted bathroom remodeling contractor in the Boston area offering a full range of services to create a bathroom that looks beautiful and will function safely for years to come. If you're looking to start a bathroom remodel, contact us today!