Bathroom for The Elderly Living Independently
There are a number of factors to take into consideration when you’re planning a bathroom for an elderly person. A simple run-of-the-mill bathroom is likely to be troublesome, unfeasible, and even dangerous for the elderly. Having a functional bathroom suite for a disabled person or elderly users doesn’t have to mean compromising on style and luxury; you can implement an elegant bathroom design that simultaneously has a focus on usability, safety, and comfort and we’re here to show you how.
As a starting point, it’s worth noting that the bathroom’s size should ideally be large enough for wheelchair users to gain entry and move around with ease. In some cases, this will mean extending the door to around 88.5-100cm. When it comes to choosing the right bathroom furniture, we have a range of suite items developed to make life easier; low-level shower trays, high toilets, and accessible shower enclosures will all create a practical, independent experience for those with mobility issues.
What do you need to Consider when Creating Bathrooms for the Elderly and Disabled User?
What Aids are Needed and What Help is There?
Unfortunately, as the body ages, the bones can weaken and inabilities to do certain tasks can start to creep in. Bathing is likely to be the first area of an older person’s physical life that presents a challenge. In order to physically get into the bath, a person needs to have good arm strength and be fairly agile. This action is typical of something which older people tend to have difficulty with.
There’s a wide range of products when it comes to helping an older person in the bathroom. Some are great solutions, whereas others aren’t as necessary. The items that you should not overlook are grab rails, bath lifts and bath boards. The ability to wash independently is one of the core elements that people wish to hold on to. A sense of ‘I can do this’ as well as feeling as though you still have dignity is highly important.
Research What is Available?
The aids that are available can cater to elderly person’s every need. Whether it’s reduced mobility, physical difficulties or long-standing injuries, there’s usually a bathroom solution to assist you. However, knowing exactly what you need and where to obtain it can be difficult. One thing highly inadvisable is to hand over money and access to your home to a complete stranger. As with any purchases, you should seek out the supplier not just trust anyone who comes to the door. For age-related home improvements, there’s an abundance of advice. In addition, there is often funding available and it isn’t difficult to find.
The First Steps to Creating Safer Bathrooms for the Elderly and Disabled
There are local authorities who can provide you with an assessment of the most appropriate bathroom aids for you. This will eliminate the risk of you being charged unnecessarily for items that won’t have any real benefit. In addition to this, many companies who specialise in bathroom equipment for the elderly will have showrooms where you can try the products for size. Some even offer to bring the equipment to your home in cases of more severe disabilities.
In cases where a GP has made a referral for occupational therapy, it’s likely that a grant will be permitted. This means that you won’t have to lose out financially to achieve a decent standard of living. It is always worthwhile to gain some advice from an occupational therapist or to visit a disabled living centre before any adaptations are made to the bathroom. Your needs will be assessed independently and the first steps for the elderly person and their bathroom can begin.
What Alterations Can be Made to Create Suitable Bathrooms for Elderly and Disabled Users?
Usually, a bathroom adaption will begin with the basics, such as grab rails, slip-resistant flooring solutions, and bath seats. Grab rails are a must for an elderly person’s bathroom, and there is a huge selection available. They prevent a person losing balance and subsequently slipping as well as making moving much simpler, i.e. from sitting to standing. Grab rails aren’t terrifically expensive, beginning at around £5 and going up to around £40. The most important thing about a grab rail is that it is both positioned and affixed safely.
A grab rail which suits a person of 6 stone and 5” high, won’t be ideal for someone 6”3 who’s 15 stone. This is why both weight and height, plus an individual’s abilities and strengths, will need to be taken into account. Where the rail is placed is also very important for the user’s safety. This is why you should be present to try the rail in different locations and at different angles, prior to it being implemented.
Often the decision will need to be made of whether an existing bathroom can be simply adapted. Or if a whole new suite needs to be installed. There are several hundred documented bathroom accidents reported by British hospitals each year. The people most likely to be injured are those who are vulnerable such as children and the elderly. Many accidents are minor and don’t result in significant injuries. However, when it comes to an elderly person, what could be seen as ‘minor’ may have much more serious consequences. This is why careful consideration is needed when it comes to the safety of a bathroom. If there’s no alternative to a full renovation then there is no alternative, regardless of inconvenience or expense.
It could be that an elderly person may have to forsake a soak in the bath and have the bath replaced with a walk-in shower. Thus creating more space as well as making washing more manageable. New sinks and toilets may be needed, that are taller, wider and more accessible. In addition, a whole new flooring type could be required. Non-slip lino is much safer than tiles or wooden bathroom floors and can even be cushioned for extra comfort.
Small Changes you can Make
There are ways in which an elderly person’s bathroom can have improved safety, whilst not making a huge difference to the person’s life. For example, the simple installation of an extractor fan. This will remove steam more quickly resulting in a reduced risk of slipping. It will cost very little but make a big difference in the usability of the room.
The use of bath oils can reduce the effectiveness of non-slip mats. In particular, those placed in the bath which will have direct contact with the oils. When they’re not 100% effective, they’re not 100% safe and cannot be relied on to reduce the risk of an accident. Therefore, it’s best to use natural bath products such as non-perfumed soap bars.
It doesn’t have to cost the earth to create bathrooms for the elderly or a disabled person. However, it is advisable to check if you can get help. It is important to have a bathroom that creates better independence for an elderly person. The ability to bathe and use the toilet independently can mean so much to elderly people who still have some mobility. Here at Bella Bathrooms, we have a good selection of items in our easy-access range that can help make the bathroom more usable for elderly people.
The Top Bathroom Features for Disabled or Elderly People
We have compiled a list of the top features you’ll want to be included in your accessible bathroom – from adapted showers to toilets elevated for convenience, we have the products to cover all your needs.
Our first suggestion is to install a walk-in shower. Walk-in showers are designed to reduce the risk of slipping and will help to provide a safe and comfortable bathing solution, all while maintaining a sense of independence for the bather. You’ll want to ensure that the walk-in shower you choose is equipped with safety features which include grab bars, a secure seat, and a low-level anti-slip shower tray. It can also be a good idea to hang a long, weighted shower curtain to prevent water from falling on the floor and causing a slip-hazard.
A popular walk-in shower we stock here at Bella Bathrooms is the Nymas Luxury Exposed Polished Steel Doc M Shower Pack. Finished in a contemporary polished stainless steel, this shower pack incorporates non-corrosive grab rails, a flexible shower head, and a slimline shower seat with a backrest. To control the water temperature, this walk-in shower pack has a thermostatic controller with an extended lever to help with mobility.
Easy-to-Use Disability Baths
Having an easy-to-use disability bath is essential for those with limited mobility. Walk-in baths will often be fitted with a door or they’ll have a bath lift so that the bather can shift their weight onto a higher, supported surface when getting in and out. One of our most popular products in this category is the Moods Easy Access Walk-In Bath; this bathtub has a door to eliminate the need for the individual to lift their legs over the sides. Making the experience of bathing for disabled and elderly people one of independence is crucial and having either a walk-in shower or bath is a practical way to do this.
Shower chairs are able to provide an extra level of stability for elderly people in the shower. They’re designed to create a comfortable resting place while the user is showering, reducing the chances of slipping from a standing position. You’ll also find that some shower chairs are designed to aid in getting in and out of the shower securely too.
We offer several different seats for showers. The Hudson Reed Folding Wooden Seat proves that functionality can be stylish; this modern wooden fixture has chrome wall attachments and can be folded away to maximise space when the shower isn’t in use. If you’re looking for something a little more padded, we also stock the Nymas Black Padded Doc M Seat; manufactured out of aluminium and stainless steel with hygienic polyurethane padding, this is a functional product which can be adjusted to fit the user’s needs.
Handles and Rails
These products provide extra stability and reassurance when moving around the bathroom and getting in and out of the bath or shower. Perfect for reducing the need for external assistance, rails allow for freedom to use the bathroom’s facilities with ease. Our selection of grab rails includes straight bars which can be fixed vertically or horizontally, D-shaped bars, and angled rails depending on your preference.
A comfort-height toilet is adapted to have a higher sitting pan, enabling people with restricted movement to use their toilet comfortably. Identical to regular toilets apart from their difference in height, these toilets come in a wide range of styles.
Our collection includes toilets which come with modern touches such as soft-close seats and they have pans extended by as much as 90mm to reduce the amount of pressure exerted on the knees and other lower body joints.
Additional Considerations for Elderly/ Disabled Bathing
On top of the overview of factors we’ve provided above, there are also a couple of other considerations you’ll want to bear in mind: anti-slip floor solutions and fixtures that will optimise the overall cleanliness of the room.
You may be in the position of having to install a whole new flooring and, if that’s the case, we would recommend opting for a non-slip linoleum. Non-slip lino is much safer than tiles or wooden bathroom floors and can even be cushioned for extra comfort and to reduce impact should an accident occur. Although not the preferred option for many, rubber tiling similarly provides additional grip and will absorb any impact.
Easy to Clean
Opting for wall-hung units can make the process of cleaning considerably easier for the elderly as it eliminates the need to clean behind those awkward pedestals. The previously mentioned forms of anti-slip flooring are also easier to maintain cleanliness and hygiene with than your standard floor.
How Can I Alter my Bathroom for Easy Access for Disabled and Elderly People?
When you’re first approaching the task of renovating a bathroom to make it suitable for the elderly or those with reduced mobility, we understand that it can feel like an overwhelming project. To make things more straightforward, we’ve put together a couple of tips on altering the bathroom to improve its accessibility.
When you’re in the initial stages of planning, you’ll want to determine whether you’re able to adapt an existing bathroom or whether a whole new suite will need to be installed.
Incorporating adequate safety features into the bathroom’s design is an important stage of planning. The risk of injury in the bathroom is increased among the vulnerable and so careful consideration into having enough space for mobility, easily accessible grab bars, and the installation of a shower seat will all reduce the chances of an accident occurring.
Make Small Adjustments
If you’re looking for ways to begin making small-scale adjustments to the safety of an elderly person’s bathroom then we have a few simple suggestions.
Installing an extractor fan is a straightforward task that any bathroom fitter will be able to help you with. Having an extractor fan will remove steam quickly, reducing the chances of the bathroom’s user slipping. Despite costing very little, it will make a big impact on the usability of the room.
Another example of a small adjustment that can be made is the installation of tap turners. Designed for those with weak or painful wrists, these are easily attached to the taps to provide a secure grip.
We have used our expertise in bathroom design to answer some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to planning a bathroom for the elderly.
How do seniors design a bathroom?
Involving your elderly family members in the design of their bathroom is a good way to establish the fact they have independence and control over their living situation. Begin by having a conversation where you can determine which safety options they would most appreciate having incorporated into the design of the room, as well as what their needs are in terms of space for movement, their preference for baths versus showers, and what style of suite would work well with the decor of their home.
How often should an 80-year-old shower?
Showering every day isn’t always going to be plausible for all elderly individuals. For those aged 80 and over, it’s recommended that bathing or showering takes place once to twice a week to avoid skin breakdown and infections.
How can I update my old bathroom cheaply?
There are several ways you can update your old bathroom on a budget. When it comes to the safety options you’ll need for elderly people, ensure that you prioritise the essential adaptations first and then use your remaining budget to install additional, more luxurious fixtures. Grab rails are a low-cost piece of equipment that will make a big difference for elderly people, as are supportive bath cushions, tap turners, and non-slip mats for both the bath and the bathroom’s floor.