Bathroom Accessibility:

The Accessible Bathroom:

The location of at least one full bathroom in the home is one of the most important aspects of livability in a home environment. There should always be at least one full bathroom located on the main floor of the home. If there is not, consider remodeling or adding an additional bath to the primary living level. If there is no way to create a full bathroom on the main floor, contact a specialist to determine the feasibility of adding a chair lift or elevator to create safe access to other levels of the home.

Space Utilization
Having enough room in a bathroom to safely maneuver and care for oneself is another important aspect of livability. Bathrooms should be designed with your potential future needs in mind. If walkers or wheelchairs may be used, there must be enough space between fixtures and around shelving for these devices to be used. Having a shower or tub area with enough space for a person to sit down when tired is an important safety consideration. Also, having enough room for a caregiver to properly assist an individual in the bathroom is another aspect to consider.

Lighting and Electrical
Proper lighting in a bathroom is a key aspect for safety and hygiene in the bathroom. Having enough light to properly maneuver around the bathroom and to adequately care for oneself is an important aspect of independent living. Lights in and around the shower/tub area are very important in preventing slips and falls.

Flooring that is both easy to clean and safe to maneuver on is another important consideration. A high-maintenance floor in a bathroom can be both dangerous and inconvenient for the individuals using the space. An easily cleaned and maintained bathroom floor helps keep the space hygienic and safe. Anti-skid flooring that does not become slippery when wet is extremely important in preventing slips and falls. Any types of throw rugs or carpeting in not recommended for bathroom use.  

Showers & Tubs
Getting in and out of bathtubs is undoubtedly something that gets harder to do with age. If there must be a tub in the bathroom, consider making some important safety modifications. Grab bars should be installed and non-slip tub coatings can be applied. Bathtub walls can also be modified to make getting in and out easier for an individual. If replacing your existing tub is an option, then consider a specialized soaking tub with easy access doors and built in seats. 

Whenever possible, replacing a tub with a large, accessible shower is always a better decision. Roll-in showers (a shower with no barriers and a gentle slope towards the drain) are both beautiful and functional. Accessible shower kits come in ready-made fiberglass panels and only have a 2.5 inch threshold to step over. Also, accessible showers also create more space for the individual to sit when tired and for caregivers to properly give assistance.

Toilets are often a major cause of concern in bathrooms primarily because of improper height. Getting onto and up from a toilet that is too low for an individual can be a major safety issue. Replacing that toilet and adding certain types of grab-bars to the area is oftentimes a quick and easy remedy. There are many different kinds of toilets and toilet accessories today, designed with safety, functionality and style in mind.

Sinks and Fixtures
Easily accessible sinks and fixtures are important burn prevention considerations. Sinks should be installed at a height and in an area that is accessible to everyone, including those individuals using wheelchairs. Lever-handle faucets and pedal controlled faucets are just few of the options available to make sinks easier to use for those with arthritis or functional mobility issues.

Adjustable and hand-held shower fixtures help those who may need to sit to wash safely and effectively. These are also very useful for caregivers when assisting with washing. Whenever remodeling a bathroom for safety and accessibility, make sure the anti-scald controls are installed for sink and shower use.

Counters, Cabinets and Storage
It is important to remember that storage is just as important for safety in bathroom as many of these other considerations. Adequate storage cuts down on clutter, therefore reducing tripping hazards. Storage should be properly located in a bathroom with enough space to move around and with enough accessibility so that a person doesn’t have to strain or reach too far for something.

Cabinets are a large space consumer in the bathroom and are oftentimes difficult for individuals in wheelchairs to use. Large sink vanities should be replaced by wall hung of pedestal sinks, so an individual can roll under it with a chair. The countertops associated with sinks should have a contrasting color from the wall and floor to provide better visibility. Edges of these countertops should be rounded, not pointed.






Top Recommendations:

  • Swap out the shower/tub system for a roll-in or curbless shower system.
  • Think about adding an additional central drain to alleviate wet bathroom floors.
  • Consider installing heated floors or wall-mounted heater units to avoid unnecessary burns.
  • Look into bathroom vents/lights that include a heat lamp option as well.  
  • Choose a pedestal, roll-under, or wall-mounted sink to gain space and accessibility for those who must be seated.
  • Add a hand-held shower head on a slide bar for increased accessibility and ease of use.
  • Pick out non-slip tiles or flooring to decrease likelihood of falls.
  •  Consider replacing wood baseboard and trim with plastic/pvc baseboard for cleaning and maintenance purposes.
  • Replace doorknobs with lever-handles for ease of entry.
  • Make sure the door can be unlocked from the outside.
  • Install pocket doors when possible, instead of traditional doors.
  • Use tilting, wall-mounted mirrors (instead of traditional medicine cabinets) for ease of use.
  • Think about adding a phone to the bathroom in case of emergencies.
  • Install a toilet paper holder that can be changed with one hand.
  • Consider grab-bars as a replacement for towel bars (there are many stylish types and designs today).
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