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Bathrooms

Tubs & Showers

  • Stepping in and out of the bathtub isn’t an issue for most younger people, but it may be riskier as you age. Lifting your foot up and over the tub edge, and the balance required to do that can become difficult in later years. But some people still want a step-in tub for a number of reasons. Others may prefer a stand-alone shower that doesn’t have a tub attached to it.  Then there are curb less shower options no lip on the edge of them, so you can roll a walker, wheelchair, or transfer chair right across the edge. It makes getting in and out very easy and can reduce the risk of falling.

  • Sometimes it makes much more sense to have a moveable chair or bench, so you can enter and leave the shower or tub more easily. In other cases, it may be better to have a built-in option to which you can transfer. The only problem with making this choice is that you don’t absolutely know what specific issues you will have – nor the options you will prefer – in the future. Built-ins, along with enough room for removable selections, can be the way to go If you have the space. This gives you the highest number of choices possible as your needs change over time.

  • Not all shower heads are created equally. Some offer just a standard spray, while others do so much more. The angle of the showerhead also matters, as some of them are designed to rain down water and others shoot water at more of an angle. Both can be good options, and choosing a shower head that allows you to have a selection of sprays in the future can help reduce the chances that you’ll need to make changes or upgrades later. Rain heads can be good for washing if you need to sit down during your showers, but they may also put too much water straight down onto you, and that might not be comfortable.

Toilets

  • There are two common “aging in place” issues with toilets. First, getting up and down from the seat may become more difficult. Second, many bathrooms aren’t equipped to help people who need extra assistance getting up and down. Some people may have trouble keeping themselves as clean as they did when they were younger, and they may struggle to handle that issue without dealing with the embarrassment of asking other people to help them in the bathroom.

  • Another thing to consider if you don’t want to replace your current toilet is an add-on piece that simply attaches to the seat and makes it taller. If you share your bathroom with someone else who doesn’t need a taller toilet, or if you have a newer or more expensive model you just don’t want to replace right now, an add-on can be a good compromise and make things easier for you if and when you need the extra help. Installing grab bars or rails next to the toilet can also help you stand up and sit down more easily, whether or not you choose to change the toilet’s height.

Vanities & Sinks

  • If you ever use a wheelchair, you’ll want that space underneath the vanity so you can roll up to the sink and do things like washing your hands and brushing your teeth. That means making the sink counter a little lower than average, but it doesn’t take much to get used to, and it’s well worth it for future planning.

    • Be sure to make the countertop a size that’s easy to reach, even at the back, and adjust the placement of the mirror where you can see it clear whether you’re sitting or standing. That way you’ll be ready for the way things currently are, and also for the way they could potentially be in the future. It’s hard to plan for every eventuality, but the vast majority of aging issues can be planned and prepared for. That will give you peace of mind, and can also help you feel more confident about staying in your home.

Bathroom Doorways

  • Not all bathroom doors are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or a walker. Most will allow for what’s called a transfer or transport chair, but that isn’t the same. Even with a transport chair, you would need someone to wheel you around. A traditional wheelchair, on the other hand, allows the user to move and steer themselves using arm strength. Fortunately, it’s not generally that hard to widen a bathroom door. Unless it’s located right up against a wall where things really can’t be moved, you should be able to expand it a few inches and allow for the level of clearance you need. Which side of the door you expand doesn’t matter.

Especially if you live alone, falling in the shower or the bathroom can be physically devastating. It is also a frightening experience, and a lot of time can lapse before anyone discovers that you need help. Sometimes you can address this problem without making significant changes to your property. These include alarm systems that alert people to a fall or arrange for someone to check on them at least once or twice a day.

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