Senior citizens face certain challenges that should be considered when designing a living space. Here are some tips on how to design a bathroom with them in mind.
Choosing the right flooring can go a long way to help reduce the chance for a fall. Carpet could be a choice to consider because it provides extra padding and will not be slippery when wet. However, very plush carpeting could cause trips and may hold moisture which could cause mold to grow.
Non-slip surfaces and vinyl are a better alternative. Vinyl is softer than tile or wood and can be made to look like a variety of surfaces. Look for flooring options that can withstand the heat and humidity of a bathroom and have some cushion. Thick bathroom rugs present another tripping hazard. Instead, opt for stone or teak mats that absorb water with less chance of tripping someone up.
Around the bathroom the cabinets, countertops, and shelving have special considerations that should be given to them as well. Shelving should not be so high that the user cannot reach, and the handles to all cabinets, doors, and shelves should be lever handles. Round knobs become hard to grip for those with fine motor challenges, and even more so when they become wet. Another helpful idea can be to install self-closing drawers and doors. This way, if a resident doesn’t close a cupboard completely, it will do so on its own.
The countertops should be free of clutter and the room should be well lit. Poor lighting can lead to safety concerns, so add recessed lighting or an extra lamp or two. Clutter and debris left around the tub and sink can lead to more safety concerns as well. So use ample shelving and organization systems around the counter to store items safely away.
The fixtures like the bathtub shower and toilet can present some challenges as well. If it is possible, buying a toilet that is a few inches taller will greatly reduce the chance for a fall, as will installing grab bars near the area. In the shower no-slip stickers on the bottom of the tub, balance bars inside the shower, and installing a sturdy door instead of a curtain can help provide users with added stability.
A walk-in bathtub shower is an excellent idea, and using a shower chair can be very helpful as well. If you don’t want to put a chair inside the shower, providing one outside of it and nearby so bathers can sit while dressing can be a helpful alternative. With a few conscious choices you can design a bathroom that is not only fashionable, but highly functional for senior citizens.