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A New Era in Home Safety: How to Make Your Bathroom Accessible for the Elderly

In Canada, the number of people aged 85 and older has increased by 12% since 2016, making it one of the country’s fastest-growing age groups. And as more seniors are living longer, an increasing number of people are expected to experience physical limitations and challenges.


For the majority (78%) of Canadians, aging in their current homes is much more desirable than moving into a retirement community, and 83% of seniors see home modifications as a more cost-effective solution.


Various areas of the home can be modified to increase accessibility, but the bathroom is one of the most important to get right. In this post, we’ll explore the reasons why and offer advice to help homeowners achieve the best results.


Why Accessible Bathrooms are Important for Home Safety

Accessible bathrooms can significantly improve home safety for elderly residents, particularly those who may be living with limited mobility.


Climbing into or out of a bathtub can be challenging, if not impossible, for people with a limited range of motion or arthritis. And taking a shower may be out of the question if you struggle to stay standing (even for a few minutes) or use a wheelchair.


Simply walking from one side of the bathroom to the other can also be risky if there is water on the floor or surfaces. Without assistance from a caregiver or loved one, or something to hold onto, even a moderately slippery tile can pose severe danger.


However, a small number of modifications can transform your current bathroom into an accessible space suitable for yourself or elderly members of the household. Various modifications are available to suit diverse physical requirements, from grab bars to roll-in showers (showers with no curb). A reputable supplier will assess your bathroom and recommend the right modifications for your physical needs.


The Cost of Not Having Accessible Bathrooms in Your Home

Falls are the top reason for injury-related visits to emergency departments among older adults in Canada. Falls occur in the home or a care environment most often and are believed to cost an estimated $2 billion annually.


Injuries related to a fall can have a significant effect on an elderly person’s life. A broken hip, for example, may leave them unable to walk for long periods and restrict their independence.


Elderly homeowners may require at-home care following a fall, and that could prove costly. They might be unable to perform household chores, such as cleaning or gardening, and need to hire a professional to handle them instead. That, too, would cost money.


However, making modifications to improve bathroom accessibility can help to reduce the risk of a fall and the resulting upheaval. Creating an accessible bathroom empowers elderly people with safer, more convenient facilities, enabling them to bathe, brush their teeth, and use the toilet with greater peace of mind.


Enhancing bathroom accessibility incurs expense, particularly for extensive modifications, but improved safety is worth the cost.


Top 5 Things to Consider When Building an Accessible Bathroom


Modify Your Bathroom to Accommodate All Activities (Not Just the Most Frequent)

You may be tempted to modify your bathroom with the activities you perform most frequently in mind, such as using the toilet or taking a shower. But take the time to consider everything else that you and other elderly members of your household do.


For example, medicine cabinets may need to be moved to a lower position on a wall or grab bars may be necessary next to a laundry hamper to keep you safe while putting clothes in or taking them out.


Significant Modifications are Worth Temporary Upheaval

The prospect of making a modification on a large scale, such as installing an accessible shower, may be off-putting initially. However, the temporary upheaval will be worthwhile.


For example, an accessible shower can transform an elderly person’s bathroom experience. The danger created by traditional bathtubs and showers is eliminated. Whether the user relies on assistance from a caregiver or loved one or is able to live independently, these amenities are key components in an accessible bathroom.


A reliable supplier will discuss the modification process with you in detail and ensure that it creates minimal disruption. They will also take the time to help you find the ideal products for your accessible bathroom, offering the best value for money.


Consider Modifications that May Be Essential in Future

When considering design guidelines for accessible bathrooms, it’s easy to focus on your immediate requirements. But think about how your needs could change in future. You may be able to walk safely across the bathroom without relying on a handrail now, but will you still be able to in five years? Ten years?


Work with your supplier to consider the possibilities. An experienced team will be able to identify opportunities to futureproof your bathroom and add modifications as required.


Is Entry to the Bathroom Safe, or Does It Need Improving?

Doorways throughout the home may need to be widened to allow a wheelchair through safely. If you or a loved one uses a wheelchair, your bathroom door should be modified for easy entry. That will eliminate the need to be lifted out of it beforehand and improve privacy.


Consider All Options Available

A bathroom accessibility expert may suggest modifications you have never considered, such as lowering mirrors to suit a wheelchair user or transforming the lighting to improve visibility.


Certain modifications can be underestimated even though they have the power to create a safer bathroom, so be open to suggestions when discussing design guidelines for accessible bathrooms.


Conclusion

Improving bathroom accessibility may be complicated at times, but it can make a major difference to a person’s life. Making these types of home adaptations will also add instant value to your home, both in ease of use now and resale value in the future.


Total Access Solutions has more than 30 years of experience in providing homeowners with the latest modifications, including small additions (e.g. grab bars and lifting devices) to full bathroom conversions. Contact us today to find out more.

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