Elderly couple brushing their teeth in the mirror | Featured image for Designing a Bathroom for Elderly People blog for Akins Plumbing.

Designing a Bathroom for Elderly People

Making the bathroom safe and welcoming is one of the biggest things you can do to help your aging loved one – or yourself if you are planning for your golden years. Improvements big and small create a protected environment. Not everything you might want to do will need the advice and work of a professional plumber, but that is always the way to go for the big changes, or if you’re just unsure how to proceed with a bathroom for elderly people.

7 Modifications and Improvements in a Bathroom for Elderly People

Akins Plumbing is a Brisbane plumber you’ll want to put on your short list. We have years of experience in transforming residential bathroomss into the excellent spaces they should be. We’ve done modifications for elder convenience many times. Not every bathroom needs to be a showplace, but with some work and the right touch, they can all be pleasant and positive environments. Call Akins on (07) 3891 7480, get in touch online, or e-mail admin@akinsplumbing.com.au with quote and service requests or general enquiries.

Make Things More Accessible

Probably the easiest and quickest change you can make. Consider the whole bathroom – are the things most used really easy to get to? Should something in a cabinet be placed instead on a small shelf or other open surface? Do you have to lean too far to reach the towel rack? Does a clothes hamper need to be moved someplace so it won’t partly block the doorway? Bathroom safety for elderly is in the details, and simple changes can make a big difference. This is a good way to get started, because you take in the whole space and start seeing how it could be better for your elder person.

Non-skid Rugs

Most bathroom rugs have soft smooth backings that slide easily, especially on tile floors. This can be a hazard for someone with reduced mobility and balance. Replace with rugs that have rubberised backings that will hold better to the floor. A good thick bathroom rug that won’t scoot around can also be a big help for a caregiver’s knees when assisting with a shower or bath. This is quick and easy, and it’s nice to have new bathroom rugs anyway.

Install Lever Handles

The twisting motion needed to operate conventional taps and doorknobs can become difficult for elderly wrists and arms. Lever handles make it much easier. They come in an almost unlimited range of styles and finishes, and they can often be installed easily. In a bathroom for elderly people, a worn-out tap that needs to be shut off extra-hard to prevent a drip should be repaired or replaced at the same time. A professional plumber will be able to recommend new handles and fixtures for you, and install them quickly, too.

Install Grab Rails

One of the most important improvements you can make to provide bathroom safety for elderly. You will almost always want to install grab rails in the shower or tub. Other places they may be needed are at the sink and toilet. If the elderly person is using a wheelchair, the grab rails will need to allow extra space, and with some planning can also help make it easier to stand up and transition from the wheelchair. Grab rails need to be installed very securely – into wall studs where possible, otherwise with large anchors. Your professional plumber can be your go-to person for grab rail installation.

Shower and Bath

Most serious accidents and falls happen in the shower and tub, so we want to make them as safe as possible. Being able to bathe oneself is key to independence, something we don’t think about too much until ageing makes it a little harder. Needs will vary – from a sturdy shower seat you can buy and install in an afternoon, up to a full walk-in installation for when stepping over shower thresholds and tub edges becomes too risky. You’ll want to consult with a professional for this large modification. A bonus is that many walk-ins will make your sparkling bathroom for elderly people look like a proper mini-spa.

Hand-held Shower Head

Makes getting the water where it is needed much easier, whether standing or sitting. When the water can move around, awkward ducking and twisting and bending with risks of slipping and falls can be avoided. These are so nice to have that they tend to show up in everybody’s shower once people have a chance to try them out. They can usually be installed on a DIY basis.

Raised Sink

Especially important for wheelchair users who will need increased room beneath the sink to accommodate the chair – switching to a wall-mounted sink can provide this accommodation. Elderly users who stand at the sink can also benefit from a sink height increase to reduce bending. Not just a big plus for bathroom safety for the elderly – this may turn out to be more convenient for everyone.

Bringing It All Together

These are just some of the ideas you will want to explore when improving a bathroom for an aging loved ones. You can get started and make a significant difference yourself, but for the best outcome you should seek the advice of a trusted plumbing professional. With 40-plus years of combined service, Akins Plumbing is one of the most experienced residential plumbers Brisbane can offer. Our certified, dedicated team will give your needs the priority they deserve. Get started with Akins by calling on (07) 3891 7480, get in touch online, or e-mail admin@akinsplumbing.com.au for quote and service requests or general enquiries. You want the best for your elderly loved ones, and for yourself. Akins understands.

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