The common perception of safety in the bathroom brings visions of industrial-looking grab bars. After you read this article I hope that your mind opens up and considers the vast amount of opportunities we have to make our bathrooms a safe place. Then give consideration to life changes… accidents with temporary disabilities, aging effects on eyesight, mobility or permanent challenges such as the use of a cane, wheelchair or walker. Here are a few ways that you can improve comfort for the entire family while minimizing the risks of an accident.
Replace your old shower valve with a non-scald version. Scalding is one of the most serious injuries and the easiest to prevent the installation of a pressure and temperature balanced system. It will immediately stop the issue of the person showering getting scolded when another person flushes the toilet or uses the washing machine.
Add a bench in your tub and/or shower. It is not only convenient for shaving legs, but also for those who are challenged to stand with great stability.
Change round/knob style faucets to lever-handled faucets. They are much easier to use by someone who has diminished strength, arthritis, etc.
Add a hand-held showering system on a sliding bar. You can easily retrofit this option with a diverter at your existing shower arm/head. Or if you are taking on a complete renovation, use a diverter valve in the wall to transfer the water to/from the showerhead, tub spout, body sprays or any other outlet with your design. The sliding bar is advantageous for the entire family including those who need to sit down while bathing, or to have a more efficient showering height for children.
Install grab bars in the tub, tub/shower and near the toilet. There are numerous models on the market to suit any motif, whether modern, traditional or transitional. In the tub, they should be mounted horizontally at 33-36″ from the floor. Vertical installation at the entrance is a great aid stepping in and out for children and adults.
Verify the exhaust fan has ducting to the outside (not just the attic) to avoid condensation and mildew. Mold is hazardous to your health and with the proper use of a fan during a shower you can avoid excessive moisture that can lead to mold. Timers are an option that allows you to leave the fan running for 10 minutes without worry about remembering to return to shut it off. Additionally, there are new fans available that turn on automatically!
Upgrade the tissue holder to double as a handrail. The Invisia Collection is rated up to 350 lbs and has an interchangeable Corian shelf.
Other areas of consideration if you are remodeling the entire room: clip or radius corners of the countertops, do not design the tub with steps, increase the color contrasts with transitions both vertically and horizontally. Add higher wattage light bulbs to existing fixtures or considering upgrading or adding additional lights. Old age means decreased vision, adding lights wherever possible will be a great asset.
For more information, consider hiring a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist to help cultivate your design.