If you’re retired or approaching retirement, chances are there’s a remodeling project you’ve been considering for your house, apartment or condo. When deciding where to begin, you should look no further than your bathroom, a space that can be a hazardous area in the home and should be customized to properly fit this phase of your life.
For many seniors, the notion of "aging in place" is the driving force behind this type of project. Simply put, to “age in place” means remaining in one’s own home throughout one’s retirement years. The key to achieving this goal is finding the right combination of functional safety upgrades designed with subtle and clever innovations. What’s most practical about this adaptable design approach is that the changes can be done progressively, as your safety and mobility needs change.
Across the industry, we’ve seen leaps forward in terms of the ways in which the "aging-in-place" bathroom is designed. While adapted bathrooms used to have a sterile hospital-like feel that favored pure functionality over design inspiration, these days there are upgrades in design and products that allow you to address your needs in a way that suits your own aesthetic.
There are some general changes one can make to their bathroom to significantly improve safety without compromising on style. Rethinking the doorway is a good place to start - a wider doorway will provide easier access, while levers instead of knobs will facilitate the opening and closing of doors. When it comes to lighting, look to reduce glare by avoiding overhead lights and, whenever possible, find ways to bring natural light into the space.
Easy access to everything should be a priority – with a combination of open shelving and easy-to-access glass-front cabinet doors, you can create a streamlined and safe bathroom experience. Another general tip would be to seriously consider installing slip-resistant floors – choosing a tile with some texture to it will help secure this potentially dangerous feature of the room.
Before going deeper into product specifics, it’s important to note that the "aging-in-place" solutions allow you to add accessories to your shower and bath as you age. Instead of a complete renovation, which can be costly and complex, you can keep costs lower and keep the process simpler by only adding supportive accessories as they become necessary due to your changing physical condition. For example, you can find a stylish shower solution that will always look good and rest assured that, when needed; small upgrades and accessories can be easily added to the shower to improve your bathing experience as you age.
When it comes to showers, start by finding one with a base with little-to-no threshold, good lighting and textured flooring to reduce slipping which will be of great help for anyone with mobility issues. Then, as you age, you will be able to add seating in the shower, load-bearing grab bars, as well as a shelf and/or cubby to keep all of your toiletries easily accessible.
Whether you choose a drop-in or freestanding tub, you’ll obviously be looking for some of the same functional features available with a shower. You’ll want easy access, which you’ll find by choosing lower height bathtubs for easier entry, textured flooring to reduce slipping, and a tub that provides easy and secure seating.
As mentioned earlier, there have been a lot of advancements in the professional design of some of these functional features, so, as you approach your "aging-in-place" remodel, don’t feel that you have to sacrifice style for safety.