Series: Aging in Place - How to Make Your Home Meet Your Needs

Introduction

Have you considered how your house will meet your needs in your golden years?  Not many people think about how life changes as we age (if you have, congratulations on thinking ahead!).  For example, stairs can become painful to climb, bending to get into cabinets aggravates a back problem, and shower ledges and bathtubs are easier to trip over. 

If you’ve never thought about how you or a loved one might need to use your home differently in the different stages of your life, don’t worry!  We’ve helped many clients make their respective homes more comfortable and safe as they prepare to transition into retirement or deal with health challenges. 

In this series, we will start by sharing some ideas for your bathroom.  Simple changes can improve the usability and safety of the bathroom.  Other changes that call for professional help can further increase ease of use, comfort, and safety.

Part 1: Simple Updates for Your Bathroom

The Shower Bench

Really, a shower bench is lovely at any stage of life!  But, it is especially helpful once it becomes more challenging to bend over or if easily fatigued.  There are many ways to incorporate a shower bench into a bathroom.

Glass walk-in shower with corner shower bench.
Figure 1: A "floating" corner shower bench can be added to small or irregular showers.
Walk-in shower with large built-in bench.
Figure 2: A larger shower bench can be built into a shower for added comfort.
Japanese inspired bathroom with walk-in shower, bench seating, and soaking tub.
Figure 3: A shower bench can be built into a shower and also used as a step to a soaking tub as in this Japanese inspired bathroom.

Handheld Shower Heads

A handheld shower head is another update that makes a great addition to any bathroom.  But, it can be especially helpful for the retirement years because it makes washing and rinsing in the shower so much easier and faster, especially when combined with a shower bench.  The combination of a shower bench and handheld shower head makes bathing so convenient and comfortable.  Handheld shower heads have many options and configurations.  Here are some examples of handheld shower heads installed in our customers’ homes.

Handheld shower installed on wall with bar for easy height adjustment for aging in place
Figure 4: Handheld shower installed on wall with bar for easy height adjustment.
Figure 5: Handheld shower head installed near shower bench
Figure 5: Handheld shower head installed near shower bench
Figure 6: Handheld shower installed as main shower head, yet convenient to shower bench
Figure 6: Handheld shower installed as main shower head, yet convenient to shower bench

Grab Bars

Since it is easier to lose our balance and slip in the bathroom as we get older, it is important to plan ahead for this.  Grab bars strategically placed in the shower, and sometimes other places in the bathroom, make it easier to get in and out of the bathtub, get up from a shower bench, and prevent a fall in the shower.  Grab bars in the past were fairly uniform (and unfortunately, often ugly), but today they come in many different styles and finishes that can add to, rather than detract from, the look of your bathroom. 

Figure 7: A grab bar installed in tub/shower combo makes entering and exiting easier and safer.
Figure 7: A grab bar installed in tub/shower combo makes entering and exiting easier and safer.
Figure 8: Figure 1: A grab bar installed in tub/shower combo makes entering and exiting easier and safer
Figure 8: Figure 1: A grab bar installed in tub/shower combo makes entering and exiting easier and safer
Figure 9: Grab bar placed to assist in shower and in access to Japanese style soaking tub.
Figure 9: Grab bar placed to assist in shower and in access to Japanese style soaking tub.

Next: Aging In Place, Part 2: Low Threshold Showers and Comfort Height Toilets

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