Home Design for an Aging Population

Plan Ahead with Five Bath Design Tips

Every single day more than 10,000 Baby Boomers reach the age of 65, and this trend will continue every single day for the next 19 years. What this means for home design is that a lot of seniors are and will be "aging in place" due to current economic situations and desires. Aging in place is the ability to live in one's own home as one ages into their senior years, a preference that has significantly grown in popularity and is actually celebrated in October with National Aging in Place Week.

Age In Place www.FrankWebb.comIn the past, if someone had difficulty living by themselves, it was a signal that now was time to move in with family or go to a nursing home. But, for most people, that no longer is the case. Today, you can live on your own for many years, even as you grow older and start needing help with everyday tasks.

As more aging residents plan to stay in their homes, they will be looking for innovative ways to make their homes more accessible and comfortable. After outdoor upkeep, the kitchen and the bath are the two areas most in need of improvements. Space doesn't get more personal than the bathroom. You use it countless times every day. It should be comfortable, attractive and safe. There are simple bath improvements everyone can make with aging on the mind even if you are still in your 30s or 40s.

Happily, gone are the days of institutionalized, "handicapped" bathrooms with metal hand grips and unattractive showers. Today, homeowners don't have to sacrifice style when creating a bath for a person requiring accessible living features. There is an exciting array of products now available from various manufacturers that allow you to build or remodel a bathroom with accessible design features without compromising the value of your home. There are also more traditional products, like wall-hung sinks and tile showers, which can be used in innovative ways to afford you a more elegant answer to your accessible design needs.

  • First, plan ahead during a remodel by placing backings in walls for future grab bars to avoid ripping out walls later. Grab bars today are more decorative and are no longer institutional. In fact, you can match them with towel bars. By installing lever handles instead of round knobs you can help prevent challenges if you develop arthritis. These two simple steps during a remodel can really go a long away.
  • Future wheelchair access is crucial when it comes to bathrooms. This goes beyond ensuring doorframes are wide enough for wheelchairs. By placing a cabinet under the sink that can later be removed allows for wheelchair access to the sink. There are a number of attractive sinks on the market today that allow for wheelchair access. Low storage units are also available allowing for easy access to beauty supplies and medicines.
  • Lighting is critical in any bathroom and should not be overlooked when planning a bathroom for the elderly. By placing lighting to the left and right of a mirror it is easier to see your face without glasses. Lights can also be installed in the shower to ensure you are never left in the dark. When installing light switches ensure there are low enough to be reached by those in wheelchairs.
  • A major trend in bath design is installing a shower instead of a bathtub. This includes those building bathrooms with aging in mind. A shower is more accessible for wheelchair access and is easier to get in and out of. In addition to an overhead showerhead, install a hand held shower with multiple location heights for easy use. Also install a shower bench. Shower benches are no longer institutional looking; they are actually spa-like, available in various designs such as bamboo. it is also important to consider the height of curb to step into a shower. The curb should be low as it becomes more difficult to step up as you age.
  • Lastly, consider the height of your toilet. Install an elevated toilet for ease of use. These are referred to as "comfort height" toilets and come in many design choices today.

People can now think about accessible living products in a much more elegant way. Consulting your local contractor is the most effective way to ensure your design needs are met. As a result of the growing trend, there are contractors that are certified in aging in place design and should be used as a resource. These are trained experts that know about the latest products and how to make your bathroom work best for you for years to come. Being able to use a bathroom independently is important at any age.