As you upgrade your bathroom to accommodate your elderly parents, keep in mind that space is a greater issue as they age. Transitioning from mid-life to senior to elderly, planning for the use of canes, wheelchairs, walkers or similar assistive devices is a good idea. The ideal situation would be to have plenty of clear space to accommodate your parents if they are in a wheelchair for ease around the toilet. Here are some tips to take note when improving your bathroom.
Having the toilet at the proper height can make a significant difference in the comfort and safety of your bathroom. You can choose to either replace your existing toilet with one that is of a suitable height or purchase a seat extender.
Some tips you may wish to keep in mind:
Install a toilet paper holder that is designed for one-handed changing
Place the toilet paper holder in a suitable position that can be reached from a sitting position
A toilet/bidet combination could significantly improve hygiene.
Installing grab bars increase safety in the bathroom. They can assist with sitting and standing. In the tub or shower, they can help your parents to stand (or stay standing) and safely get in and out of the shower. Consider installing several on the interior and exterior of the shower (or tub).
Ideally, grab bars should have a texture to them for easy gripping.
A moveable shower head that could be adjusted to your parent’s height and position comfortably is a great way to add accessibility to a bathroom. Combining it with a hand-held shower head as well as a shower seat will make it much easier to bathe while providing an increased level of safety.
Consider a wheelchair accessible sink that is mounted on the wall as it provides space for your parent’s knees (or wheelchair) underneath a pipe-covering panel to protect your parent’s legs.
Turning a knob can actually be quite a chore, even painful, for someone with arthritis or other conditions. Consider installing lever handle faucets. You also might like to know that there are faucets that are pedal controlled. Both of these allow people of almost all abilities to turn the faucets on and off with ease.
For safety, consider having all water pressure controlled and install anti-scald controls to prevent burns.
For the flooring and shower stall, consider anti-skid tile. If a tub remains, you should have an anti-skid coating put on the bottom of the tub.
Make sure the bathroom door can be unlocked from the outside.
Replace the door knob with a lever handle.
For accessibility, bathroom doors should open out, not in. Pocket doors can also increase the space inside the bathroom.
Install a phone in the bathroom that can be reached from the toilet and the shower/tub area. Cordless phones are easy to add.
For grab-bars and flooring treatment, there is a special scheme called EASE (Enhancement for Active Seniors) that is specific for needy caregivers with elderly parents to subsidise the cost of such improvement. To learn more, please see ‘A Guide to the Subsidies for Caring for the Elderly in Singapore’.
Want more details on the home renovations that are most suitable for your ageing parent? Call SilverAlly at 626-515-00 for a free consultation.