December 3

Bathroom Redo: 8 Tips for Accommodating Aging-in-Place

Rick Banas, Vice President of Development and Positioning for Gardant Management SolutionsThe in-laws that we visited over the Thanksgiving weekend are planning a major remodeling of the bathroom off their master bedroom. They are in their early 70s and want to be able to continue to live in their home and avoid a move to assisted living or a nursing home for as long as possible.

Their house sits on 80 acres of glacial hills and kettles that were carved out during the last Ice Age. They have restored some of the property into prairie, housing native plants and grasses. There is a hardwood forest. And a portion of the property is used for organic farming.

No wonder they are willing to spend the money to gut and redo the bathroom and entrance to their bedroom.

They had just started the planning process, so they asked that I review the pencil drawings and provide recommendations.

Here are eight tips that we discussed that I thought you might find helpful:

  • Install either a roll-in shower or a shower that has only a small lip that you need to step over to get in and out of the shower. Install a hand-held shower head.
  • The doorways into the bedroom and into the bathroom should be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or motorized scooter. You should have at least 32 inches of clearance, with 36 inches being ideal. Don’t forget: the width of the doorway not only has to accommodate the width of a wheelchair but also your arms, especially your elbows, maneuvering the wheelchair through the doorway.
  • Your bathroom should accommodate the turning radius of a wheelchair or scooter. 36 inches of clearance is needed.
  • Install pull-out shelves in the cabinets so that you can pull the shelf out to you rather than having to reach inside.
  • Install cabinetry under the sink that can be easily removed in case you need to maneuver a wheelchair or scooter up to the sink at some point in time in the future.
  • Be sure non-slip flooring material is used.
  • Install grab bars around the toilet and shower. If you are concerned about creating an institutional appearance, designer grab bars are now available. If you insist on not having grab bars installed now, be sure whoever is doing the remodeling makes provisions for the installation at a later date. Wood blocking should be installed behind the drywall where the grab bars will be located. Keep on file documentation – drawings, pictures, video – of where the wood blocking is located.
  • Install a toilet that is 19 inches rather than 17 inches in height from the floor to the top of the seat.

Do you have any comments or other ideas?

– Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

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