Senior Bathroom Makeover Tips For Charlotte, NC, Homeowners

Making Your Home Safe And Comfortable For Every Season Of Life

When updating a bathroom for a senior or older adult, safety is the most critical consideration. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falling accidents are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in senior citizens.

A senior bathroom remodel is primarily about increasing safety. The makeover may include non-slip mats, grab bars in the shower, bright lighting, a raised toilet with grab bars, and safe shower seating. It may also include the installation of a walk-in tub or shower.

Completing a senior-friendly bathroom makeover is not just for the senior’s primary residence. Falls frequently occur while visiting family and are preventable by installing safe updates for seniors to use. This article will cover the items needed to complete a senior bathroom makeover.

Senior Bathroom Makeover Tips Overview

  1. Grab Bars: Installed at 33-36 inches from the floor around the toilet, in the shower, and on necessary walls.
  2. Non-Slip Rugs or Mats: Mats with a strong grip in the shower and bath areas.
  3. Raised Toilet Seats: Higher seats for easy sitting and standing, potentially equipped with handles.
  4. Walk-In Showers: Minimal or no curb to facilitate easy entry and exit from the shower.
  5. Shower Seats: Sturdy seating in the shower at a comfortable height.
  6. Walk-In Tubs: Easy access tubs with built-in seats and handrails.
  7. Enhanced Lighting: Bright, possibly motion-sensing lights around key areas like the toilet, shower, and sink.
  8. Non-Slip Flooring: Textured flooring options such as vinyl, rubber, or non-slip tiles to prevent falls.
  9. Accessible Cabinets: Lowered or pull-out cabinets for easy access.
  10. Adjustable Shower Heads: Movable shower heads that accommodate seated bathing.
  11. Clear Floor Space: Ample room for maneuvering a wheelchair or walker.

Senior Bathroom Makeover Ideas

Grab Bars

A major cause of senior falling accidents is a lack of stability in the bathroom.

A senior may lose their balance and reach for a towel bar or the toilet paper holder, which could break off the wall. Regular bathroom fixtures do not have the anchor points or sturdiness to function as grab bars.

  • Place a horizontal grab bar in the shower. If the shower is a standard walk-in, place one at elbow height on the back wall. Place a vertical grab bar at the front of the shower for getting in and out of the shower. 
  • If there is no shower seating, a horizontal bar on the shower end wall is sufficient.

Grab bars must be installed by anchoring into wall studs. This will affect grab bar placement to some extent. Never install a grab bar into sheetrock. This could pull out of the wall and cause additional injury.

It’s best to leave installing grab bars to a professional.

Non-Slip Rugs Or Mats

Rugs are not always a good idea to have in a senior bathroom. They make the floor feel warmer, but they are a significant tripping hazard. They can move, bunch up, slip out from underfoot, or catch on walker wheels.

If the senior uses a wheelchair then non-slip low-profile bathroom rugs may work. Check rugs frequently for signs of wear and tear. Look for corners that are rolling up and degradation of backing that may cause the rug to slip.

  • Never use rugs for a senior that uses a walker. Walker legs will bind up on the rugs and increase the chances of a falling accident.
  • Never use rugs that do not have non-slip backing.
  • Use low-profile rugs only.
  • If the senior receives in-home care at showering time, a non-slip rug can be used when getting out of the shower with assistance. This rug should be picked up and hung to dry on a rack rather than staying on the floor creating a trip hazard.

If some sort of rug is necessary because the bathroom floor is slippery, choose a large non-slip mat or carpet rather than multiple small mats that can move. Consider remodeling the bathroom with safer non-slip flooring material.

Raised Toilet Seats

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations stipulate that certified bathrooms should have a toilet that is 17 to 19 inches from the floor to the seat.

Replacing an existing toilet with this helps eliminate falls that occur from transitioning from a wheelchair to a toilet. It is much easier for seniors to stand from this higher seated position.

  • An alternative to a compliant toilet is a toilet seat riser. Choose one that bolts on to avoid an accident where the seat slips off of the toilet.
  • Some toilet risers have an attached safety grip. 
  • If the toilet riser does not have an attached safety grip and there is not a grab bar installed within easy reach, then install a toilet safety rail. These can be stand-alone or bolted onto the toilet.

Toilet needs vary by senior, but the basic rule is that the senior should have enough safety grips to transition from a walker or wheelchair to the toilet safely.

Toilet rails ensure that the senior can be steady while taking care of hygiene and stand up to transition back to the walker or chair.

Walk-In Showers (Roll-In Shower)

The tub or shower is the most difficult fixture for an unsteady senior to use safely.

When remodeling a bathroom for use by a senior, an old tub and shower combo has to go. It is too difficult to get in and out safely, even with steps and rails.

  • Install a walk-in shower with a front door lip that is no higher than a half-inch. 
  • ADA requirements state that the shower must be free from obstructions in the front. However, for a home shower remodel, a glass door can be installed if desired. This glass door should hang and roll from a runner on the top of the door rather than riding a rail at the bottom. This will leave the bottom free from obstructions.
  • Consider having a walk-in tub and shower combo installed. These units can have therapeutic jets as well, which are great for treating arthritis pain. When installed correctly, the door enables a senior to safely enter the tub unit and then seals water inside for bathing.
  • Choose a shower with a non-slip bottom. 
  • If the shower does not have a non-slip bottom, install non-slip strips on all surfaces that may be stepped on. 

A walk-in shower and tub combo will have controls that are positioned to be within easy reach.

For a self-installed walk-in shower, be sure to have controls that can be reached from the shower seat.

Also, have a water wand with a long hose and a control valve that can shut the water off or transition it from the wall shower head to the water wand.

Shower Seat

Seating inside a bathroom designed for use by seniors should include a shower chair. This can be a permanently installed shower bench, a mobile shower bench, or a shower chair.

  • Shower seating should not be able to tip. Some permanently installed shower seating can be adjusted for comfort, but it can not fall or tip.
  • Removable shower seating must have wide, non-slip feet. Double-check that the chosen chair or bench can not move or tip inside the shower. If it does not work with the shower, then do not use it. Choose a different seat or bench before allowing the senior to use it.
  • Shower seating must be able to drain water away and have a non-slip texture on the seat.

Do not put any other furniture in the bathroom unless there is enough room to safely maneuver around it.

Keep towel racks, toilet paper holders, and garbage cans off the floor. This helps to keep the senior safe from tripping.

Walk-In Tubs

Walk-in tubs provide seniors with a safer, more accessible bathing option, reducing the risks associated with traditional bathtubs.

  • These tubs come equipped with low thresholds for easy entry, built-in seats at a comfortable height, and handrails to aid in safe transitions from standing to sitting.
  • Ensure that the tub door seals tightly to prevent leaks, and consider fast-filling and quick-draining features to reduce the time spent in the tub, which can be crucial for senior comfort and safety.
  • Many walk-in tubs also offer therapeutic features such as whirlpool jets or air baths, providing not only safety but also beneficial health features that can help with circulation and muscle relaxation.

Enhanced Lighting

Proper lighting in a senior’s bathroom is crucial for safety and usability, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.

  • Install bright, possibly motion-sensing lights in critical areas such as over the toilet, within the shower, and over the sink to provide ample illumination for all bathroom activities.
  • Consider easy-to-operate switches with large, clear markings or touchless switches that can be activated by motion. Lighting should also be free from glare, which can be disorienting.
  • Installing low-level night lights that activate in the dark can guide seniors safely if they need to use the bathroom during the night.

Non-Slip Flooring

Non-slip flooring is essential to prevent slips and falls, which are among the most common accidents in the bathroom for seniors.

  • Options like textured vinyl, rubber, or non-slip tiles are recommended for their effective grip, even when wet.
  • It’s important to ensure that non-slip flooring extends throughout the entire bathroom, covering all areas that might get wet.
  • Choose materials that are easy to clean and maintain, as hygiene is also a key consideration in bathroom design for seniors.

Accessible Cabinets

Accessible storage solutions are key to a functional senior bathroom, making daily routines easier and safer.

  • Cabinets should be installed at a lower height to be easily accessible from a seated position or for those with limited reach.
  • Pull-out shelves, lazy Susans, and drawers with easy-pull handles or touch-open technology can make accessing toiletries and bathroom essentials simpler.
  • Inside cabinet light fixtures can help seniors find items easily, reducing the risk of strain or injury from reaching and searching.

Adjustable Shower Heads

Adjustable shower heads enhance the bathing experience, providing flexibility and comfort for seniors with varying needs.

  • Install shower heads that can easily be adjusted for height or removed from a fixed point for handheld use, accommodating both seated and standing bathing positions.
  • Ensure that the controls are simple to manipulate, with clear labels and gentle operation to aid those with limited hand strength or arthritis.
  • Consider models with variable spray settings that can be adjusted according to comfort and need, from gentle rinsing to more intense water flow.

Clear Floor Space

Ample clear floor space in a senior bathroom is crucial for accessibility, particularly for those using mobility aids.

  • Ensure there is enough space for a wheelchair or walker to turn around easily, typically a minimum diameter of five feet of clear space.
  • Keep the floor plan open and free from obstructions like protruding cabinets or unnecessary furniture that can impede mobility.
  • Flooring transitions should be smooth to avoid potential trip hazards, with different areas of the bathroom clearly defined yet easily navigable.

Understanding The Need For Senior-Friendly Bathrooms

Safety Statistics And Concerns

Falls and accidents in bathrooms are a significant concern for seniors, often leading to hospital visits.

Common hazards in standard bathrooms include slippery floors, high tub edges that are difficult to step over, and a lack of stable surfaces to assist in movement.

Implementing safety measures such as installing grab bars, adding non-slip flooring, and including shower seats can greatly mitigate these risks.

In Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood, local awareness campaigns could be initiated to highlight the importance of these modifications, aiming to reduce the number of emergency room visits.

Benefits Of Aging In Place

Seniors living in familiar environments report better emotional and psychological health. This sense of stability and comfort can contribute positively to their overall well-being.

Financially, aging in place is often less costly compared to the expenses associated with assisted living facilities. Modifications like wider doorways in Charlotte’s Dilworth area, accessible bathrooms, and safer kitchen designs enable seniors to live independently for a longer duration.

This not only preserves their comfort but also reduces the financial burden on their families.

Professional Advice And Services

Hiring The Right Contractor

Selecting the right contractor is crucial for effectively carrying out senior-friendly bathroom renovations.

Homeowners should look for contractors with specific experience in making age-friendly modifications.

Evaluating a contractor’s portfolio and asking detailed questions about their approach to projects such as roll-in showers and walk-in tubs can provide insights into their capability and attention to detail.

It’s also beneficial to seek recommendations from trusted sources within the Charlotte community, perhaps focusing on feedback from residents in the South End area who have undertaken similar home modifications.

Long-Term Considerations And Maintenance

Future-Proofing Your Bathroom

Designing a bathroom to accommodate future mobility needs involves more than just immediate modifications.

It requires a visionary approach to create a space that is adaptable to potential changes in a senior’s mobility.

Features like curbless showers and built-in seating can be planned during initial renovations to avoid subsequent, more disruptive changes.

Charlotte’s University City district, with its mix of young families and aging residents, is an ideal model for developing multi-generational accessible housing.

Regular Maintenance Tips

Maintaining a senior-friendly bathroom involves routine checks to ensure that all safety features are functioning properly.

This includes regular inspections of grab bars, anti-slip mats, and proper lighting fixtures.

Additionally, assessing the condition of shower areas and flooring every few months will help in the early identification of potential problems.

For households in Charlotte’s Ballantyne area, setting a maintenance schedule can help prolong the durability and safety of bathroom features, ultimately ensuring that seniors can use their spaces safely and comfortably.

Make Your Bathroom Senior Accessible With Senior Bathroom Remodels From Portico

There is a lot to consider when making over a bathroom to suit the needs of an older adult. Luckily, an experienced Charlotte general contractor can help you determine the best safety features that also adhere to your desired bathroom aesthetic.

If you need additional help planning the right senior bathroom makeover, contact the renovation experts at Portico; call us at 704-742-2720 today! Our Charlotte remodelers can provide the professional advice that you need to do the job right.

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