Future-Proof Your Home: Simple Steps For A Bathroom You Can Enjoy Well Into Your Senior Years
It’s a well-known fact that Australia’s ageing population is set to double over the next 40 years.
Aged care services can be expensive, and many Australians would prefer to remain in their own home in their senior years. Research has shown that doing so produces far better results for well-being and health.
However, there are many alterations that are required to make a standard home suitable for independent living, and bathrooms in particular are frequently cited as high-risk environments for elderly, and less-mobile residents.
There are several important aspects of your bathroom design that you will need to consider in order to maintain independency within your home for as long as possible.
To assist you in your planning, we’ve outlined the main ones below.
Grab rails are the most common adaptation used to increase mobility in residential bathrooms. They provide stability and support in various areas of the bathroom, and can be installed around the toilet, in the shower, and in or around the vanity or bath.
The product finish on grab rails is important for both aesthetic and safety considerations. Types of finishes available include satin, slip‑resistant, powder-coated and polished.
Although there are many beautiful bathrooms that incorporate independent living products into their design, some people do not like the look of a grab rail. If you are not yet ready to install grab rails, you can still plan now for their installation later on down the track. Simply ensure that provision is made behind your finished wall to allow for easy retrofitting later on. You can speak with your installer about the best way to implement this.
(Source: Hans Grohe)
Walk-in showers are favoured in many modern, high-end designs, though they typically don’t cost much more than a traditional shower enclosure with a raised base. This contemporary solution not only creates visual space in the bathroom but is an essential addition for mobility impaired showering. A walk-in shower will make wheelchair access possible, and the open design allows for more room if a nurse or aid is required to assist.
Depending on your individual situation and needs, you may also wish to incorporate additional support products within your shower, like a grab rail shower set, with an easy to use handheld shower, or a fold down shower seat.
Over half of all bathroom injuries amongst persons 85 years or older occur on or near the toilet. The installation of grab rails around the toilet area can assist in an easier transfer onto/off the toilet. But the actual toilet suite you select can also impact the practicality of your toileting.
Many manufacturers now provide a range of stylish toilet suite options with features like colour contrast seats, raised flush buttons, and back or arm rests.
Which design you choose will be up to you, your preferred style and your individual requirements.
We recommend that you consider at the very least a toilet suite that has an elevated (increased height) pan. This is a simple and discreet upgrade, which will provide easy use for those with limited mobility for many years to come.
There are several tapware options that are suitable for independent living.
3-Piece Lever Tapware
This type of tapware is designed to give users with limited hand mobility a comfortable grip on the handle. It is available for use above baths, vanities and basins, and in showers.
There are various styles available, in both contemporary and traditional/provincial looks, For applications where extra care is required, extended lever or colour coded handle options are available. Just ensure your tapware has ceramic disc spindles to easily turn the water on and off. This is especially of importance if you find you are losing strength in your hands, or suffer from arthritis.
Single Lever Mixers – with or without extended levers
Basin, bath, and shower mixers utilise a sleek lever design to achieve easy control of hot and cold water flow. They are the go-to in tapware design in modern homes, whilst also avoiding having to mix hot and cold water supplies through separate handles. Mixers are easily operated by hand, requiring minimal effort and strength.
Certain mixer ranges also have the option of an extended lever handle, which can be retro-fitted once required. The longer levers allow you to turn them on and off with your wrist or elbow, if need be.
“Touch Free” Electronic Mixers
While sensor taps have long been a feature in public bathrooms, they are now making an appearance in residential homes. Not only does sensor tapware give a modern, sophisticated look, but it is also extremely user-friendly and long-wearing.
Touch-free technology is a great way to help prevent the spread of life-threatening germs, and it requires minimal physical ability to operate – simply wave your hand. This type of tapware is not available for use with baths or in showers.
(Source: Caroma / Aged Care Agenda)
Australia’s aging population has created the need for aged care solutions to be brought into the home.
There are now many specialised products on the market which are designed to accommodate age, disability, and illness in a residential setting.
Though the above points are vital considerations when preparing to live out your senior year’s safely and comfortably in your own home, they do not represent all of the options available. You may find that your particular situation is different or has additional requirements.
To speak with one of our knowledgeable consultants about the best way to future-proof your home, head into one of our showrooms today.