a well lit bathroom for the elderly with motion sensors for improved safety

A bathroom adapted for the needs of our elders is one of the first necessities that would require an upgrade as our relatives grow old. 

We know wet spaces can be dangerous if not planned and designed correctly. But you can implement a few features to make the bathroom or wet room safe for your loved ones. 

Today, we will share five pro tips that will help you when planning bathroom renovations. They will bring you peace of mind when making your home safer and more comfortable for your loved ones. 

elderly women in need of bathroom adaptations in their housesImage Source: Unsplash.com

What Is a Senior-Friendly Bathroom?

Sometimes, even simple day-to-day routines can present a risk to senior citizens. Prevention is a best practice in such cases, so we must enhance safety whenever possible. Creating a senior-friendly bathroom is one way to do so.

A senior-friendly bathroom is explicitly designed to be used by an elderly or disabled person. Everything inside is adapted to ensure independence, safety and comfort.

Such a bathroom is often equipped with special safety features:

  • Grab bars
  • Rails
  • Enhanced lighting
  • Non-slip bath mats
  • Other features that prevent falls and improve safety and comfort. 

When Might the Elderly Need Safety Improvements?

To start even thinking about safety improvements, you first need to have an indication they are necessary. 

Typically, the older a family member gets, the more home modifications they will need. The sooner you make them, the better. However, there are some very clear signs it’s time to start planning a renovation project.

a newly renovated bathroom for the elderly with a safe walk-in shower feature and a grab barImage Source: Pexels.com

Changes in Mobility

Changes in mobility are one of the major issues with ageing. As they become more prominent, familiar places like stairways, the hallway, and especially the bathroom can become dangerous. 

Use of Walking Aids

The use of walking aids often accompanies reduced mobility. If a doctor suggests it’s time for assistance devices such as wheelchairs, walking frames or rollators, it’s important to consider home safety modifications.

Reduced Sight

Reduced sight is a common problem among the elderly. And since it’s such a crucial sense when it comes to safety, it’s only natural to adapt hazardous spaces such as the bathroom accordingly.

Planned Surgery

If a necessity for an orthopaedic or other kind of surgery arises, it’s best to prepare ahead of time and start planning home adaptations that will make the person’s life easier. Remember that modifications related to renovations will take a long time, so don’t wait until the last minute. 

Falls or Injuries

Although nobody wants to come to this, many elderly people report accidental falls and sometimes injuries as a result of the falls. Hopefully, this won’t happen to a family member, but it’s another clear indication to take safety measures if it does.

Remember that time is of the essence, and always be proactive. The sooner you and your elderly loved ones recognise the need for such improvements, the better. That way, you will turn the risky spaces into safe ones, removing potential hazards and keeping your family safe. 

a woman convinced her elderly mother to plan a bathroom renovation for improved accessibility and safetyImage Source: Pexels.com

Tip №1: Think about Common Bathroom Adaptations

With age, even mundane daily activities can become more challenging. That is why recognising the need for extended safety measures and a decent bathroom renovation for your elders is necessary. 

Below, we’ll list some of the most common bathroom adaptations. These safety features will make wet rooms and spaces safer and give you peace of mind. 

Widening the Bathroom Doorway

By making the bathroom door wider and the door handles more accessible, you can accommodate assistance devices. That way, you will provide easy access for individuals with mobility problems who use aids such as wheelchairs, for example, to enter the area.

Elderly-friendly bathrooms must be designed to be barrier-free spaces. That way, it will be much easier to manoeuvre. 

Installing Grab Bars

Put grab bars in strategic places in the bathroom. These bars provide vital support and stability and are an indispensable ally when sitting or standing up. 

Adapting the Toilet

Raised toilets are crucial to minimise physical effort and address mobility issues. This simple upgrade provides independence and comfort for seniors during bathroom routines. 

Creating a Walk-In Shower

Go for a walk-in or a level access shower in the elderly person’s home. They will reduce the risk of slips and falls on the wet floor while entering or exiting the shower area. It’s of course best such rooms to be located on the ground floor level of the house.

Installing a Bidet

Bidets improve hygiene and convenience. They are particularly beneficial for elders with limited mobility because they are efficient and easy to use. 

Rearranging for Accessibility 

We at IVCG cannot stress enough the importance of accessibility in bathrooms and wet rooms. Rearrange and refurbish your bathroom in order to minimise the efforts required by seniors to reach, bend, or perform other risky moves.

a raised toilet with accessible features suitable for elderly people with mobility problemsImage Source: Unsplash.com

Tip №2: Apply for Bathroom Adaptation Grant

A recent report by TILDA stated that just under 20% of the houses in Ireland are suitable for safe and independent living by elderly or disabled people. 

According to a report of the National Steering Group on the Prevention of Falls in Older People and the Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis Throughout Life, over 7,000 Irish senior citizens at an age over 65 experience a domestic incident each year that ends with a serious injury. The majority of these accidents happen in the bathroom.

This means that around 10% of the Irish elders experience the bad consequences of a poorly equipped home.

Incorporating various safety measures such as non-slip tiles, grab rails, and a walk-in shower area during your bathroom remodel for the elderly person or going for a full redesign can reduce these risks.

However, adapting a bathroom to be safer for the elderly may cost you anywhere between €5000 and €12,000.

The state considered these numbers, and in 2008, local authorities launched The Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People. Its main goal is to help Irish people in their golden years adapt their homes for safer living. 

Since then, the grant has helped thousands of elderly people prevent accidents and live safely in their homes without the risk of injuries. 

What Does the Bathroom Adaptation Grant Cover?

There are three types of relevant grants available.

House Adaptations for People With Disabilities

This grant is designated for individuals with physical, sensory, mental health, or intellectual disabilities. It aims to facilitate substantial modifications for disabled people required for your residence. Elders can also apply in this category.

Mobility Aids Grant

This grant is intended for elderly individuals and/or those with disabilities who encounter difficulties navigating within their residences due to mobility challenges.

House Aid for Older People Grant

This grant is for individuals aged 66 years or older to undertake necessary repairs, ensuring their ability to maintain residency in their dwelling. Individuals under 66 years may also qualify for this grant on exceptional occasions, but solely in cases of significant financial difficulty.

You can apply for a bathroom or house adaptation grant through a local authority if you fit in one or all of the categories.

How to Apply for a Bathroom Adaptation Grant?

There is an easy five-step process covering several standard procedures.

Follow these steps:

  • Step 2: Download the application form.
  • Step 3: Speak with an occupational therapist.
  • Step 4: Acquire estimates for your planned works.
  • Step 5: Complete and submit the form.

How Long Does It Take for a Bathroom Adaptation Grant to Be Approved?

The grants are administered at a local level, so the length of the approval process will vary depending on your place of living, but the average length is between six weeks and eight months. 

Note that you cannot proceed with the work until you receive a final approval. 

a family signs paper during an application process for a bathroom adaptation grant in IrelandImage Source: Unsplash.com

Tip №3: Improve Visibility With the Right Lighting

Providing the right lighting in the bathroom can be crucial for the safety of our seniors. Well-placed and easy-to-access light switches and a soft light that doesn’t disturb their eyes will create a safe environment for them. 

Here are some tips on improving your bathroom’s safety through carefully placed lighting. 

Placing Light Fixtures with Purpose

The right placing of light fixtures will emphasise key areas such as showers, toilets, and sinks. That way, these key spots will be well-lit, and the overall safety of the whole bathroom will be improved. 

Motion-Activated Lights

Ever thought of installing motion-activated lights? This addition to your bathroom will ensure a well-lit space at the precise time. That will add convenience and serve as a proactive safety measure. 

a well lit bathroom for the elderly with motion sensors for improved safetyImage Source: Pexels.com

Tip №4: Follow the Age-In-Place Design Principles

Another crucial factor when planning a bathroom for the elderly is its future-proofing. We need to adapt the age-in-place design principles to create a safe bathroom for the future. 

What Is the Age-In-Place Design?

The age-in-place design involves creating a functional bathroom that is prepared for the needs of the elderly. 

This approach provides long-term solutions that are certain to stand the test of time and will allow seniors to live independent lives and make their lives easier as time passes. 

How Does It Improve the Quality of Life of the Elders?

Incorporating the age-in-place design into your bathroom will considerably improve the quality of life of your elders. The fixtures, layouts, and accessibility features can be adjusted without the need for future renovations

Tip №5: Add Slip And Fall Prevention

Slip and fall prevention features are an integral part of the age-in-place design. They are a simple but effective tool for avoiding common slip-and-fall accidents. 

A non-slip floor with a textured surface provides traction that reduces the likelihood of slips in wet conditions, ensuring that the bathroom or other wet spaces remain safe. 

a level access shower as a solution during a bathroom adaptation for the elderlyImage Source: Unsplash.com

In Conclusion

By incorporating these tips for bathroom renovations for the elderly and following the age-in-place design, you guarantee that your loved ones in the golden age are safe. 

Grab rails, no-slip bathroom floor, and the right lighting are simple yet effective tricks that will give you peace of mind and safety for your elderly loved ones. In case you are under a strict budget, do not hesitate to apply for national funding

IVCG Renovation’s team has done multiple similar renovations and can come up with ideas or directly spring into action. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is Early Recognition of Safety Improvements Crucial for Seniors?

By addressing any challenges your seniors might have early on, you can take proactive measures to create a safe environment. 

What Is Age-In-Place Design, and Why Is It Essential?

Age-in-place design is all about functional spaces that senior individuals can use in the long term. It guarantees that your renovations are enduring and flexible.

How Can Seniors Initiate the Grant Application Process for Bathroom Renovations?

You must contact local authorities to initiate the process and follow our five-step guide. You may also contact government offices to inquire about available programs and eligibility criteria.