Living with a disability, whether it is brought on by age or not can make even everyday happenings difficult. Using the bathroom in your own home should be as easy as possible, no matter the disability. Here are a few things you may want to consider when designing an easy-to-use and handicap accessible bathroom for friends and family.
Non-slip mats are incredibly useful for making the bathroom a safe place to be, especially for the elderly. Having a nasty fall can be even more damaging and traumatic for someone who already frailer.
Non-slip mats should be placed in several places in the bathroom, mostly places where water is likely to end up: In the shower, just outside the shower, in front of the sink, and in front of the toilet.
By keeping mats in these places you can drastically minimize the chance of falling in a bathroom for handicapped people. It also prevents a roll in shower scenario.
Note: If the individual is in a wheelchair and doesn’t walk, there are different steps to accommodate them. Their mobility is limited by the wheelchair, meaning more space is needed for accessibility. Plus, bars are still useful to pull themselves throughout.
5 Key Elements of a Handicap Bathroom
Barrier Free Accessibility
Barrier free essentially means everything in a handicap bathroom is accessible for those who fit into the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Area arount a toilet
- Seats on the toilet
- Sink areas
- Faucet accessibility and height
- Access to light switches
- Entrance (doorway) clearance – wide enough to easy accomodate a wheelchair
- Accessible door handles (if applicable)
- Vanity areas
- Lighting is also important. Poor lighting affects those with vision impairments
To create a barrier free construction, renovation, or complete remodeling; the placement of all bathroom equipment and accessories is crucial to designs. It’s also key to ensure everything is installed and mounted properly. In the event an person has to pull on fixtures to catch themselves, you don’t want a poor installation to hinder safety.
Sometimes the biggest impediment to barriers is size. You want a good-sized room with walls plenty apart. Installing
Showers, not Baths
It may be an expensive change, but making sure you have a shower, not a bathtub, can make use of the bathroom so much easier for someone who may otherwise struggle to get in and out of the tub. Bath and shower combos are just as bad.
However, there are bathtup varieties that have a door, giving it an accessible design.
Showers with minimal to step in make getting in and out of the shower so much easier for someone handicapped, it also means they would be more likely to get in and out on their own without the need for assistance from someone else.
The shower should also be seated, with handles, for maximum ease of use. They may perhaps still need help getting in and out of the shower, but at least this way they would be able to wash by themselves.
Key tip: Ensure the tile on the floor is non-slip, and has a seat. Another key feature is a door to the shower that doesn’t have a big step (ideally one that has is flush with the rest of the bathroom floor.
A shower is also the easiest way to transition a person from a wheelchair into the shower, especially if the entrancew is flush with the ground and not a few inches off of the floor tile.
Handles (AKA a Grab Bars)
There should be handles, or a grab bar spread strategically throughout the bathroom for ease of use. The best places are typically where there would not normally be something else to hold on to.
For example, the sink would not need handles because the counter can be held on to. But inside the shower, outside the shower, and next to the toilet are good places to put them.
Place handles and grab bars up high enough to be comfortable. If you’re doing this in an accessible bathroom in a person’s home, it may be custom to fit their particular stature.
A public building will want to measure the heights to ensure maximum space between walls, toilets, the door, and the bars are handicap accessible for most individuals.
Important note: You also must ensure compliance with the ADA.
Handicap Accessible Bathroom Appliance Heights
This can depend on the person who will be using the bathroom. If they are wheelchair-bound, a lower sink and toilet may make things easier for them.
However, if it’s for a frail elderly person a higher sink and toilet might make things easier as it’s less of a way down for them and easier to pull themselves up only a short way using the handrail.
Pull alarms are super important for someone who will be left unattended and is a bit of a fall risk. The best places are just outside the shower and next to the toilet, as these are the two most likely places for a fall to occur.