There are several things to include in your next bathroom remodel to help prepare your home for your long term comfort. Considering the fact that most adults over 45 want to remain in their homes as they age good planning now will result in long term comfort, safety and low maintenance. All three of those are keystones of Aging in Place Design.
One of the main things, of course, are grab bars near the toilet and at the bath or shower. Don’t want to have them now? Prepare for the future and make sure there is blocking in the walls to install them in the future or have the walls reinforced with ¾” plywood.
To start your design, have 36” wide swinging doors with lever handles and a no threshold entry into the bathroom. A 5’ turn radius at the toilet and at the bath or shower is necessary for maneuvering too.
When choosing your vanity, consider multiple heights so you can sit down in front and still be able to reach the sink. Make sure you install great storage that is easily accessed like pull-outs. If you want to really plan for the future, make sure the cabinet under the center of the vanity can be pulled out if necessary in the future so a wheelchair could fit in.
Have a full-length mirror installed in addition to locating the vanity mirror low enough so if seated you can still see the mirror. Always consider safety and what kind of maintenance will need to be done when choosing finishes. Go for the low maintenance choices and safety should be your highest priority. Make sure the floor finish and shower finishes are non-slip.
Another safety decision should include anti-scald fittings on the faucet and tub or shower. If you are considering a shower, install a curbless shower. Also consider a shower chair or bench that can be built-in or make sure there is enough space for a free-standing chair. The best choice for the shower head would be a hand-held shower sprayer on a sliding vertical bar, with a 60” long hose.
If you prefer a bathtub over a shower, make sure the bottom is non-slip and there is a 15” extension on the tub deck for easier entry. The shower head mentioned above is a good choice for the tub too.
On to toilet choices: toilets that are in the 17-18+ inch high range are your best bet. These toilets are sometimes termed “comfort height” by some toilet makers like Kohler and Toto. Another thing to look for is ADA compliant. Look at installing the elongated bowl as well because it is much easier to use.
Some additional design choices include electrical outlets at 18” off the floor, rocker light switches, lighting that is adjustable and from varied sources so there is plenty of light. Shadows can be a problem so consider lighting on both sides of the vanity mirror. Electrical controls should be easy to reach between 36” and 42” above the floor. Consider a tankless water heater for low maintenance and energy efficiency too.
So, with those thoughts in mind, if you are remodeling your bathroom, consider your vast choices and consider those that are or will be living there. Wouldn’t it be easier to plan for the future and make some forward thinking choices now? If you have any questions, or comments, please let me know. Take care.