6 Tips for an Accessible Bathroom
When I remodeled my bathroom to make it more accessible for me (in my scooter and with minimal use of my legs and right hand), everywhere I went—hospitals, clinics, coffee shops, stores—I checked out bathrooms, the entry, lay out, clearances, where grab bars were located, etc. Believe it or not, I found my perfect bathroom at Border’s Bookstore; their unisex bathroom was so easy for me to use that I took measurements of everything and applied them to my remodeling plans. It worked out great and today I have a beautiful bathroom that is not only perfect for me but also very functional for others in my family.
Whether you plan to remodel or not, here are a few things to help make your bathroom more accessible:
1. Raise the Toilet Seat
If you cannot afford to replace the toilet with a new one that is mounted on the wall or sits higher off the floor, purchase an inexpensive portable seat that will fit over your current one. You will find raising the seat 4-6 inches will make it much easier for you to get on and off the toilet, whether you are transferring from a wheelchair or not. You will find these and other helpful items at drug or home health stores. Consider adding conveniences like a personal bidet, larger flush handles, or even a foot activated flusher to make toileting easier.
2. Add Grab Bars in Convenient Locations
Make sure grab bars are installed where they give you the help you need, and only you know the proper height and angle that is right for you. One way to determine where your grab bars should be permanently installed is by trying a portable, suction cup grab bar at various angles and locations. When installing permanent grab bars, be sure to install them securely into the studs or a reinforced wall. A strong, portable, suction cup grab bar, available from Catalog Solutions will help you determine where and at what angle your grab bars should be mounted. www.solutions.com
3. Create an Open Layout That Allows You to Enter, Move, and Turn Around Easier
Give yourself a wide aisle and an outward opening door to give you maximum room to move. A pedestal sink or open cabinet design helps you get closer to the sink; easy-glide drawers and drawer organizers keep everything at your fingertips.
4. Consider Installing a Kitchen Faucet
Kitchen faucets tend to be longer, reaching further over the sink, and easier to turn on and off with one hand than typical bathroom faucets.
5. Keep Everything You Use Regularly Within Easy Reach
I have a collection of clear containers on my bathroom counter that hold cotton balls and other morning necessities, a teaspoon in my toothbrush holder, a magnet inside my medicine cabinet to hold my fingernail file, hooks under the sink for my washcloth and hand towel, and my underwear in a drawer so it’s handy when I get out of the shower. I also use a hands-free hair dryer stand.
6. Create a Barrier-Free Shower or Bathing Area
Remove any steps or external lips so you can move easily into or out of the bathing area; tile floors slanted toward a flush, in-floor drain and a floor length shower curtain will keep water inside. Add a shower seat, even a webbed or plastic lawn chair will do, so you can sit while showering, and consider exchanging your fixed shower head with an adjustable bar or inexpensive hand held model. If you really need a sit-in bath, there are special tubs with leak-free doors that allow you to walk in. Check with your local home health agency for ideas.
For more tips and strategies for making your home safer and more accessible, pick up a copy of Home Accessibility: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier by Shelley Peterman Schwarz at a library, bookstore, or on-line bookseller.
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For reprint permission contact Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com