This is a fun guide to creating a functional and safe bathroom for seniors. You’ll learn about design principles and safety standards, and get plenty of equipment, flooring, and organizational ideas for even the tiniest washroom. There are lots of amazing senior-friendly bathroom designs to see, so let’s get started!
What Are the Principles of Safe Bathroom Design?
Putting safety first in a bathroom designed for seniors means ensuring that the space can accommodate needed equipment, whether a wheelchair, shower transfer bench, floor-to-ceiling grab bar pole, walker, toilet rails, or other pieces. Planning for the movement of wheelchairs, walkers, seniors, and caregivers is essential, as is considering what may be needed in the future.
The main thing to remember is to follow the Americans With Disabilities Act ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
Aging in Place has some excellent suggestions on elderly bathroom reno planning:
Here Are Our 3 Favorite Websites for Senior-Friendly Bathroom Design Ideas:
During your first glance at the gorgeous bathrooms on these websites, it may be tough to realize they are also safety-conscious senior-friendly washrooms. But they are! We hope you’ll find design inspiration from these impressive sites:
What’s especially helpful here is that the ideas can be used in senior bathrooms of all sizes. The reachable storage makes these beautiful rooms look even better. There are ideas for elderly washrooms with walk-in tubs, curbless showers, and plenty of safety equipment, such as shower benches and grab bars.
Seeing both the design sketch and the finished bathroom is helpful on this site. The attention to detail in the senior-friendly bathroom designs includes even the faucets and emergency help button. There are also ideas for the toilet area in addition to the bathing spaces.
We think “A Remarkable Guide to Making Your Bathroom Safe for Seniors” on this website is remarkable! It focuses on safety features for every part of the washroom – even the bathroom doorknob. It mentions ADA design codes and is complete with great close-up photos of each safety detail.
Small Bathroom Ideas for Seniors
Even the smallest bathroom can be senior-friendly and safe with a few upgrades. Jill at LivingTheMidlife does an excellent job of showing us the possibilities of how to design a small bathroom for an older adult, with accommodation for future ideas, in her video:
Isn’t it nicely surprising that with such a tiny bathroom, it’s still possible to be wheelchair accessible and hold so many senior safety features? Jill’s mother-in-law’s washroom shows what the result can be when senior bathroom design is so well thought out. We’re sure you’ll agree that her folding spa-like shower chair is a brilliant design touch!
Bathroom Shower Ideas for the Elderly - How to Make a Senior's Shower Safe
If you watched Jill’s video above, the shower she shows has a slight edge. Jill mentions that it’s as low to the floor level as they could go with the space they have for water drainage to occur still. If you have a larger bathroom, a completely floor-level shower is the best option. Here are more senior shower safety ideas:
Ideal Flooring for Senior Bathrooms
When choosing flooring for senior-friendly bathroom designs, anti-slip and cushioning properties are the most important. The flooring should also be easy to keep clean and dry and endure equipment such as a wheelchair or walker.
Vinyl flooring is often considered the best option for elderly washrooms for its safety. As the article at the link mentions, choose vinyl floors with a Coefficient of Friction (COF) ranking of at least 4.2 to ensure enough anti-slip properties. As a flooring choice, vinyl is also durable and affordable.
A crucial thing to keep in mind when designing your senior bathroom is the flooring height. If it’s not even with the entry door to the bathroom and the hallway beyond it, there could be access problems, so plan for a smooth floor transition.
Bathroom Organization Ideas for Seniors - How to Organize a Bathroom, So It's Safe and Convenient.
The best way to organize a senior bathroom for maximum safety and convenient usability is to walk through the space or look at the design plan and think about everything a senior would need when using that washroom.
Where should towels be available and placed after they’re used? What is the easiest way and place to have soap and shampoo available? It can be helpful when planning the organization to think about the different sections of the room and what is needed there:
Tub and Shower Area
Think about how exactly the senior will be able to use the showerhead to wash while also handling soap, shampoo, and a washcloth. This type of thinking will help give you the organization inspiration to customize your bathroom accordingly.
Remember that adding organizational accessories means ensuring they work with the necessary safety equipment. In a senior-friendly bathroom, toilet paper access needs to work with toilet rails or a raised seat. Combination grab bars/toilet paper holders can be a great solution. There are also sturdy free-standing toilet paper holders to place where needed.
Easily accessible open shelves or drawers for bathroom supplies often work well for wheelchair users and non-wheelchair users alike. Avoid hard-to-grasp knobs and heavy cupboard doors. A single lever sink tap is the easiest to use and, as a bonus, can give any bathroom updated style. Ensure that grooming supplies for face-washing, hair combing, and teeth brushing are all within easy reach.
Open storage is always the best idea for the easiest accessibility to supplies in a senior-friendly bathroom. Having everything out and easy to reach makes finding necessities simple for seniors. Otherwise, having to hunt for something in a cupboard could lead to lost balance or at the very least, frustration.
You’ve now learned the essentials of senior-friendly bathroom designs and important safety principles. Hopefully, the website photos, video, and ideas presented here will inspire you to design your amazing senior bathroom!