Bathroom Aids Help
The bathroom presents a great risk for falls, and there also are barriers to accessibility. People often have trouble getting in and out of the tub or on and off the toilet.
Easily installed aids that can reduce difficulty in the bathroom include Raised Toilet Seats, Shower Chairs, Grab Bars, Handheld Shower Sprayer, Shower Commodes, and Bath Lifts. Long-Handled Sponges, and Reachers also assist with self-care activities.
Bathroom Safety Tips
- Install grab bars- Be certain to place them in the bathtub, the shower, and on both sides of the toilet. They would also be helpful outside the tub and shower for support and balance. (see grab bar's info below)
- Increase safety with non-slip and slip resistant mats and strips to the bathtub and shower and to the bathroom floor.
- Consider carpeting in your bathroom. It is warmer and may prevent falls. It allows more confidence when entering and exiting a shower or tub.
- Provide either a transfer seat into the tub or a built in platform. The bathtub should be a different color than the walls, and fixtures should contrast the walls and floor.
- Construct a built platform on the wall opposite the faucet. It should be at least 15" deep and made of tile or another waterproof material.
- A roll-in shower (one that a wheelchair can enter) is more accessible for all persons. For wheel chair users the shower should have a 5' turn around (This may include any area that is open next to the shower, if a curtain encloses the shower.) The minimum size of a roll-in shower is 2'-6" x 5'-0".
- A roll-in shower will have no curb or level change in the entrance, a gradually sloping floor and raised strip (max. 1/2") to contain water and possibly a non-slip, waterproof “wet area" adjacent to the shower entrance.
- The 3' x 3' transfer shower with a seat is best. This shower has a specifically sized L-shaped seat on one wall and the opposite wall has a precisely located set of controls and an L-shaped grab bar.
- Install a fold down shower seat.
- Offset faucets and controls towards the outer edge of the tub or shower to make it easier to reach the control from the outside of the fixture.
- Install a hand held showerhead with mounted clip holders. This enables those in a wheelchair or flip down seat to better bathe themselves and reach the controls. A wall-mounted slide-bar can position the showerhead at many convenient heights.
- Install anti-scalding devices in sinks, bathtubs, and showers, to avoid accidental scalding.
- Enclose the shower with a shower curtain. It is safer than glass, easily accessible, and can be maneuvered around transfer seats.
- Provide a raised toilet seat, which may be helpful to someone who has difficulty standing. Use a thicker toilet seat or spacer ring between the toilet rim and seat. A conventional toilet can also be installed on an elevated base.
- Ensure that toilets are generally be 18" high, no less than 15" or more than 19". This enables those in wheelchairs to transfer easily from a wheelchair of the same height.
- Toilet placement is recommended in a corner for efficient grab bar placement.
- Mount the sink on the wall or in a vanity with open space underneath. A removable vanity base cabinet can create additional storage when knee space is not needed.
- Raise the recommended counter height for the bathroom sink from 32"-33" from the floor; knee space should be a minimum of 29" from floor.
- Enclose and insulate the sink pipes to guard against accidental burns or sharp edges.
- Install medicine cabinets so that they are easy to access; mirror medicine cabinets are often at heights that are not typically accessible. A drawer or wall mounted shelving for medications may be in order.
- Mount mirrors no higher than 40" off the floor.
- Arrange all water flow fixtures so that users can operate them easily, with a closed fist, such as lever style controls (opposed to round or square knob). With one hand in a single motion, the user should be able to adjust controls.
- Consider other control options where feasible, such as push plates or electronically controlled systems where levels are preset.
- Create open floor space in bathrooms of at least 5' for a wheelchair turn around.
- Remove locks from the bathroom door to avoid being locked in the bathroom.
- Change doors to swing outwards to avoid trapping collapsed persons.
- Use only grab bars with a diameter of 1 ¼" – 1 ½". The space between the wall and the bar should be no more than 1 ½".
- Properly reinforce walls to accept the load of the grab bar and the weight of a person.
Types of Grab Bars
- Wall mounted- most common and permanent
- Seat mounted- fitted especially for the toilet, bars may wiggle or need adjustment over time
- Floor mounted- often used near toilets and tubs and showers, permanent, may require wall and floor reinforcement
- Folding or Pivoting- wall mounted and can be moved when not in use; subject to maintenance and movement problems
- Portable- moveable, easily stored and can travel with the user, attaches with combination of clamps, screws or suction cups
- Install horizontal grab bars on all three walls of a roll-in shower.
- Install vertical grab bars to help maintain balance while standing, entering and exiting the shower. Place adjacent to the controls or on the side walls.
- Provide 4 grab bars in a conventional tub; use only 3 if the tub has a built-in transfer seat.
- 2 grab bars will easily fit around toilet placed in a corner. Place one behind the toilet fixture and the other beside the toilet at a height of 33"-36".
- Mount a grab bar along side the toilet at a length of 42" long; the rear-mounted bar should be a minimum of 24" or 36" long.