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Adapting a bathroom for the elderly

A bathroom featuring an easy access bath with door

An easily-accessible bathroom is vital for dignity and having a high standard of life, so adapting a bathroom for use by an elderly person is an important issue to get rght.

Being comfortable and safe are incredibly important in a bathroom designed for an older person, so in this article we’ll discuss several of the main features to consider.

A bath that’s easy to access

Cascade easy access bath

A standard bath has quite high sides, which can be difficult to navigate for an older person with restricted mobility.

There are a large range of easy-access baths available designed specifically to deal with this issue. Many are fitted with a door at the side, which helps a person to get in the bath easily and then fill up with water around them.

Many of these baths are standard in design, with only the side door giving any indication that the bath is slightly different from usual. This can allow the bather to enter, comfortably sit back and enjoy the benefits of a hot bath without the worry of stepping over high sides.

For people with very limited movement, a sit-down bath could be a better option. These types of bath are quite square and upright and enable the user to sit down as if on a chair. This usually helps with getting up to a standing position, rather than from lying horizontally.

Well-placed handrails

A pair of chrome bath grips by Luna Spas

One of the most important elements of a bathroom adapter for use by an older person, is that of a variety of grab handles around the room.

A handrail by the bath and shower makes a huge difference as it can really help the person support their weight when getting up, sitting down or briefly pausing during manoeuvring.

At least one handle should be placed next to the toilet to make it easier for someone to lift and lower themselves without difficulty. If space allows, then a handle both side of the toilet is ideal.

A basin is another important feature of the bathroom that needs to be accessible as possible. For wheelchair users the basin must be low enough for them to use it and reach everything they need comfortably.

For those who can stand but need support, some well-placed grab handles will allow them to have one hand free to wash or brush teeth while supporting themselves with the other.

Hand rails placed on the back of the main bathroom door can also be useful, allowing for very easy opening and closing without needing to stretch for a handle. Or simply as an extra means of support.

Safe and secure flooring

Bathroom Floor Tiles

Slipping and falling is a very serious matter for anyone elderly, particularly in a bathroom where water is likely to drip onto the floor. So it’s an important issue to address and ensure the the right flooring is installed.

Non-slip, vinyl flooring is a very popular option for a mobility-friendly bathroom, due to the fact that it’s easy to install and clean. Wheelchair users will find it easy to navigate, so vinyl really is one of the best-value flooring types available.

If a wheel chair is not used then small mosaic tiles can be considered as they provide much a greater stability than large, smooth floor tiles and are less likely to become slippery when wet. Mosaic tiles are great for low-maintenance wet rooms and walk-in showers too.

A boost in confidence

As well as the practical benefits of adapting a bathroom for someone elderly, the postive boost to their mental wellbeing should also not be underestimated either.

Someone with a bathroom especially adapted for their needs is going to feel much more happy, confident and dignified, rather than struggling to use a standard bathroom that is no longer appropriate for their requirements.


• Our quick and simple bathtub buying guide

Baths with doors: what should you look for?

Best bath options for the elderly