Aging in Place: Bathrooms

This is the fifth story in a series of articles about aging in place issues and how they relate to remodeling and new home construction.

If you have decided that living at home during your later years beats moving into an assisted-living facility, then you’ll need to plan ahead. Bathrooms are a major consideration for aging-in-place upgrades, if for the simple reason that there are hazards that go hand-in-hand with the slippery surfaces found in most of them.

This article will give you an overview of considerations and solutions so that if your bathroom needs some changes you can have them done now.

Luxury walk-in tub

There are many different styles of walk-in tubs, with many that integrate nicely with high-end homes.

First Steps to Creating an Aging-in-Place Bathroom

First, hire a Certified NAHB Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) such as Fazzolari Custom Homes and Renovations. We have passed a program to prepare homes for aging in place.

Second, make sure you have a bath on the same level as your bedroom and one on the level where you will spend most of your day.

Grab bars, Grab bars, and Grab bars

There are never too many grab bars in a bathroom. You’ll need to start with making sure there is enough bracing in the framing in walls, around the tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250 – 300 pounds. Make sure there is one on the inside and outside of the bathtub and shower, one or more near the commode, one by the sink…etc. Put double rows in places where the user may be either standing or seated. Great news for the decorator in you, grab bars come in many finishes.


The toilet is undoubtedly the most necessary seat in the house. For folks whose knees don’t bend like they used to, a taller commode (generally 2.5 inches taller than the standard) will be easier to use. If someone in the house will be using a wheelchair, the commode’s seat height should be near the wheelchair’s seat height.

Showers and Baths

After the toilet, showers and baths are major considerations. The possibility of slipping and falling in a unprepared bath can be pretty high, so make sure to consider some of these changes:

  • If you install a stand-up shower, make sure it is curbless and minimum of 36 inches wide;
  • If you prefer a bathtub – consider buying one with a door or at least one that is lower for easier access;
  • In the shower add removable shower heads with 6-foot hoses so you can bath with a minimum of foot movement;
  • Install a sliding track for the shower head to allows its use both standing and sitting;
  • Add Fold-down Shower seats;
  • Consider a shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection.

Counters and Cabinets

For someone who is going to be sitting while using a counter, it should be 26 to 28 inches from the floor. People sitting in wheelchairs will need knee spaces at least 27 inches high, 30 inches wide, and 19 inches deep, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. Some other things to consider:

  • Add a rounded edge finish on the counter top’s edge;
  • Choose a wall-hanging sink that provides accessibility and knee room (with a panel to shield the pipes);
  • Install “D” shaped knobs on cabinet doors;
  • Provide pull-out shelves and Lazy Susans for storage areas.

Maneuvering Room

If someone is going to be using a wheelchairs or walker, consider that ADA guidelines specify a minimum clear space of 60 inches in diameter for a wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn and about 36 inches clearance between walls. Make sure that there is enough room to have the wheelchair beside the commode for an easier transfer from one to the other. We how to make sure your bathroom will have the space for a wheelchair to turn.

Fixtures and Faucets

These simple changes to your bathroom fixtures are easily overlooked but can have an impact on livability:

  • Buy lever-operated faucets;
  • Even better, buy electronically-controlled touch or push-type faucets that are pre-programed to keep water at safe temperatures;
  • Install a toilet paper holder that can be changed with one hand.


Make sure your flooring is stable, firm and slip-resistant. A textured tile can help reduce the chance of falls.


Install more lighting. You will use every light you’ve put in. We can help you figure out where and what types of lights are best for your plan. Also, consider using the rocker-type light switches.

A Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist such as Fazzolari Custom Homes and Renovations understands the needs you have and is trained to help you sort through these decisions and make it easier for you to choose the ones that are right for you. If you are considering options for aging in place in the Portland, OR area then call Vancouver, WA Contractors Fazzolari Custom Homes and Renovations at 360-571-7027 or fill out our form for a free consultation.

Post a Comment