Meeting the Needs of a Growing Family
Your families needs change as each member of your family ages with time; therefore accessibility should be a design consideration in the early stages of every bathroom plan to ensure independent living. The needs of a child, adult or elderly individual each differ in degrees of ease of use and ease of access in your bathroom.
Unfortunately most bathrooms these days are primarily geared towards adults that are in perfect health and discount those that are infirm or have some other form of physical limitation whether it is size or age. This makes it difficult and in some cases impossible for some individuals to use a regular bathroom that so many of us take for granted in our daily lives.
While some are able to adapt, it is more humane and can be cost effective as well to change your bathroom environment (if only temporarily) to meet the needs of those using it on a day to day basis.
And the good part is that this may not necessarily require you to do extensive changes or even for you to change the look and feel of your bathroom yet at the same time will facilitate greater accessibility for your loved ones.
Here is where the importance of planning ahead will save you time and effort in the future. Grab bars are an important fixture in helping individuals move around and offer support and stability therefore it is very important that the structural backing is in place before your walls are finished.
The primary locations for these are usually the tub, toilet, and shower areas and they can be mounted on the floor or walls of your bathroom.
Design Switches and Fixtures for Smaller or Sitting Individuals
It is also important to locate things like switches, outlets and storage areas that can be accessed by someone little or someone sitting down. This usually means that switches may be lower than normal and outlets need to be a little higher.
Vanities need to be slightly lower than normal, mirrors need to be tilted down and if you can, it is usually better to install a pedestal type sink where there is knee access below the sink. Of course make sure there is plenty of room to maneuver around in a wheelchair if necessary, so watch your minimum clearances and keep your entrances wide.
Another important consideration is your choice of knobs and handles on the doors and faucets. Lever handles are easier to operate than their round counterparts that can be even more difficult to grab on to when slippery and wet.
The location of tub and shower handles also comes into play as they should be able to be accessed from within and outside the components. And the inclusion of seating in these areas would also be beneficial to the user.
What ever you do, the main consideration here is to make your bathroom accessible to a wide range of abilities. Looking to retain your active lifestyle? ActiveForever.com is a great place to get the ADA tools you need to remain healthy and independent.