You may remember from our previous article that the bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the average home. Over the course of our lifetime, we spend more time using our toilets and sinks than almost any other spaces at home . This is why it’s important to modify your bathroom as you age in place, so your time in the bathroom is comfortable and well-spent. Here are some things to ask before you get to work.
1. Do I use a wheelchair?
If you use a wheelchair, it’s a good idea to remodel your sink for ADA compliance. This means it’s best to mount your sink on a wall with no cabinet underneath, so a wheelchair can easily slide in. Counter tops should go no higher than 30-32'' on the top side and no higher than 29'' on the underside. Counter tops should have a depth of no more than 21'' to make it easy to reach into them.
Also be sure to clear at least 32'' in width beneath the sink and install insulated pipes under the sink for protection. Graded and lowered electrical sockets around the sink are a great way to keep the area safe and user-friendly. If you want a mirror near your sink, try an extra long mirror mounted below eye level or a tilting mirror. If you want a mirror wall cabinet, be sure the cabinet is low enough for wheelchair users to reach it. Install a vanity with adjustable height so everyone at home can reach their toiletries without strain.
Drop-in sinks can work as long as their drain pipe doesn't hinder wheelchair users from approaching and using the sink.
2. How strong are my hands?
Try a single-handle faucet if your grip is weak. A hands-free faucet with a sensor activator is another option for those who struggle to grab or twist knobs. To protect yourself from burns, accessible sinks can be enhanced with anti-scald technology and won’t go over a maximum temperature. Also make sure drawers and cabinets are easy to open by installing c-shaped handles or magnetic touch latches for people with limited mobility.
3. How strong are my balance and reach?
Your sink will be ADA compliant if the operating parts are no higher than 4 feet off the ground. Adding a pull-out sprayer to your sink can save you the hassle of using the shower every time you want to wash your face or hair.
Grab bars beside the sink can help you pull up to the sink if you are using a wheelchair, or to balance if you need extra support while you stand. It is important to leave free space below the sink, try installing low drawers next to the sink that pull fully out. Electrical outlets can also be placed lower so they can be within your comfortable reach. Storage under the sink is as important as the sink itself, so remember to install low drawers underneath that pull fully out.
4. What are my special needs and specifications?
Your toilet can be customized to meet your specific wants and needs. ADA guidelines tell us the toilet seat should be higher than 17'' off the ground so it can accommodate wheelchair users and those who struggle with toilet transfers .
There are other ways to raise the toilet seat that are reliable and affordable. One option is a wall mounted toilet seat that leaves space underneath for wheelchair access, and can reach any height. However, a wall-mounted toilet requires removal of the existing toilet and plumbing.
If replacing the toilet is not an option, a raised toilet seat can help you reach that comfortable height. Another option if you landlord does not let you drill holes are suction grab bars, although they are not as secure as mounted grab bars. If space is a concern, try swing up grab bars, which can flip up against the wall when not in use.
5. How easily do I flush the toilet?
If flushing the toilet is a concern, there's no need for a handle! Try an automatic flusher that is programmed to activate with your hand gestures or at specific times during the day. Flush controls are great for those with a weak grip. As added bonuses, they control your water use from each flush, and reduce risk of germs that spread from touching the handle.
6. How can grab bars help with toilet transfers?
If you use a wheelchair, you can remodel and add value to your home by investing in an ADA-compliant toilet. The space around standard handicapped toilet must measure at least 60 inches so a wheelchair can enter and exit from the front or sideways.
Grab bars are great for general toilet transfers even if you are not wheelchair bound. Toilet safety frames are another flexible and affordable solution. They come in many materials and setups that suit any toilet and every budget. Safety frames work like temporary grab bars, and can be uninstalled if you only need them temporarily to recover from an injury.
7. How can grab bars help my balance and reach?
Install grab bars to help you with the transfers that are hardest for you to make. A vertical grab bar or security pole beside your toilet will help you sit or stand, and a horizontal grab bar above the toilet can help you balance. Try a swing up grab bar if your bathroom is tight on space. In other areas where grab bars are not an option, always try to install the sturdiest possible furniture so you can pull yourself along or support yourself. The toilet bowl dispenser should be low and within comfortable reach of wheelchair users.
Value for your home
Bathrooms are often modified, so accessible toilets and sinks are in great demand on the housing market. The accessibility craze in today’s housing market means that an accessible shower can pay you dividends. both kinds of showers and their features are at the top of home buyers lists today. Both are excellent choices to make your space more accessible and desirable.
There are various options you can consider when you consider financing your shower installation. Some are:State waivers
Please consult your local professional for more detailed information.
Choosing an accessible sink or toilet: Our video can help!