From humanity’s first steps on the moon to the rise of nanotechnology, baby boomers have witnessed significant changes in our world. And true to their forever-young mentality, boomers refuse to make sacrifices as they adapt their environment to meet evolving needs as they age.
By 2030, the U.S. Administration on Aging predicts, the number of Americans older than 65 will top 72 million. The concept of aging in place – adapting one’s home to better fit changing physical abilities – is more relevant than ever. Simple and proactive updates in key areas, such as the kitchen and bath, can offer extra assistance to stay safe and independent at home.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among those 65 and older, and most occur in the bathroom. If you or a loved one is thinking about staying in home as you age, consider these bathroom upgrades to improve safety and accessibility:
Update tubs and showers
Stepping over a bathtub wall can be a risk for anyone with mobility issues. Although showers can eliminate the step-over risk, the threat of slipping and falling remains. For a generation who grew up taking baths, continuing to enjoy that comfort and experience is important. Much to consumers’ frustration, the institutional nature of walk-in tubs required bathers to give up aesthetics, sacrifice the comfort of a lounging position, and lose the indulgent experience of whirlpool jets and other hydrotherapy options.
The Kohler Elevance Rising Wall bath offers a safe and stylish solution. With the comfort of traditional bathing and security of a step-in tub, bathers enter when the wall is lowered and raise the wall with minimal effort (less than 5 pounds of force). The optional BubbleMassage offers a more relaxing soak, and built-in grab bars provide extra stability and support. After the bath, the tub drains in less than two minutes.
Showers and tubs of any type should be fitted with grab bars. Modern designs, such as the Kohler Belay hand rail, marry functionality and aesthetics to ensure homeowners don’t have to sacrifice style or safety.
Consider mobility issues
Decreased mobility is often a part of the aging process. Replacing a traditional 14- to 15-inch toilet with a taller 17- to 19-inch Comfort Height model can significantly improve ease of use. Just as grab bars are vital in the shower or tub, firmly anchored grab bars can provide additional support near the commode.
Those with arthritic hands may struggle with knobs on faucets and doors. Replacing knob-style faucet handles and round doorknobs with sleek lever-style handles can help ease use. Manufacturers like Kohler offer a range of designs that reflect the latest design trends while making life easier.
While aging brings a change in ability for many people, transforming the bathroom into a relaxing, accommodating space makes it easier to age in place safely and gracefully.