Bathrooms adapted for the elderly or people with disabilities affecting their mobility are becoming increasingly necessary with the increase in life expectancy. This is not only as a result of medical advances, but also thanks to the improved design of custom-made products, which make their lives more comfortable.
The quality and longevity of our lives have increased significantly in recent years, leading the way to a society with an increasing number of octogenarians. This affects us all, not only because people over 65 are expected to reach above 30% of the population by 2050, but also because it is important to take care of the elderly people around us.
When the passage of time or disability affects both mobility and independence, it is necessary to reform and adapt the spaces where such people live, to make them as accessible as possible.
Bathroom design for elderly people includes PRM products, which make it easier for them to be independent by giving them the confidence they need in their daily routine.
Floor-level shower tray
Bathroom design for elderly people: Universal principles
The purpose of universal design is to simplify everyday tasks by creating services, products and environments that are easier to use by everyone, regardless of their age and abilities.
Some product designers, engineers, architects and environmental design researchers collaborated to establish the following principles as a guide, which is highly useful for creating bathrooms suited to the elderly.
- Equitable use: the design should be user-friendly and suitable for all people, regardless of their abilities.
- User-friendly and simple: it should also be easy to understand, regardless of the user's knowledge, skills or level of concentration, and experience.
- Flexibility: it is key that the design is able to adapt to a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
- Tolerance for error: the design should minimise accidental or unexpected actions that may have unwanted consequences, such as a fall or injury.
- Low physical effort: it must also be able to be used effectively. In other words, with the minimum effort possible.
- Size and space for approach and use: it is very important that spaces and sizes are appropriate for reach, handling and use by all users, whether or not they have special needs.
All these principles are fulfilled by the Noken EASY series, created specifically for people with reduced mobility.
Keys to bathrooms adapted for the elderly
The first thing to take into account for a bathroom design for the elderly or people with reduced mobility is accessibility.
It is essential that we have a clear, barrier-free path without loose objects such as carpets or other elements that may make movement difficult. The door must be wide enough for a wheelchair to pass, i.e. at least 80 cm, and open outwards in order not to hinder exit in emergency. The handle should be easy to operate.
It is also important that the floor is non-slip, since the floor of the bathroom can become wet and dangerous.
Bathrooms adapted for elderly people
As muscle tone reduces, it can become harder to sit down on or stand up from the toilet. It is therefore recommended to place it at 45-50 cm above the floor, in addition to:
- Install it at a higher height if it is a wall-hung toilet.
- Acquire higher toilet levels if it is a floor-standing toilet.
Of course, they must be fixed securely to the floor or wall. Additionally, we recommend adding bathroom accessories for elderly people, such as Easy support bars to help to stand up or sit down.
It is also recommended to install touchless buttons, which make bathroom routines easier when activated by presence sensor.
Easy wall-hung toilet adapted to PRM + I-Comfort Line button (touchless)
The shower tray
In bathrooms adapted to suit elderly people, it is more common to install shower trays than bathtubs, as the latter limit mobility.
The shower area should be spacious. At least 80 cm or more if possible.
It is also recommended to have sufficient space in case a carer is required.
Slate shower tray (non-slip) for a reduced mobility bathroom
Shower chairs for elderly people are a highly recommended accessory. They can also fold-up in order to free up space when not needed. As with the toilet, horizontal bars are required, which help when getting up from the seat and offer enhanced safety when standing.
Shower taps should be easily operated with a lever handle and while seated on the chair.
It is also a good idea to install emergency buttons to warn of a possible fall or slip.
Easy shower chairs for elderly people
In bathrooms adapted for the elderly, washbasins must be installed at a height that makes using them easy. It is also crucial to leave the bottom hollow in case wheelchair access is required. Thus, it is advisable to have a washbasin without a stand, or furniture underneath preventing using it with a wheelchair or hindering bathroom manoeuvrability.
Reclining mirrors are useful for adapting to the different heights.
Washbasin adapted for PRM
Lever taps help mobility because they make access easy and reduce the force needed to operate them.
Touchless taps —which are easy to use when enabled with a sensor, because no physical contact is required— are also an ideal alternative for designing bathrooms for the elderly.
Has this post been useful to you? You can find further information by downloading our catalogue focused on accessibility and comfort for PRM.