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Bathroom Renovation for Seniors: Enhancing Safety While Maintaining Style

As we age, our physical abilities change and our living spaces should adapt to accommodate those changes. One area that is especially important to consider for seniors is the bathroom.

Most times, when discussing bathroom renovation, it involves adding the latest fixtures and decorations to a bathroom to keep it updated or customize it to the homeowner's liking.


However, the goal is different when it comes to bathroom renovation for seniors. While older people also enjoy a trendy bathroom, the main goal when remodeling is to ensure their safety. 

In this blog post, we will explore key considerations to remember when renovating a bathroom for seniors, from choosing the right fixtures to incorporating assistive technology.

Tips on Renovating a Bathroom for an Elderly Person 

Elderly people have unique needs in a bathroom. Below we have listed a few tips that will address those needs:

  1. Install grab bars. Grab bars help seniors to maintain balance and reduce strain on their legs while showering. They can also help prevent or minimize the impact of slips and falls. To make the grab bars even more sturdy, secure them to wood ‘blocking,’ a piece of wood inside the wall that acts as reinforcement. Various studies have supported the use of grab bars, such as this one that recommends that grab bars be universally available to individuals over 65.
  2. Install a raised toilet seat. A raised toilet seat can reduce the risk of falls since it reduces the distance between standing and sitting. Another benefit of raised toilet seats is less impact on joints since you don’t need to bend your joints as much as on a regular toilet seat. Raised toilet seats work even better when combined with grab bars.
  3. Replace the bathtub with a walk-in shower. Walk-in showers are more accessible than bathtubs, especially for those with mobility issues. They also have lower thresholds, making them safer for getting in and out.
  4. Install non-slip flooring. Did you know about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury each year? Bathroom floors can be slippery, especially when wet. Installing non-slip flooring can help seniors have better traction when walking in the bathroom, thereby preventing falls.
  5. Improve lighting. Good bathroom lighting is vital for older adults, especially those with impaired vision. A good approach when improving a senior’s bathroom lighting is to ‘over-light and then dim it down.’ It is easier to reduce brightness using dimmable lights than it is to install new lights for extra brightness.
  6. Replace faucets with lever handles. Lever handles are easier to use than traditional faucets with knobs, especially for those with arthritis or other joint and mobility issues.
  7. Ensure the bathroom is wheelchair accessible. If the elderly person uses a wheelchair or walker, ensure the bathroom is accessible by widening doorways, installing a roll-in shower, and placing sinks at a lower height. For more details on bathroom accessibility, read the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
  8. Install an adjustable handheld shower head. An adjustable handheld shower head can make it easier for elderly individuals to control the water pressure and direction while showering. It can also be helpful for washing hard-to-reach areas.
  9. Reconsider the height of bathroom fixtures. When renovating a bathroom for a senior, it’s important to consider the height of bathroom fixtures such as sinks, toilets, and cabinets. These fixtures should be placed at a comfortable height for the individual, which may be lower than the standard height.

Bathroom Modifications for Seniors With Disabilities

Below are some bathroom modifications that are especially helpful for elderly people with disabilities:

Motion-activated lighting. Motion-activated night lights can help seniors with disabilities navigate the bathroom safely.

Automatic faucets. Automatic faucets eliminate the need to turn knobs or lift levers when operating a faucet. They can be beneficial for seniors who have limited dexterity or joint issues.

Bidet toilet seats. Toilet seats with bidets are a great option for seniors with mobility issues since they eliminate the need to wipe after using the toilet.

Shower bench or seat. A shower seat or bench provides disabled seniors with a comfortable place to sit while showering, helping them shower independently. Shower seats also benefit non-disabled seniors by limiting standing time, thereby reducing fatigue and the risk of falling. 

What NOT To Do in a Senior Citizen’s Bathroom Remodel

We’ve spoken about best practices when remodeling a senior’s bathroom. Now let’s take a look at what should be avoided.

Don’t use slippery or high-gloss flooring. Instead of slippery flooring like smooth ceramic tiles, use slip-resistant materials like textured tiles or rubber. You can supplement with anti-slip floor mats.

Don’t neglect ventilation. Adequate ventilation is essential to prevent moisture buildup and reduce the risk of mold and mildew growth. Research shows that poor ventilation can adversely affect elderly people’s respiratory health.

Bathroom Remodeling for Senior Citizens: Money Matters

Does Medicare Help With Bathroom Remodel?

Medicare typically does not pay for bathroom remodels since they are considered a home improvement rather than a medical necessity. However, there are some instances where Medicare may cover certain bathroom modifications if they are deemed medically necessary and prescribed by a doctor.

Original Medicare does not pay for bathroom mods, but Advantage Medicare plans might pay partially for things like grab bars, traction flooring, etc. Generally, Medicare pays for items they define as Durable Medical Equipment. If a bathroom fixture is recommended by a doctor and is considered DME, then Medicare will likely cover some of the cost. 

Contact Medicare for full and updated information on their coverage of bathroom renovation for seniors.

Bathroom Renovation Grants for Seniors

To ease the burden of costly renovations, federal, local, and private organizations offer grants to the elderly to help with bathroom remodels.

Examples of bathroom renovation grants for seniors are:

Medicaid Waivers – Bathroom remodels fall under the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waivers because they keep a senior from going into a nursing home. Exactly what bathroom modifications a Medicaid waiver will help cover depends on your specific state regulations.

Medicaid Money Follows the Person – Medicaid Money Follows the Person (MFP) is a federal initiative designed to help individuals transition from institutional care, such as nursing homes, to their private homes and communities. Under the program, states receive funding to provide support services, such as home health aides, transportation, and home modifications, to eligible individuals.

Besides government-backed grants like Medicaid, you can look at private organizations like THE AARP Foundation and The Home Depot Foundation, among many others.

Guaranteed Enterprises — Your Ideal Bathroom Renovation Contractor

Looking to renovate a bathroom for a senior citizen? You’re at the right place. 

We are a team of seasoned construction experts with experience building and renovating bathrooms of all shapes, sizes, and styles. Our process involves analyzing your existing bathroom, proposing custom solutions, and bringing them to life. 

Reach out to us today about your project. Guaranteed guarantees great results!