Bathroom and shower remodels are top-of-mind for Americans this year.
Maybe you are looking to remodel your home so you can continue living in it as you age. Want a renovation idea that improves daily life? If so, a handicap shower remodel can be an exciting and accessibility-enhancing project.
Why are roll-in showers becoming so popular?
The number of Americans aged 65 and older will nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060. And nearly 90% of seniors prefer to age in place by staying in their own homes for another five to 10 years, rather than facility living.
However, as health and mobility issues become more prevalent with age, you can make simple changes to improve the accessibility of your home and to ensure the safety and health of everyone.
A new and improved bathroom can take top priority to meet everyone’s needs.
What to Expect With a Handicap Shower Remodel and Bathroom Renovation
A shower renovation with no demolition and a few quality upgrades can include:
- A simple shower with a shower pan, a shower head, or shower door
- A small shelf or small window
- Properly installed drain lines
- A removable water-tight insert
A full master bath renovation may take more time and effort. However, it can include luxurious upgrades such as:
- A new layout with a luxury walk-in tub bath and a roll-in shower
- A show stopping counter top
- Designer fixtures
- A double vanity
- A custom closet
- A high-end toilet.
- An wide, arched wheelchair accessible doorway
The end result of a successful renovation should be the bathroom of your dreams. That means it needs to feature accessibility and be easy to use for the whole family.
Read on to explore great remodel options for a new handicap accessible bathroom!
Converting Tubs to Handicap Showers
A luxurious bath can soothe aches and pains or be a relaxation ritual to end a stressful day. But aging can make getting in and out of the bathtub a more dangerous activity.
Bathtubs provide the most opportunities in the bathroom for a person to slip and fall. One in four elderly people fall each year. One fifth of those falls results in broken bones or a serious head injury.
“The bathroom is the focal point if you want to stay in your home as long as you can,” explains Robert Murray. He’s the owner of Health at Home Inc., a distributor specializing in aging in place/universal design bathroom products.
“The bathroom is where we are the most vulnerable. The surfaces are hard, they’re often slippery, and our bodies are exposed to temperature change unlike any other place in the home. It is the place where many of the worst falls occur.”
“If someone tries to step into a big soaking tub and they slip and there is a minor fall, many elderly persons won’t tell anyone. But now they’re intimidated; they don’t feel comfortable stepping into that bathtub. So, they alter their bathing habits. Unfortunately, this corresponds to the tapering of our immune system.”
Murray notes there is a better way. “Tub-to-shower conversions are a hot item in the industry,” he says.
A handicap shower remodel does more than just improve your hygiene and safety. Many are surprised by the number of design options they have to consider.
Types of Handicap Accessible Showers
When planning a handicap bathroom remodel, you need to understand the different types of accessible shower options available:
- Roll-in showers (small thresholds most people could easily walk over, but might be difficult for a wheelchair or a walker to navigate)
- Roll-in showers (barrier-free)
- Curbless showers (have a sleeker, more spa-like look)
“Curbless showers have less surface area and nooks and crannies to clean, fewer issues with long-term water damage. And they are more accessible to the elderly and those with disabilities,” Murray notes.
For homeowners looking to go from curbed to curbless, a removable water-tight insert is a budget option. These are typically made of plastic and fit into the existing space.
Homes with only a tub may need a tub-to-shower conversion or a roll-in tub installation. Those who prefer baths may opt for a walk-in tub where they can still take a full bath, even while seated.
Shower Floors and Doors
When going from curbed to curb-less, the main focus is the floor of the shower. You will need to consider which shower base or shower pan best suits your needs.
Also, properly installed drain lines with a proper slope ensure that no moisture leaks into the sub-floor.
Leaks can cause a mold or mildew problem if left untreated.
Additionally, a linear or trench drain can be installed along the back or a side wall. This eliminates another potential trip-and-fall hazard.
“Water does not escape, except for over spray,” Murray explains. “So, that’s where the shower curtain or glass doors come into play.” Glass doors that easily slide open and closed make for a nice aesthetic look. Transparent glass doors are helpful for caregivers or family members to monitor the bather if needed.
A hinged glass shower door can be more pleasing to the eye than a shower curtain. If you prefer no shower doors, be sure to consider waterproofing the bathroom walls or floors.
A flawless shower pan with proper slope can ensure the subfloor and drywall stay dry. This can save you extra hassle and sky-high prices for repairs.
Weight-Bearing Shower Accessories
For individuals with mobility or balance issues, there are helpful accessories to consider adding in a handicap shower:
- Sturdy shower chairs that can be moved in or out for wheelchair users in roll-in showers
- Wall-hung shower seats, which are designed to withstand the weight of a person and conveniently fold up or down
- Slide bars with a handheld shower head, which aids both young children and elderly family members
When remodeling a handicap bathroom attention to detail with weight-bearing accessories is crucial.
Murray has spent countless hours with occupational and physical therapists to understand how they assess a person’s home for accessibility.
As a result, he knows which bathroom products maximize mobility, safety, and installation efficiency.
Have a family member returning home after suffering from an illness or bad fall? Items that are key to a rapid installation of a handicapped accessible shower include:
- A multi-piece shower (pipe and shower head),
- A valved drain
- Support bars/grab bars
- A fold-up shower seat
- Curtain rods
- Weighted shower curtain and collapsible rubber dams to be placed at the edge of a roll-in shower.
Designing Your Dream Handicap Shower
When designing your dream handicap shower, there is no need to resign yourself to institutional-looking products!
Today’s bathroom design professionals can help you select handicapped accessible products that are design-oriented.
Your new bathroom should provide you with a feeling of security, accessibility and luxury. Consider which details and top-quality materials best suit your needs.
Do you prefer high-end manufacturers? Or more affordable options?
Take time to research and identify both your style preferences and family needs, such as:
- Should your accessible shower include low shelves so that family members using a shower seat can easily reach the soap and shampoo?
- Does it need a shower door? Or is it easier to access the space with a walker or wheelchair without one?
- What color and design concepts do you prefer for tile and hardware?
- Do you want a custom storage? Or double vanity with wheelchair-accessibility?
- Are rounded countertop corners the safest option?
As you identify your ideal bathroom specs, an Aging-in-Place Specialist with Live in Place Designs will work with you and your family to ensure your handicap shower remodel reflects your lifestyle and your high standards.
Your experienced shower renovation team will deliver a unique system with a bathroom or home design estimate, ensuring that the end result is the bathroom of your dreams.