Pembroke: Spa-Like Accessible Bathrooms
By Jamie Madden
Aging isn’t always a graceful process, as our lifestyle changes our needs also change. When we have small children at home our needs can be significantly different from when we start to get a little older. People want to be able to stay in their homes if possible, but many bathrooms (especially in older homes) are not designed well to make it safe for us as we age. An ADA-compliant bathroom that is designed for Aging in Place may not be necessary today, but could be beneficial down the road. An ADA-compliant bathroom will allow you to remain independent as you age, and make for a more enjoyable spa-like bathing experience.
Per Consumer Reports online “Because of its hard and slippery surfaces, almost 235,000 people visit the emergency room each year with injuries suffered while bathing, showering, or using the facilities. Despite that, many homeowners resist even small changes that would make the room safer because they fear their beautiful bathroom will end up looking institutional.”[i]
Working with a design professional and your contractor, you can find a great balance between safety, functionality, and a spa-like atmosphere. There are a lot of decisions and choices that should be considered when designing the space, a few include Walk-in tubs, curb less showers, grab bars, and non-slip flooring.
When making your bathroom accessible think of it as an in-home spa. ADA-Compliant bathrooms usually include walk-in tubs with comfortable seating and hydrotherapy jets making for a more enjoyable bathing experience. Some walk-in tub models even include headrests, and shelf space for candles to increase the maximum relaxation period of bath time.
Enlarge the shower. By utilizing a curb less shower design you can make the shower easy to use for someone whose mobility is lessening, kids, and even the family pets. By installing a niche or shelves we can make sure that all your shower accessories are easy to reach and don’t clutter the floor space.
When choosing tile, it is good to look at nonslip flooring options. Both tile and vinyl come in options that can be less slippery when wet. The more texture it has, the less slippery it can become. “The ceramic tile industry has adopted a slip-resistance test that measures the dynamic coefficient of friction. The higher the number, the better the slip resistance. Ideally, you’re looking for 0.42 or higher. Smaller tiles embedded in grout also provide more friction.”[ii]
No matter how old you are, we always recommend adding grab bars (or shower rails). If we cannot convince you of the potential benefits of grabs bars themselves, then at least the blocking inside the walls that would be needed if you ever wanted to add them later. Many manufactures like Delta and Kohler have bars that match the rest of the bath accessories. (https://www.deltafaucet.com/bathroom/accessories)
Almar recommends, when possible, having the bathroom on the first floor and try to create as much single level living as possible to reduce the need to go up and down the stairs. While there is no guarantee, if the remodel is focused on making the space compliant with ADA regulations, there is a chance that Medicare or Medicaid will cover some of the fees. You should check with your doctor to see if you can receive a prescription for ADA-compliant fixtures. If you can get a prescription, you should submit a Medicare claim, and if you are approved by either organization, product and installation costs will be covered.