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Advice & More June 2015

Health, Wellness & the Good Life

Common Sense Upgrades for a Safer Bathroom

By Lynn Pribus

Many people are replacing those aging fiberglass all-in-one shower/tub combinations with tiled, walk-in showers with no sill. This means easier access for persons with disabilities temporary or permanent as well as older people.

Although kitchens are a top candidate for remodeling and upgrading, Remodeling Magazine sees bathroom remodels as being an even better investment from a financial standpoint.

An important consideration these days is enhanced bathroom safety including features like grab bars, roll-in showers, and good lighting. It makes little difference in the cost of a remodel, but can be a valuable factor increasing the marketability of a property or the ability of residents to "age in place."

It's time to change the image of these safety features as being just for seniors. For example, people need to see grab bars as "safety bars" that can also provide children or any-aged persons with disabilities gain an extra ounce of security with a steadying bar.

These days grab bars come in designs that provide architectural interest as well as safety. Materials include teak, various metallic finishes, and even glow-in-the-dark acrylic. An interesting new gizmo is a grab bar with build-in LED lighting which creates an all-in-one night light/grab handle. These can be especially useful for folks with poor eyesight.

Barrier-free homes are also important. Removing shower sills, widening doorways, and installing accessible handles on doors, sinks, and faucets allows owners to remain in their home as they age. It also increases the value of the home. More and more the public is seeing the advantages of a barrier-free home whether it is new construction or a renovation project.

For instance, many people are replacing those aging fiberglass all-in-one shower/tub combinations with tiled, walk-in showers with no sill. This means easier access for persons with disabilities temporary or permanent as well as older people.

A shower seat is another nice feature. While a removable plastic seat is useful, it may not be completely stable and also has a "hospital" feel to it. Instead, why not install a spa-like seat of tile or teak wood. A tile bench, of course, is permanent. Teak is waterproof and elegant and the bench could be either built in or one that folds up.

It's smart to put the shower controls right by the entrance so users can stay dry while the water is warming up. In addition, technology has made some very nice advances in user-friendly fixtures. A hand-held shower option is a worthwhile investment and there are single-handle mixers offering easier control over flow and temperature for sinks, tubs, and showers. There are even touchscreen-operated showers.

Finally, it's prudent to have bathrooms well-lit. Even during sleep hours, it's important to have sufficient lighting between bed and bathroom. Illuminated light switches are easy to find in the dark and those illuminated grab bars are perfect. Another tactic would be a sensor light that goes on automatically when someone enters a room. A third option would be attractive nightlights that provide adequate light. They come in a variety of styles from purely practical to whimsical.

 

Lynn Pribus and her husband live in a home with many night lights, from basic dollar-store items to an arty metal hummingbird shielding a small blue bulb that was a Christmas gift.

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