Because we spend so much time in the bathroom, it is worthwhile to consider investing in a bathroom to serve your needs for a long time. Pinterest and other design resources are encouraging people to think about creating a spa-like atmosphere for the bathroom. We all like the idea of relaxing in a luxurious bathroom now and in the distant future. From an occupational therapist perspective, you can marry the functional demands of a bathroom with aesthetics to create a bathroom that performs for any age or ability.
1) The first step when planning a future-proof bathroom is to contemplate: who is going to use the bathroom? How many family members will be using the bathroom daily? Consider the ages of family members, their height, weight, and their abilities. What is the daily routine? What tasks will be completed in the bathroom?
Here is an example of what that may look like. Jim and Pam are planning on redesigning their bathroom. The couple works full time and enjoy staying active outdoors. They are thinking about retiring in five years to visit their son across the country more often. Jim and Pam want a double sink in the bathroom to avoid waiting while getting ready for work. Jim has a history of back injuries which he attributes to his 6'4 height and bending over to kiss Pam who is 5'3. They also want the bathroom to accommodate visits from their grandchildren, ages one and three, and their closest friend who uses a cane to walk.
2) Consult with an occupational therapist.
There are many factors when designing a future-proof bathroom that include ergonomics, function, and anthropometrics. You do not want to risk squandering money or a low quality outcome. Occupational therapists consider how the environment affects a person's ability to perform tasks and how a person's needs will differ from the next person. Occupational therapists collaborate with other professionals, such as contractors, builders, architects, and interior designers to list a few, to create the bathroom that will fit your needs for the long term. You will find guaranteed satisfaction with the result of the bathroom remodel if you include an occupational therapist.
3) Consider bathroom ideas that work for all ages.
Make the bathroom bigger. Oftentimes, the bathroom is one of the smallest rooms in the house. You will be happier if an external wall can move to dedicate more space to the bathroom.
Lever-style handles on the sink and shower faucets will make turning water on/off, adjusting water temperature, and changing water pressure easier for people of all abilities.
Install a 3 in 1 shower head with a handheld shower head on a sliding rail for options for someone to stand or sit on a shower bench or chair.
Think about creating a wet room that includes the bathtub and shower with a waterproofed floor with a drain. A shower spray could reach water throughout the wet room and floor for cleaning purposes. You can separate the bathroom into a wet room and dry room to allow people to use the sink. This also saves money from waterproofing the entire bathroom! Read more about wet rooms by clicking here from Houzz. Or click on the picture below to go to HGTV's article on wet rooms.
Accommodate the toilet height and bathroom counter height for the user. In our example above, Jim and Pam may benefit from a double sink that allows flexibility in height to accommodate Jim's 6'4 stature and Pam's 5'3 frame. The couple would benefit from a comfort height toilet to make it safer for Jim and Pam when standing up after toileting.