When it comes to accessibility for those with limited mobility, most people think that open, easy-to-navigate spaces are the key. And while space is definitely an important factor for those who rely on mobility devices, sometimes, more space simply isn’t available. If you have reduced mobility and want to stay in your home, you have to make some accessibility improvements. But what if you have a small bathroom? How can you make this area of your home more accessible? Keep reading to find out.
Remove Unnecessary Items
Clearing the clutter is the first step in opening up any space—whether for accessibility or simple aesthetics. Take a look around your bathroom and see what can be easily removed. Bathroom scales are frequently set out on the tile; these are a major tripping hazard. Extra storage cabinets might be useful, but they make the space smaller; find another place to store whatever’s inside, and remove the cabinet.
Strip down your bathroom to its most essential components, and you’ll be amazed at how much more space you can open up, as well as how much easier it will be to maneuver in that space.
Downsize Large Fixtures
Large bathroom fixtures in a small bathroom can quickly crowd the space. While most bathroom fixtures can’t exactly be downsized (could you imagine having a smaller toilet?), a few can. The most significant one to consider downsizing is your bathroom counter. Countertop space is nice to have, but most people find that they can do without it if they have to.
Downsize your counter space and cabinetry to a single cabinet directly under the sink. The counter and cabinets take up a lot of room in any bathroom, and cutting it down to a single cabinet can free up a lot of space. You might even consider opting out of cabinetry and counters altogether, and installing a pedestal sink instead.
You can use a single sink basin and cabinet for your essential washing, shaving, and teeth brushing, and move your other bathroom routines to a vanity. If you struggle with mobility, a vanity might be a better option for you to do your hair and makeup anyways, as it allows you to sit down in front of a mirror as you get ready for your day, rather than requiring you to stand. So, you’ll be making your bathroom more accessible while also making your morning routine more conducive to your reduced mobility.
Add Safety Bars
Safety bars are a key element of an accessible bathroom, no matter its size. In fact, in a smaller bathroom, you could have a slight advantage in this regard. A smaller space means less distance to traverse and more walls within easy reach when you need stability, and those walls make a perfect place to add safety bars. While you don’t need to add them throughout the entire bathroom, there are a few key places you’ll want to add them—the toilet and the tub/shower.
These 2 locations pose the biggest hazards for seniors with reduced mobility. Showers and tubs have slippery surfaces and ledges you have to step over. Toilets require you to be able to lower yourself onto the seat and stand back up on your own. Added safety bars near these fixtures make using them easier and safer for you.
Of course, you can add safety bars anywhere you wish throughout your bathroom, but you should focus on any places where you quite frequently need a hand for balance and support.
Accessible Bathing Options
Speaking of the tub and shower, adding a safety bar is only a small step in the right direction when it comes to making these fixtures truly accessible. A better option is to replace them with either a walk-in tub, a walk-in shower, or a walk-in combo of them both. There are several components that make these types of fixtures more accessible than their standard counterparts:
- Lower entry step – Standard tubs have a high wall you have to climb over, while walk-in tubs have an accessible door with a low entry. Walk-in showers are also free of obstructions, making it easy to get in and out.
- Comfortable seat – Showers require you to stand while you wash; tubs require you to lower yourself to the level of the floor to bathe. The walk-versions of these have an upright, accessible seat that is much easier (and safer) to use.
- Safety bars – Yes, safety bars again. Walk-in showers and tubs have them built-in, so you can rest assured that they’re secure and sturdy enough to hold your weight.
- Anti-slip surface – Sure, all tubs and showers try to prevent slipping, but walk-in models put a heavier emphasis on safety, so their anti-slip surfaces are more reliable at helping you keep your footing.
A small bathroom doesn’t have to be an obstacle to your mobility. With walk-in showers and other upgrades, it can still be accessible to you.