Spa or Safe Haven: Bathroom Ideas For Seniors Have Both

Key Points

  • Accidents in the bathroom are the leading cause of injuries in older adults.

  • Incorporating the right bathroom ideas for senior living prevents falls and injuries.

  • With a few decorating upgrades, a safe bathroom can also be luxurious.

  • Bathroom ideas for senior spaces start with safety and integrate relaxation and enjoyment.

Should you create a spa-like oasis in your bathroom or make it a safe haven to prevent accidental falls? The bathroom ideas for senior living in this article offer both. It's the best of both worlds — a safe bathroom for seniors, as well as an escape from the stresses of life!

It should come as no surprise that falls are the leading cause of injuries in older adults. According to a survey from the CDC, 27.5 percent of seniors reported at least one fall annually. That translates into 35.6 million falls and millions spent on medical bills. The good news is that you can prevent many of those falls with a few safety modifications in the bathroom. That doesn't mean turning your bathroom into an antiseptic hospital restroom. Instead, you can incorporate the following bathroom ideas for senior citizens to create a luxurious space and keep you safe.

Make Your Bathroom Senior-Friendly

You should always think "safety first" when considering your new bathroom design. Then, after you install the safety features as the foundation of your new bathroom, you can expand beyond those features to bring in those relaxing spa vibes.

Here are the safety tips to first incorporate into your bathroom:

Install Grab Bars

The average person spends around nine minutes taking a shower. That is a lot of time for water to accumulate on the shower walls, floors, and tub.

A strategically placed grab bar supports getting in and out of the shower or tub without slipping. You can install a second grab bar beside the toilet for additional mobility support.  

Grab bar for bathroom

Add a Raised Toilet Seat

raised toilet seat adds height to the toilet. That extra height can help if you have issues with standing and sitting. The bathroom is a specific area in the home where you don't want to struggle.

Use Non-Slip Mats

The operative word in "throw rug" is "throw," as in you can throw out your back if you slip on that rug! Swap out the dangerous throw rugs in your bathroom for decorative non-slip mats.

Include a non-slip mat in your bathtub. That will keep you safe from tub puddles and let you shower confidently.

Swap Out Low-Light Bulbs

Combining the steam from the shower with low-light bulbs creates the perfect condition for accidents. That is why you want to swap out the low-light bulbs in the bathroom for brighter bulbs.

You might have to experiment with the wattage on those new bulbs. For example, bulbs that are too bright can create dizziness with certain senior eye conditions.

On the other hand, the correct wattage helps create a calm ambiance.

Picking the Right Tub or Shower

The focal point of a master bathroom is the bathtub or shower.

In many bathrooms, the bathtub and shower are the same. Other bathrooms have a free-standing tub and a walk-in shower.

Which of these bathing options is best for older adults? The answer might involve a look into the future. Right now, you might not be experiencing any mobility or balance issues. What about a few years from now?

If you plan on aging in place, change your bathroom to support you in the future. In other words, it might be a good idea to forgo the tall bathtub in favor of an accessible tub or shower.

Man bathing in shower

The Walk-In Bathtub Option

If you prefer a bathtub, you could opt for a walk-in bathtub. That would replace your current tub with a bathtub model that has a door you open for access.

Once you're safe in the tub, close the door and fill it up. When bath time is over, drain the water and step out again. These tubs can come with built-in benches for added comfort and accessibility. Use a bathtub pillow and you'll be well on your way to paradise!

Consider the following benefits of a walk-in bathtub:

Supports Limited Mobility

A walk-in bathtub supports seniors with limited mobility by allowing access to a walker, scooter, or wheelchair. With some practice, you can easily transfer from those mobility assistance aids to your bathtub bench.

Provides Hydrotherapy

Upgrade your walk-in bathtub with hydrotherapy jets. That is where you can enjoy some of that spa action. These jets can provide soothing relief for arthritis and fibromyalgia. Hydrotherapy can also help with circulation.

Offers a Shower Option

Even though you call it a walk-in bathtub, it can have a shower option. A hand-held shower head puts you in control of where the water goes. Those shower heads have easy-to-use on-and-off features.

Reduces Slips and Falls

Getting in and out of the traditional tub can be challenging at any age. You're always stepping around or into those dreaded puddles. There will be no "climbing over" a walk-in tub: It is literally walking in and out.

Brings Peace of Mind

A walk-in bathtub allows you to maintain your personal hygiene without fear of falling. That promotes your independence and peace of mind.

It also creates a relaxing environment for self-care. A few scented candles, a waterproof pillow, and soothing music playing in the background turn your walk-in tub into a spa tub.

The Walk-In Shower Option

Another design option for bathroom renovation is the walk-in shower. Like the walk-in bathtub, the walk-in shower provides increased access for anyone with mobility issues. Paired with a shower stool, a walk-in shower is a great option for nearly everyone.

These showers can be without a floor barrier. This design lets you walk right into the shower without stepping over a foot barrier. That makes it ADA-compliant.

Safely designed bathroom for seniors

There are lots of options for a walk-in shower design. These showers can include shower benches, handheld shower heads, built-in shelving, and excellent tile work.

These safety tips can seamlessly become part of your new bathroom design without overwhelming your choice of decorating aesthetic. 

Bathroom Luxury on a Budget

Now that you understand all the bathroom ideas for senior safety, it's time to consider decorating. You can create a luxurious bathroom environment without breaking your budget.

Step 1: Declutter

How many items are in your bathroom right now that don't belong there? Clutter makes a bathroom look shabby — not to mention how hard it is to navigate! Take the time to declutter by removing shoes, books, and cleaning supplies that are scattered around.

Clean off your sink area. If you have soap, put it in a dish. Better yet, get a soap dispenser. Keep your toothbrush and toothpaste tucked away in the medicine cabinet.

Go through that medicine cabinet to pull out all your expired medications. They don't belong in there.

If you want to keep some lotions on the sink, put them in a small basket or tray. It's a nice look.

Step 2: Elevate Your Storage

Wicker baskets or decorative trays are a great way to store towels and washcloths. Roll them up like a tube, as the spas do, and stack them on the trays or tuck them into the baskets.

Step 3: Show Off Your Bathroom Window

Utilize a bathroom window to bring in the natural light. That means taking down the drab curtains. You can then use spray-on frost to block out the view but keep in the sunlight.

If the window has a ledge, consider adding small succulent plants for a dash of green.

Step 4: Expand Your Mirrors

Every bathroom has a mirror over the sink that is usually the same width. You could replace that tiny mirror with a more prominent option.

Big mirrors make bathrooms feel more elegant. Think about every nice hotel bathroom you've ever visited. They all have mirror walls!

Step 5: Replace Fixtures

Moving plumbing pipes in a bathroom is an expensive proposition. Replacing fixtures is budget-friendly.

There are many options for fixtures that you can find to match your new decorating design.

Seniors in bathroom

Step 6: Clean the Grout

You don't need to tear up the floor tiles and replace them to create a luxurious-looking bathroom. However, you do have to clean the grout.

This task isn't just regular mopping but getting down on the floor with the wire brush to bleach-clean all the grout.

That might be one of those tasks worth bringing in a professional to get done and not put your back at risk!

A Fresh Coat of Paint

A fresh coat of paint can work wonders in your bathroom. It will make everything look fresh and clean. It can also provide the decorating accent that takes your bathroom to the next level.

Consider these paint color suggestions for your bathroom:

Before you lock down your choice of paint color, you should paint small squares of your top picks on your bathroom wall. That way, you can see what the colors will look like when they dry and in your bathroom light.

Decorating Accents

"Designing for the home has much in common with fashion. Both clothes and home decoration are ways of projecting yourself." – Diane Von Furstenberg

Senior using shower bench in bathroom

After you've installed the senior safety features and walk-in shower and repainted your bathroom, it's time to add in some decorating accents.

These little touches bring personality to every room, including your bathroom. That's how you "project yourself.

Install Café Curtains

A café curtain is a "half" curtain covering the bottom half of your bathroom window. This lets in the light but keeps the privacy.

Hang Up Photos

Photos are for more than just the living room. You can find plenty of wall space in your bathroom to hang a collection of favorite family photos.

Just think of all the smiles you'll create every time you glance at those photos.

Add Fresh Flowers

Like your photos, fresh flowers in a vase can also work in your bathroom. They can sit on a shelf or on your vanity.

However, you'll get bonus points if you cut those flowers from your garden!

Splurge on Monogram Towels

If you keep your towels on a rack, splurge on a few monogrammed towels to display when your company arrives. Monograms make everything look fancy.

Add a Decorative Soap Dispenser

A soap dispenser doesn't have to be a disposable plastic container from the grocery store. Instead, pick a permanent soap dispenser that matches your bathroom's color scheme and refill it as needed.

Bring in Artificial Plants

To avoid swapping out fresh flowers, bring artificial plants into your bathroom for bursts of greenery. Just be sure to keep them clean.

Put Up Wallpaper

Many bathrooms have half-tile and half-plaster walls. Instead of painting on the plaster half, use wallpaper. You can find many terrific patterns that give your bathroom plenty of panache.

Add a Shelf

Adding a shelf to your bathroom is one way to keep clutter off the sink. Senior-friendly shelves should be at eye level. That shelf is a perfect place for some favorite souvenirs you've collected on your travels. Just keep them to a minimum.

Elderly woman in bathroom

Put Out a Fragrance

What is your favorite fragrance? Whatever the answer, you will surely find a version of that fragrance in a candle or essential oil. That will be much nicer in your bathroom than aerosol sprays.

Relax and Enjoy

When your bathroom redesign is complete, and you feel safe, you can truly relax and enjoy that space.

Whether it's a long soak in your walk-in tub or a warm pulsating shower, your new bathroom can bring the spa experience into your home. That will be awesome for your retirement.

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