Sandwich Generation and Bathroom Safety
With people living longer and often staying in their homes longer, there’s a new group known as the “Sandwich Generation.” Those people, generally in their 40s and early 50s, are responsible for their aging parents while still raising their children or paying for college. If you’re one of them, you’re pulled in many directions, busy and probably stressed.
One way to relieve some of the pressure is to make sure your parents have a safe living environment, whether they’re still in their homes or living with you. One of the most dangerous parts of the home is the bathroom, and research shows that for people over 65, 60% of visits to the ER are for falls, and 80 % of them happened in the bathroom.
Here are some things to do to create as safe a bathroom as possible:
- Start with the floor. Install a floor with texturized tiles or choose small tiles and lots of grout for traction. And when you’re choosing tiles, check your selection’s rating for use on floors and wet areas.
- Install a walk-in shower in or in addition to the bathtub. Stepping over a 15-to-20-inch bathtub wall will get harder as the years go by. In your new walk-in shower, you can add glass doors to control the water or just use a good shower curtain. You can design it with no threshold or a thin divider known as a “lean curb.” If you choose a thin or no divider, you’ll need to use waterproof underlayment in a larger area of the floor.
- Add a bench seat and nearby, handy in-wall storage niches that provide easy access to soap, washcloths, and bath products. Choose a wall-mounted handheld shower head that turns off at the spray end. And make sure your water heater is set at 120 degrees or less to avoid scalding. If possible, avoid temporary, portable bath chairs which can be cumbersome to work around and appear institutional.
- Wall-mounted, non-slip texturized grab bars are a must. We recommend against the suction-cup bars which can become dislodged at just the wrong moment.
- You may want to install the vanity higher than the standard 30 to 32 inches to minimize the need for bending over the sink. Some people choose the kitchen-counter height to reduce stress on the back.
- Consider installing a tall toilet. The standard height is 16 inches, but some toilets come in chair height at 17 or 18 inches. Sitting down on the john is easy, but for some, getting back up is hard.
- To add some luxury, why not install a heated towel bar, a bidet, or a heated toilet seat. If you’re going to this much effort, don’t skimp on the details, right?
Planning an accessible bathroom involves a lot of variables. Our skilled bathroom consultants will help you avoid overlooking anything important and make sure you get the bathroom you want, done right the first time. Call today!