We are reader supported. At no cost to you, we may get a commission if you purchase through links in this post.

Adaptive Bathroom Equipment – How to Make a Bathroom Safe for the Elderly?

For people with limited mobility, such as those confined to a wheelchair, safely entering and exiting bathroom spaces can be difficult and pose unique challenges.

Adaptive bathroom equipment can make a bathroom safe for the elderly and help seniors use traditional bathroom facilities. This allows the elderly to live longer in their homes and helps them age in place.

Some examples of adaptive bathroom equipment are grab bars, step stools, transfer benches, elderly safe bathtubs, shower seats, toilet safety rails and walk-in baths.

Many of these can be easily installed without overhauling your entire bathroom space. Most of them come in transportable or transferable styles. So you can take them with you when you travel, or tuck them out of the way if necessary for ease of movement.

A walk in tub is an example of adaptive bathroom equipment

A walk-in tub

Things like retractable or removable shower heads and grab bars are readily available at your local bath supply store. They can be an easy way to make your bathroom more accessible. Additional items, like a bathroom wheelchair, commodes, and transfer seats are relatively easy to find at any accessibility supply store. These can be easily wheeled out or stored away depending on the need.

More permanent alterations to the bathroom space, such as walk-in baths, bath lifts, or a wheelchair-accessible shower, can be installed by a professional team. These alterations can make any bathroom more accessible for an individual with mobility concerns.

While many of these items are considered simple, the presence of them can help return a measure of autonomy to people who are living mobility concerns.

Shower and Bath Options

Moving from a wheelchair to a shower or bath area can be difficult. It can pose unique challenges due to the possibility of slip and fall injuries. Installation of a simple grab bar on the outside of a shower or bath can help a person lower themselves down safely reducing the risk of slipping or falling.

A grab bar is incredibly useful for people with a limited range of mobility who need a helping hand pulling themselves up from or lowering themselves down into the bath area.

An adaptive bathroom with shower chair and grab bars in the right places

An adaptive bathroom with shower chair and grab bars in the right places

Other adaptive bathroom equipment features that can help make your shower or bath area more accessible are transfer and shower chairs. Transfer chairs allow an individual to move from one seating area to the other, and are often angled over the edge of a bathtub or shower.

Shower chairs come in the form of bench seats that are set up in a shower to allow an individual to sit comfortably while showering. These amenities are best paired with adjustable and extendable showerheads, as they allow the individual to easily reach all areas while bathing. For heavier people, you also have the option of buying a bariatric shower chair.

If you or your loved one finds themselves wheelchair-bound for any length of time, it may be worthwhile to invest in a wheelchair accessible shower or a walk-in bath. Walk-in baths are best for individuals who have some form of mobility but may struggle with the up-and-down motion of sitting into a low tub.

The walk-in bathtub allows them to bathe at a raised height, thus removing some of the strain placed on them by raising and lowering themselves into the bathtub. A walk-in shower or a wheelchair accessible shower is best for individuals who are largely confined to a wheelchair, as it does not have any lip or edge that needs to be stepped over to enter the shower.

While each of these amenities seems simple and their own right, they can make a big difference in the life of someone with mobility concerns, and the presence of these features can return a level of autonomy to an individual who finds themselves wheelchair-bound. It can also make providing care much easier for caregivers, and help prevent injuries to both the individual who needs the assistance and the care provider.

Toilet Accessibility Options

For some people, transferring from a wheelchair to a toilet can be difficult or impossible due to their unique mobility concerns. In many cases, a bathroom wheelchair can be used for those who cannot make the transfer from the wheelchair to the toilet.

Adjustable Height Toilet Seat with Safety Rails

Adjustable Height Toilet Seat with Safety Rails

For people who have slightly more mobility, but are unable to make it upstairs or across the house to the bathroom, a bedside commode can be placed in their living space to make it easier for them to access the facilities.

Many of these adaptive bathroom equipment options are easy to transfer from one room to another, or one space to another, making them ideal for travel situations. Since they do not require an extensive overhaul to the home or living space of the individual, they are fairly inexpensive to install and can help an individual with mobility difficulties access bathroom facilities without adding undue stress to themselves.

Another great option for the toilet is the bidet toilet seat. It helps in proper cleaning after you’ve done your business and improves overall hygiene.

Bidet Toilet

Bidet Toilet

Features like the bathroom wheelchair, which has a commode installed directly on the inside, can also be useful for individuals with incontinence issues, especially in a long-term care facility.

Here is a YouTube video explaining how to bedside commode frame over the toilet:

The Easiest Way to Install a Bedside Commode Frame Over the Toilet for Extra Support

Having these kinds of adaptive bathroom equipment can enormously help a person with mobility concerns access areas that other people take for granted.

The ability to use the bathroom and shower without having to ask the aid of a caregiver or family member can allow those who are confined to a wheelchair or who have a limited range of mobility to live their lives on their own terms again.

These devices can also aid a caregiver in helping an individual with mobility concerns without fear of injuring themselves or their wards.

If you are looking for ways to make your bathroom more accessible to people with limited mobility, it is best to research the wide range of adaptive bathroom equipment options to figure out what works best for your unique situation.

Gaurav Dhir, B. Tech, is an engineer by training. He also holds the degree of PGDCM from the prestigious IIM Calcutta. Gaurav is responsible for the health and wellness of 4 generations including his son, elderly parents and very elderly grandparents. He is a wellness aficionado and loves keeping and staying healthy.