A Bathroom Accessibility Remodel

My 3/23/11 article, You Can’t be too Careful, introduced steps I took getting ready for Grandma to move in. This article follows up with details about changes that were needed for bathroom accessiblity.  The objective of these two articles is to encourage you to prepare BEFORE there’s a need when it’s cheaper.

Remodeling a bathroom for a disabled grandmaDecisions

There are lots of choices to make when remodeling a home. We wanted to make things easier for Grandma but without degrading the value of the home, and hopefully increasing its value if possible.

Changing the master bath would not have fit in with our future plans, so we only considered the other two bathrooms. They were virtually mirrored twins, with standard tub, commode, counter and sink configurations. We weighed several options, including going with a special handicap shower set up, or using a general contractor and our own design ideas.

We chose a local contractor that specialized in baths and kitchens and went with a simplified plan that would make the bathroom accessible without making it permanently “handicapped.” For better or worse, we made the design decisions ourselves.

I hoped the remodel would be complete in a couple of weeks. Yeah, right! There was much more to remodeling than I considered.

Is the door to the bath wide enough? Is there room to make it wider?  How can we make the sink accessible for someone in a wheel chair? Do we want a handicap accessible shower floor, like the ones you see in some hotel rooms? How high should the toilet be? How much room does Grandma’s bathroom stuff take up? Can she access everything? Will she need to?

All these questions took planning and time. And then there was the city permitting process, since we were changing plumbing and electrical. As these questions were addressed new ones popped up. We had to pick out and order the tile, wall paper, and fixtures, all before the remodel can even start. And, of course, someone has to take some time off during the construction process.

As I said in my earlier article, before Grandma came to live with us, she was staying in a nursing home recuperating from a hip fracture. That’s when we frantically started getting the home ready. We almost got everything done by the time when her Medicare funds for the nursing home ran out. Only the wall paper and some small fixture remained to be done. The whole project took about three full months.

Here’s how it looked after the remodel.

Remodeling a bathroom for a disabled grandma

We thought we had covered most of the needs for Grandma. The door was changed to a wider pocket door that slides in and out when closed. (We had to do this because of the angle of the adjoining room and closet and the required relocation of electrical switches.) We installed a pedestal sink for wheelchair access. These modifications worked OK for bringing Grandma home from the nursing home.

Next, we had to learn how to transfer Grandma on and off the toilet and into a shower chair for in-home nursing care. At the nursing home, the staff did a lot for Grandma instead of pushing her to do more herself and rehabilitate. We needed to change this.

With visits from rehabilitation nurses (twice and week), great progress has been made. After we added grab-bar support aids to the bathroom, Grandma could come and go for bathroom visits on her own and transfer herself to the seat.

Here’s how the bathroom looks now.

Remodeling a bathroom for a disabled grandma

These pictures show the current configuration, which we use for Grandma’s assistance. The toilet seat is removable but adjustable for a very tight fit. It is the second version we tried. The first one had a latch at the rear connecting to the normal top screws on the toilet, but they allowed things to wiggle, and Grandma didn’t feel secure. This model has a rubber lip below the front and a twist handle to screw it forward for a tight fit.

The sliding shower chair allows Grandma to transfer from her walker, turns 90 degrees, and then slide into the shower. I moved the support for her shower head to the safety bar and added a push on/off valve to the handle. We can turn the water on at the regular wall valve, and when she’s ready she can turn it on/off from the seat.

I hope this story, and these pictures, helps others. It was a long and time consuming learning process for us. My best advice to others is, if such a remodeling project is a possibility, do it before it’s needed. If we were able to move Grandma Home early in the rehab process, I feel she would have progressed a lot faster.

Editor’s Remarks

Be sure to check out our many other articles on home renovations and designs for independent living and the hundreds of photo examples we’ve posted on Pinterest, as well as this article on The Future of Universal Design.

3 thoughts on “A Bathroom Accessibility Remodel

  1. I’ve been browsing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me.
    In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did,
    the net will be much more useful than ever before.
    I could not refrain from commenting. Very well written!|
    Love the website! Where is the newsletter sign-up box?

  2. *Remodeling the tub so that it has a low lip would make things easier for the elderly. My parents have been talking about doing the same thing since my dad is having mobility problems. Did the basic <a href=’http://www.quickqualityplumbingutah.com/utah-county-plumbing-repair/plumbing-remodeling/’ > plumbing</a> have to be remodeled as well?

  3. *It’s cool to see that there are services that are dedicated to remodeling homes to fit the needs of seniors and those who are handicapped. This not only makes the lives of those who are handicapped easier, but it also does it for the families and loved ones who are with them. I’m grateful for these services and all that they do to help people who are in need of remodeling services like this. http://www.carlsonprojectsinc.com/services/remodeling/&nbsp;

Comments are closed.