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accessible bathroom design aging in place

“Home is where you feel at home and are treated well.” – Dalai Lama

The word “home” is short and simple, but it carries immense meaning. It’s a place where you feel welcomed and truly comfortable; a place you know intimately from top to bottom. That’s why turning a house into a true home is so important. Every person’s needs will be different, but they are all equally valid and vital in creating an excellent quality of life, now and in the future.

At MyLifetimeHome™, we specialize in exactly that. We work with homeowners and carefully consider their needs, desires, and challenges both now and in the future; and we work alongside Calgarians to find solutions that maintain their sense of pride and dignity, no matter the situation. We support lifestyle freedom and accessibility, and we enhance home design to enable more satisfying and liberating outcomes for clients who have made the choice to proactively age in place.

One of the most critical areas for improving homeowner confidence and comfort is bathroom design. Often overlooked in the industry, accessibility in bathrooms is absolutely crucial to overall independence for people with reduced mobility or sensory abilities. If you are considering renovating or rebuilding your bathroom for better aging in place considerations, here are some of the main factors to consider. 

 

Accessible Bathroom Design Elements

Just like no two homeowners are the same, no two accessible bathroom designs will be the same, either. Understanding what you need – and what you will need later in life – is a major part of our discovery and planning process, and will direct our designers on how the final layout and design of your custom home renovation come together.

In general, these accessibility needs can be grouped into four categories:

  • Lighting – improving visibility, especially for areas where glasses may not be worn;
  • Space – to make room for physical equipment, such as walkers, wheelchairs, or medical supplies;
  • Supports – reinforced handles, grips, and seats to prevent or mitigate falls; and
  • Accommodations – installing special equipment, changing heights of fixtures, and other elements to better suit a lifestyle with lowered mobility.

 

Costs of Renovating a Bathroom for Aging in Place

While thinking about all of these changes and how they might impact your quality of life, it’s only natural to wonder how much it can cost to implement them. Our parent company, Pinnacle Group, has an in-depth article detailing the process and cost considerations of bathroom renovations in a Calgary home, as well as how much thoughtfulness goes into each decision. 

While it is impossible to say exactly what the cost will be without a thorough examination of each home, its characteristics, and its owner’s needs, the average renovation usually falls between $15,000-$85,000+. This amount varies depending on factors like:

  • the size of the current bathroom;
  • whether additional space is being added;
  • the condition of the room;
  • the materials used in its construction;
  • the features being installed; and
  • the quality of fixtures, options, or other small details (cabinetry hardware, shower fixtures, faucets, heated flooring, and so on).

Booking a free consultation to get a professional opinion is the best way to get a more accurate understanding of budget ranges for your aging in place bathroom renovation. It’s also the first step in our 5-Step Process, which is how we turn ideas into elegant, fully functional designs that make your life safer and beautiful both now and in the years to come.

 

Tax Benefits and Other Options for Accessible Renovations

Did you know that renovating your bathroom to be more inclusive and accessible may qualify you for a tax benefit, grant, or other form of financial assistance? The federal government, banks, and other financial and legal institutions do this to incentivize investing in a better quality of life for the 8 out of 10 Canadians who wish to age in place in their own homes.

To find out if you can enjoy these benefits, talk to your accountant or a finance professional. You can also find more details and resources on the full MyLifetimeHome™ page on financing, which is a wonderful starting point for your renovation journey.

 

Making a Bathroom Accessible and Safe

Some of the most common questions we are asked here at MyLifetimeHome™ are about the different ways that Calgary homeowners can plan, install, and enjoy a mobility-friendly and fully functional bathroom. We love to see the joy in every client’s face when they realize they can continue to live at home while still maintaining a high quality of life and an independent lifestyle. For bathrooms, these elements usually consist of precautions, protections, and accommodations in the right places.

1) Holistic Room Design

As we age, we often need assistive equipment to move around – wheelchairs, walkers, and in some cases, overhead lifts. In addition, it is also more difficult to reach up to our full height, bend down to low areas, and maintain balance on slippery floors.

As such, many limiting factors in bathroom design can be alleviated by designing the entire room from a holistic, helpful viewpoint. It starts with more space; guidelines such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require a circumference of at least 60”, allowing any person in a wheelchair to easily turn a whole circle without inhibiting items in the way. To do so, elements like a “floating vanity” can be utilized. Better flooring with non-slip finishes, servo-powered cabinets that automatically lower, more height-appropriate medicine cabinetry and comfort-height toilets all make a major difference.

Even simple concepts like contrastive colours will contribute to greater independence and ease of use. For example, contrasting a dark shower floor with lighter walls and surroundings can help someone with reduced vision see where those areas begin and end. This helps prevent falls, accidents, and other injuries. 

2) Lighting Fixtures

This ties into another major concern for aging in place – proper lighting and visibility. The room should be planned with consistent, sufficient lighting in all areas, including supplementary features as needed. Think bigger than just overhead bulbs – vanity lighting, LED panels, and floor light pathways can all assist in creating a true “welcome home” experience every time you walk in. 

Studies show that in order to prevent injuries, bathrooms should have at least 300-700 lumens overall, with up to 800 in areas like the vanity or shower. If you are unsure how to measure this, please reach out and let us know – we would be thrilled to help create a safer space for you and your loved ones. 

3) Shower/Bath Transitions

Statistically, many fall-related accidents happen around the shower or bathtub, and it’s easy to see why. The floor gets slippery, the lighting may not be suitable, and there are often high ledges to step over, with little to grab onto. These issues all need to be addressed!

One of the best things you can do is simply widen your shower entry and stall space, especially if you or a loved one requires mobility equipment. This might involve a wider door or lowering the level of the shower to be curbless. It’s a small change that will make a very big difference for even the most minor loss of mobility. 

4) Support Bars and Shelves

Once upon a time, grab bars and support ledges were unsightly, institutional, and drew unwanted attention. At MyLifetimeHome™, we go to great lengths to ensure that every piece of support hardware is aesthetically beautiful and well-integrated into the overall design of the bathroom. Often, it’s impossible to tell that your new towel rack or soap dish is capable of holding up a fully grown person in case of a fall!

A favourite company of ours is INVISIA, which have top-of-the-line standards and form, while blending right into the rest of your bathroom. These can be placed around the room or installed in high-risk areas like the shower itself – products like their flip-down shower bench offer exceptional support and relaxation to anyone lucky enough to experience them, be it for either luxury use or a mobility need.

5) Plumbing Aesthetics

All too often, nobody thinks about how much a properly placed toilet can contribute to overall comfort. They are usually quite low to the floor, making it difficult for people to sit comfortably if they suffer from joint or muscle issues. 

A useful solution awaits in comfort height toilets, which sit several inches higher than standard toilets and are designed for comfort and enhanced space. When we install these, we leave more space to the walls on either side, allowing for much higher mobility and less difficulty for sitting down or transfers from mobility equipment. Another option is wall-hung toilets which remove the visibility of the tank completely, are hung from the walls making transfers from mobility device to toilet much easier. A final accessory that provides caregivers with a break and those receiving care with more dignity is a toilet hygiene system, allowing paperless toileting.

A key fact to remember – which we specialize in – is that functionality need not interfere with form for true accessibility. We take immense pride in turning your vision of an elegant, beautiful bathroom space within your home into a reality; a space that serves your current and future needs while looking fabulous. We are committed to helping you live a strong and independent lifestyle, and we are always ready to advise on how to get there.

 

Accessible Bathroom Renovation Experts in Calgary

There is no time like the present to be proactive for tomorrow! Even if you don’t need them right away, thinking about how you would implement aging-in-place renovations for your Calgary home can be useful to building them out in the future. Remember, such an endeavour shouldn’t be a source of stress; rather, it is a journey full of opportunities and exciting possibilities, where you can put all your desires and dreams into the real world and then experience them again and again.

The team at MyLifetimeHome™ carries a genuine empathy and respect for the dignity and autonomy for all those who choose to age in place. With many decades of industry experience with our entire team, and a mandate to make a difference for those who need it most, we are extremely proud to be offering specialized aging-in-place services, resources, advice, and assistance to homeowners in Calgary and beyond. 

We are delighted to have clients trust us to build their dreams together around southern Alberta – when you’re ready to get started, contact our professional designers, builders, and other service providers and become another satisfied member of the MyLifetimeHome family!