Bathroom Design Ideas for the Elderly

Aging in place is the senior care preference for many elderly people. When a senior makes the decision to remain in his own home throughout his elderly years it is important that proper changes are made to the home to ensure the senior is safe and secure. One of the most important areas is the bathroom. The bathroom is the room of the home where the most accidents occur with seniors. Every year seniors are badly hurt slipping, falling, walking into counters, or burning themselves. These risks also pose a danger to caregivers who may also slip, having a senior fall on top of them, or otherwise hurt themselves while attempting to bathe a senior.

To help protect your aging loved one and ensure that he keeps up with his hygiene in the way he needs to, you should consider making some meaningful changes to your senior’s bathroom. If possible, making a total renovation or remodel of the bathroom will allow you to make valuable modifications to the room to address mobility, vision, and cognitive challenges.

When considering bathroom design ideas for the elderly, it is important to keep in mind the specific needs of your loved one so you can make modifications that are helpful specifically to her. You should also keep in mind basic changes that are helpful to all seniors.

Considerations for Designing an Elderly Bathroom

Before you begin a new home design or renovation project, consider the needs of your loved one so you can select the modifications that will best help her to enjoy a safe, comfortable, and healthy bathing experience. Some senior bath ideas include:

  • Make the room bigger: the ideal senior bathroom will have plenty of room that will allow your aging loved one to navigate the room safely especially if a wheelchair is involved. Avoid oddly shaped rooms, such as those with corners or curves. Instead, ensure the door leads to an open area of the room so the senior does not have to try to avoid walls or fixtures.
  • High gloss paint: painting the walls and ceiling of the bathroom with high gloss paint will make cleaning much easier. Helping an old person keep up with his hygiene can be quite messy, so you want to make sure you have surfaces that are easy to wipe up and will not hold onto the bacteria that can accumulate on them. Look for paints that have anti-mold and anti-bacterial properties. This will keep the bathroom healthier, cleaner, and more aesthetically appealing for longer.
  • Tiles: when determining the type of tiles you will use on the floor and walls of the bathroom, you have two basic options. The first is to use smooth, glossy tiles that will be easy to clean. The second is to choose dull, textured tiles that provide better grip for the older person. If your aging loved one has difficulty with mobility, choosing textured tiles for the floor can help prevent slips and make the senior feel more secure and confident walking across the room. You may wish to choose textured tiles for the floor and glossy tiles for the walls for ease of cleaning.
  • Good lighting: if your senior has vision problems, making sure the bathroom is well-lit will help her to feel better about bathing because she will be able to see everything that is going on and not be unnerved by the darkness. Consider installing lighting above the vanity, but also recessed in the ceiling above the shower. Specific fixtures can be installed to prevent damage from the water of the shower, but they will also fill the often dim shower with light.
  • Grab bars: grab bars or poles are an essential element of any bathroom designed for a senior. These bars should be installed throughout the room to offer stability and an emergency grip in case the senior loses his balance or slips. These bars should be installed along the walls, beside the toilet, and in the shower. These bars help the senior sit, stand, walk, and change positions as she is bathing or using the toilet.
  • Adjusted-height toilet: installing a toilet that is higher than conventional toilets will make it easier for your senior to sit and stand. You can choose an ADA-approved adjusted-height fixture, or an additional seat that can be fitted over an existing toilet to raise the height.
  • Wheelchair accessibility: seniors in wheelchairs often have difficulty getting around the bathroom due to fixtures such as cabinets and organizers. Removing the cabinet from under the sink will provide more space for the senior to get around the room, and allow her to get close to the sink for activities like washing her hands or brushing her teeth. Removing sharp-edged counters can also help prevent injuries caused by running into these corners.
  • Arthritis-friendly handles: some faucet handles are more difficult to use than others. If your senior has difficulty turning the water on and off, be sure to replace the handles with ones that are easier for her to use, such as lever style units.


  1. You can also add ramps for seniors. When most people think of wheelchair ramps, then they only think of the wheelchair ramps being needed to enter or exit the home, but there are other places in and around the home that wheelchair ramps are needed for a senior. For a senior to have mobility in and around the home, then wheelchair ramps can add mobility.

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