Making Your Home User-Friendly For Those With Age-Related Health Concerns

If you've got people in your home whose health is getting worse as they age, especially their vision, flexibility, or strength, modifying your home is essential. By changing aspects like plumbing fixtures so that they are located in areas that are easier to reach and that contrast more with surrounding features, you can help these people retain as much independence as possible. Be aware, though, that these changes often require redoing and moving plumbing pipes and drains.

Re-Locating Controls

Making your home more user-friendly for people who can't see well or who can't bend down as much as they used to means ensuring everything is within easy reach. This includes shower and bathtub controls, which can be raised up so that the person doesn't have to bend down as much to reach them. The controls can also be re-located to be near a bench or seat in a shower stall.

However, accomplishing that is more than a matter of just remodeling the shower stall's outer configuration. You'll have to raise or re-route the plumbing so that the pipes reach the area where you want the fixtures to be.

The type of shower controls might have to be changed as well; many older showers have round knobs housed in clear plastic with tiny temperature markings. The showers still work fine, so it's not surprising that these haven't been updated with newer controls that use levers. But if you have someone with increasing dexterity problems, changing the controls so that they use levers will reduce frustration.

However, that often means redoing the valves and pipes inside the shower wall because the newer controls use a slightly different pipe setup. A good plumber will be able to accomplish all of this within a few days.

Installing Contrasting Plumbing Fixtures

Color and contrast, too, are helpful. The lever-type shower controls are usually made of metal and contrast easily with lighter-colored shower walls. Placing dark-colored non-slip tub grips around the drain can help those with vision problems see the drain location more easily -- essential if the drain in a shower stall is located in the center of the stall instead of by the wall. And, of course, a plumber can always re-locate the drain and drain pipes.

The same goes for sink fixtures. Installing new faucets and changing faucet handles to dark levers instead of clear plastic knobs means better grip and better visibility. The levers also have the additional advantage in that if someone forgets to turn off a faucet all the way, the levers will be visibly out of alignment. Many times faucets can be on a little and let out a stream of water that is almost silent. With knobs, you can't really see that the faucet is still on. But with levers, you (or the person with the vision issues) will know that the faucet is still running and wasting water.

Additional modifications include placing tape in contrasting colors on tub edges, shower stall borders, seat edges, and cabinet edges. You can also install different-colored toilet seats.

If you want more information on changing out faucets, re-locating pipes and drains, and other plumbing modifications, contact a plumber like Walt's Plumbing. They'll know of ways to make the bathroom fixtures easier to use and more visible so that everyone in the home can use the bathroom without help.