Apr 152012

When you have, or live with someone who has, a disability then you know that accessibility in your home is vital. Even someone who has difficulty moving around may need accessibility upgrades. When remodeling for accessibility, the bathroom is the first area you should target. It is the room used the most often, and with all the hard surfaces and water, it’s also the easiest place to get hurt. Adding a walk in shower can go a long way toward increasing accessibility.

As we age, it can become harder and harder to move around. The loss of independence is frustrating, and for many of the elderly, it’s very embarrassing because they can’t do things on their own anymore. A young person thinks nothing of stepping over the side of the tub to take a shower, but for someone who uses a walker, the tub might as well be a mountain.

However, a walk in shower can eliminate a lot of this frustration and embarrassment. It is easy for someone with a walker to walk straight into a walk in shower. Walk in showers for seniors also assist caregivers with helping a senior to wash. This is especially helpful for caregivers who many not be physically strong. Even someone with limited mobility can usually get inside a walk in shower.

Extra safety features can be added easily: a textured floor for slip resistance, a chair or fold down bench, large, easy to turn faucets, and a removable shower head. A walk in shower can easily be fitted with a fixed shower head for standing use and a hand held one for sitting use.

A hand held shower head is perhaps one of the best things you can add to any shower. It makes it so much easier to reach all parts that anyone, disabled or able bodied, will appreciate it. Without making any other changes to your bathroom, switching out your fixed shower head for a hand held one is super easy. You can buy a basic one for under $25. Once you replace your current shower head you’ll wonder why you didn’t do so sooner.

The lower level hand held shower heads, as mentioned above, have one shower head that fits into a bracket for standing, and can be removed for hand held use. In contrast, high end models of walk in shower will have two separate shower heads – one fixed, and the other hand held. The hand held one will also be in a mount so that is out of the way. This mount will be attached to a shower riser rail – a bar that attaches to the wall to which the mount is in turn attached.

Delta Faucet 75700 Seven-Spray Hand Shower, Chrome
This is important to note because depending on the placement of the riser rail, the hand held shower head can be put at a level that works better for someone sitting. Sometimes the overhead shower head will be too high if you are sitting, and this second option gives the opportunity to have another shower head lower down, but that can still be unhooked from it’s mount and used to rinse off.

A walk in shower can also minimize the amount of water spilled on the floor since they are large enough to dry off inside. This lessens the chance of slipping, which is a benefit for everyone, not just seniors and the disabled.

A walk in bathtub is a great accessibility upgrade, but many people just prefer a shower to a bath. Also, a walk in bathtub, while accessible, isn’t desired by most people. Ideally, any accessibility upgrades will blend in so as to be almost unnoticeable, yet fully available. This means that an accessible bathroom doesn’t have to be stark. It doesn’t have to scream “disabled” either. It can be beautiful as well as safe.

If cost is an issue, then there are many prefabricated walk in shower units available. There are walk in shower kits that can be easily assembled. There are also units specifically made for those with disabilities that are ADA approved. Some of these units are a style that are the same length as a bathtub with the drain at the same end. This means you can add convert your bathtub without too much effort.

Whether you want a fully accessibility upgrade for someone with a disability, or you just want some touches to help as you age, a walk in shower is a great addition to a bathroom. With the many styles and features available, it is easy to find something to fit any need.

For more information, please see:

  1. http://www.handicap-showers.net/
  2. http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/housing/info-01-2011/aging_in_your_own_space.html

  2 Responses to “Walk In Showers For Seniors: Adding Accessibility By Adding A Walk In Shower”

Comments (2)
  1. Hi,
    My mother is an elderly cardiac patient with a history of falls, was wondering if Medicaid or Medicare cover any portion of the cost for a walk in ?shower or walk in tub

  2. I don’t know if they would cover the cost; I would suggest contacting your local Medicare and/or Medicaid office to see if they can give your more information.

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