Making Bathrooms Safer for Seniors

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Today’s products combine functionality with style.

No one wants a bathroom that looks like a hospital room. Aging clients who want to stay in their homes as long as possible have high expectations. These seniors don’t want to compromise luxury and convenience for the sake of obtaining basic safety essentials.  Let’s face it—among most aging individuals today, there is a perception that in order to need a safety product like a grab bar, a person must be very old or suffer from an illness.  This is simply not the case. Having attractive safety product alternatives in your portfolio will allow you to overcome common objections people have when faced with the prospect of aging into their bathroom.

DISGUISED SAFETY

“Safety-enhanced bathroom accessories” represent a growing product category. These are bathroom accessories that have grab bars cleverly hidden within the design.  While there is a tremendous stigma associated with grabs bars and similar products, this obstacle can be overcome with attention to design and style. By increasing your product offerings to include high-end grab bars not found at any big box store, you will have an easier time adding sales to your bottom line.

CONTRASTING COLORS

While many associate a bright white bathroom with cleanliness, white can be a problematic color for seniors. As we age, our color perception changes, making it increasingly difficult to discern colors without contrast. For example, the older we get, the more difficult it is to locate a white toilet seat if the flooring is also light colored. Having wall and floor colors that contrast with fixtures and countertops will provide a safer environment as your clients age into their homes.

BATH BOARDS AND BENCHES

As we age, entering and exiting the tub can be a great challenge. The use of bath boards and benches enhances safety by providing a resting point while using handheld shower controls. While generic plastic seats and benches have been on the market for years, their attractiveness leaves a lot to be desired.  Today’s marketplace is experiencing an influx of new seats made out of Brazilian walnut or teak. They are much more appealing, and clients embrace the fine, spa-like designs.

ACCESSIBLE DOORS

It’s easy to overlook this product, but accessible doors are an important product category. An easy solution is the Swing Clear Hinge from Stanley Hardware. The special hinges on this door allow for it to swing completely clear of the opening, resulting in barrier-free use of the entire opening. An alternative to hinges—and an increasing trend in care facilities—is a pocket door, which slides into the wall. While not all clients will require wheelchair use, they may require a walker or rollator. Incorporating accessible doors into a home bathroom helps prepare for these possibilities by making the room easier to access.

HOME VALUES

We have all dealt with clients who are hesitant to add safety products to their bathrooms strictly because of investment concerns. Homeowners are afraid to add a grab bar because they feel it will bring down their resell home value. According to the Remodeling Cost vs.  Value Report of 2010–2011, a bathroom remodel is one of the best renovation investments you can make. Throw into the mix that an aging population will require the exact products your client is considering, and bathroom safety products become even more marketable. It’s easy to assist your clients with safety requirements without compromising their sense of style or home value. Whether your client is 65 or 85—or even 50 years old and looking to make their parents’ bathroom safer—every customer presents an opportunity.  Your expertise, service and knowledge of high-end products will be appreciated by your soon-to-be loyal clients.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ian Crawford is the marketing and media relations director with HealthCraft Products. He can be reached at ian@invisia collection.com. Article used with permission.

Click here to see our collection of Bathroom Grab Bars.