Three Things A Plumber Can Do To Help You Age In Place In Your Home

Posted on: 30 June 2016

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If you are getting older and starting to consider how long you can stay in your home, you're not alone. According to an AARP survey, 87 percent of adults older than age 65 aim to stay where they are instead of moving into a retirement home or facility. Called "aging in place," staying in your home as you get older is possible with a few key updates.  

Your bathroom is one of the most important places to analyze for issues. As much as 80 percent of slips and falls in the home happen in the bathroom, so it's vital to look at potential problems and how to overcome them. While some things are simple -- remove any throw rugs on the floor so you won't slip on them -- other projects may require the help of a plumber. Here are three that can help:

1. Install a taller toilet.

Lowering yourself on to the toilet seat becomes more difficult as you get older and lose some of your ability to balance. But toilets that are a couple inches taller than standard, sometimes called "comfort height" toilets, can help reduce the risk of falling or jarring your body as you sit on the seat.

Adding a taller toilet won't require new pipes or plumbing, but you may want to have a plumber do it to ensure that the seal is properly placed.

While you're at it, you may choose to get a toilet seat that has a nightlight. These are convenient for all ages to have better visibility when getting up to use the bathroom at night.

2. Add a standalone shower or make your shower larger.

A shower that you can walk into, that is not part of your bathtub, can help you if you have mobility issues as you age. Without the tall ledge of a bathtub, you'll be able to gain access if you're using a walker or other aid. Don't have the space in your bathroom? Consider removing the tub in order to accommodate a walk-in shower, especially if you have more than one bathroom.   

In your new shower, a fold-down seat and grab bars will be useful; if you don't need them now, plan for the additional space to install them properly at a later date. Also be sure that your shower hose is long enough to easily pull down so you can clean both yourself and the shower easily.

3. Put in sinks at different levels.

If you have two sinks in your bathroom at two different heights, you can access the lower one more easily should you be in a wheelchair or need to sit while using it. If you currently have countertops, remove them in favor of wall-mounted sinks that you can slide your legs under if you are seated. 

Talk to your plumber about other options for making your bathroom safe and highly usable for you as you get older.