The older we get, the less the world around us is built for our needs. This makes it essential to ensure that all the everyday amenities we take for granted are as accessible as possible to seniors with changing physical capabilities. One of those amenities is something we use every day – the humble shower. In this guide, we’ll walk you through all you need to know about low-step showers, how to choose the perfect one, and ways to make them even safer for seniors.
Understanding the Challenges Seniors Face
Low-step showers are suitable for anyone to use, but especially seniors. This is because of the unique set of challenges seniors face as they age. Low-step showers for seniors aren’t just a matter of convenience but necessity and comfort – and it’s because of two main challenges.
Reduced Range of Motion
Seniors have varying degrees of a limited range of motion as they age. Some experience difficulty bending unassisted, while others might have trouble raising their limbs past a certain point. This limited range of motion can be worsened by chronic conditions such as arthritis.
The Risk of Falling
The CDC reports that there are about 36 million falls among seniors every year in the US. Our sense of balance naturally declines with age. Couple that with diminishing reflexes, and it’s no wonder that seniors are so prone to falling.
These challenges are why low-step showers are a perfect solution for seniors. You don’t have to lift your legs as high to enter a low-step shower, which is ideal for those with a limited range of motion. This also puts you in a less precarious position and less likely to fall.
What to Consider Before Choosing a Low-Step Shower
Before we go over the different types of low-step shower curtains available for seniors, let’s discuss some of the important factors you should consider for your installation. These could affect the cost, size, and time to complete your new shower.
Are you installing your low-step shower from scratch or do you have an existing shower-in-bathtub, separate shower and bathtub, or shower-only setup? Each of these presents its own set of challenges for your contractors which could make the project take longer to complete or cost more.
Low-step shower installations vary, and so do their associated remodeling costs. Once you know what price range you’re comfortable with, it’s easier to get a customized quote that will meet your needs without going over budget. Factors that increase your budget include size, materials, customizations, and labor costs.
Showers can be customized to your exact specifications. So, if you have trouble standing for long periods, balancing yourself or reaching for things, these are all accessibility requires your low-step shower needs to address. Otherwise, you’ve just solved the problem of getting into the shower but none of the challenges within the shower.
Low-Step Shower Options for Seniors
Okay, so you know why you require a low-step shower and you’re aware of all the factors that could influence your installation – now it’s time to look at your options.
Traditional showers with lower curbs
These showers are suited for individuals who can still lift their legs, but not high enough to easily enter a shower with a conventional curb or a shower-in-tub setup. The curb for these low-step installations is usually no higher than an inch and a quarter.
These are low-step shower installations with no doors and a shower entry that’s level with the bathroom floor. They usually have a floor that slopes downward toward the center of the shower to prevent water runoff, and a glass panel on one side to stop splashes.
These are installations without any doors, enclosures, or curtains. They’re built in such a way that the entire bathroom can get wet without any issues. They use waterproofed materials on some surfaces and strategically placed drains to ensure the water level never rises off the floor. They’re perfect for individuals who need to be in wheelchairs or other mobility aids at all times.
Safety and Accessibility Enhancements
We briefly touched on your accessibility needs as a core factor when choosing a low-step shower installation. Now it’s time to address all the features you need to include to address those accessibility needs effectively:
- Grab bars – These will ensure you always have somewhere to brace yourself when sitting, standing, or changing positions.
- Slip-proof floors – You can either choose slip-proof floor tiles or a bathmat to ensure your feet always have adequate grip.
- Shower seat – This is an important feature for people in wheelchairs to switch to or those who can’t stand unassisted for too long.
- Shower caddy – This would need to be placed somewhere you can always reach, even when seated.
- Scald guard – This prevents water from getting dangerously hot, which could cause burns for seniors who can’t move away from the stream fast enough.
Now that you know everything about low-step showers for seniors, the fun part begins. Take a look at what we can do for your bathroom remodeling and contact us when you’re ready to build a shower that is safe, accessible, and convenient for seniors.