Now we've go the house to ourselves.HB Building and design has been re-purposing baths and other areas of the home for retrofitting since I first received AIP certification from ASID in 2005.

When I first mention my role as an Interior Designer for “Aging In Place,” if people never heard the expression before, you can observe their physical change as they begin to understand the idea. At the same time, it brings out other emotions, like fear, denial, anger, sadness or just plain surprise! The next thing they say is, ”That’s for other people, I’m not getting older!” NO MATTER HOW OLD THEY ARE! Everyone says the same thing. People are funny that way.

As parents attempt to “Age in Place”, Baby Boomers experience the difficulties imposed by unnecessary barriers and hazards in the traditionally designed homes of their parents. Boomers will demand that their homes enhance safety and health, enabling them to live in their own homes; not forced into premature institutional living with limited access to old friends and familiar places.

Lower Chair Height makes getting up and down easierThe number one design concern for an AIP designer is client safety, the needs are quite definitive. Everyone goes through the aging process, some sooner, some later. Vision deteriorates, it’s difficult to differentiate colors, shrinking muscle mass makes it more difficult to get in and out of beds or chairs, not being able to lift your feet when walking, tripping on throw rugs and other small barriers on the floor, less strength in hands and arms, reach is limited; the list goes on.

Once I explain these things in a conversational way to our clients, they usually opt for Universal Design, and put a little more thought into how they want to incorporate it into their remodel. We love working with people who recognize this need, and want to get a jump start on aging with new, safe, baths, bedrooms and kitchens. Who wants to age in an aging bath??

The latest in toilets have something called a Wash-let, a built-in bidet. This is one of the greatest breakthroughs in elder care; and for simple personal hygiene in general.

A few of the secrets of the Wash-Let, according to Toto*, the most popular and experienced manufacturer of wash-lets today are:

  • Auto-flush activated by sensors or the simple touch of a button
  • Automatic open/close lid activated by sensors, or the remote control
  • Hands-free, SoftClose seat/lid close smoothly without slamming
  • Gentle, aerated warm water delivered by the wand
  • Front and rear cleansing options
  • Warm-air drying with variable three-temperature setting
  • Automatic air purifier
  • Heated seat with temperature control
  • Convenient wireless remote control with large LCD panel
  • Easy-to-remove docking station for easy cleaning and installation
  • Reinforced base plate for enhanced durability*

If you ask me, this is a great solution to a difficult problem. In addition to being comfortable, easy to use, and saving caregiver energy, they are water efficient, using only an average of 1 gallon vs 4 gallons a day with standard low flow toilets.

To make your accessible bath even easier to maintain, yet still provide elegant function,  add an in-wall or wall mounted toilet system. For remodelers, Geberit has come out with a model that fits between standard studs, so does not require any new framing when doing a remodel. With a wall mounted toilet, it may be installed at a specific height for the client, while providing an easy to clean surface for homeowners or caregivers. These toilets take up less room, allowing more space for transfer and mobility. Some have actuators on the side of the unit, others have decorative in wall actuators, and others have complete digital display remotes!

Your in wall toilet, plus a wash-let, is part of the perfect preparation for an Aging In Place bath design. You won’t ever regret this investment.

Visit www.bathpacks.com to see more about Barrier Free bath design for your home.

* www.totousa.com