Bathroom safety. It’s a huge issue for older adults — just watch daytime TV and all those ads for step-in bathtubs. But safe bathrooms don’t have to look boring or institutional.

Kohler, a kitchen and bath manufacturer, has launched a new initiative aimed at seniors.

“We’re talking about aging in place and design solutions,” explains Lynn Schrage, marketing manager for the Kohler Store in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. “We wanted to find a way to help consumers understand things that help them out.”

Here are some of Kohler’s solutions:

» Design the vanity with one side for standing and the other with a removable shelf for seated users.

» An uplift mirrored cabinet by Robern (a Kohler company) opens upward with the touch of a finger. Bottom shelves are accessible when seated.

» There’s also an optional built-in TV mount and outlet inside the cabinet to add a flat screen without wires and clutter.

» Choose strong color contrasts to help older eyes see in the bathroom, especially at night.

» Plan on a higher commode than usual for easier mobility.

» Kohler has introduced a new line of spa bathtubs that soothe aches and pains. They combine the durability of cast iron with the technology of bubble massage.

» Bathing can pose problems, so Schrage suggests planning for transfer seating if you still use a tub. Kohler makes a tub with a built-in ledge and its own seat. The ledge serves as a grip rail, and the seat comes with the tub so you can bathe without getting in.

» Roll-in showers offer the next step in safety.

» Install a slide-bar hand shower that can be used standing or seated, suggests Schrage. Another nice option is what’s called a Turnspray. You can adjust and point the wall-mounted spray head.

» Today’s new Rainhead showers infuse the water with air to make the water feel “fuller” without using more water. Other showerheads can feature thermostatic controls so they become intuitive.

» Finally, be sure to install grab bars.

“Kohler has launched a series of decorative grab bars,” she said. “The details and finish match the faucets.”

The newest faucet finish is brushed gold. It’s a rich gold with a deep, vibrant aura, especially when set against the newest cast-iron color: caviar.


Did you enjoy this article? Make sure you look for our other posts on bathrooms and aging in place.