At Perry Brothers Construction, we highly recommend researching all the possible aging-in-place bathroom accessories when designing your renovation or remodeling project. Products like grab bars, shower stools, and non-slip flooring prevent life-threatening injuries when using your bathroom.

VITALILY BEDNARUK: Hey, this is Vitalily Bednaruk. Today I’ll be interviewing Joe DeMarco, general manager of Perry Brothers Construction. Joe, how’s your day going?

JOE DEMARCO: It’s been pretty good, Vitalily, thanks for having me here.

What Are Some Bathroom Safety Options For Elderly Citizens?

VITALILY BEDNARUK: Oh, yeah, you’re very welcome. Joe, I got a few questions for you today. I’m real interested in bathtubs and showers, specifically about what we can do to keep elderly citizens safe in the bathroom? What are some safety options for older, elderly citizens in their bathroom? Some way that they can stay safe in the bathroom? What are some safety installations we could put in? Any recommendations?

JOE DEMARCO: Well, definitely, as you pretty much said, accidents in a home most often will happen in the bathroom, that’s for sure, especially for our elderly friends out there. There has been a growing trend of homeowners in Massachusetts and New Hampshire who rather than spending all their retirement savings at retirement homes, they’re deciding to upgrade their existing home so they can age in place safely and comfortably, so they can live out their golden years in style. 

I’d say that the most important aging-in-place accessories that you could install in your bathroom are grab bars, shower and bathtub seats, handheld shower heads, and non-slip flooring. Also, too, you gotta be thinking about people in wheelchairs as well. I mean, you want to have doorways that are wheelchair accessible. You want the door to open outward instead of opening into the bathroom so you have more room to make turns in the wheelchair. You want to have countertops that are reachable. Your vanity countertop, you want it reachable from sitting in a wheelchair position.

To go more in specifically though, I mean, yeah, we’ll talk about grab bars for one thing. I mean grab bars made from say aluminum, steel, or whatever other materials, you install them in convenient locations throughout your bathroom on the walls, by the tub, in the shower. These grab bars, they allow an aging-in-place homeowner to just easily access their entire bathroom. When they’re getting out of the shower, they grab the grab bar right on the shower wall. When they’re going into the shower, they might have another grab bar. They might have grab bars between the toilet and the shower and the vanity. They have grab bars located conveniently in places that allow them to traverse the bathroom while minimizing any potential slips and falls.

Slips and falls too, I mean the easiest fix for that would be non-slip flooring. If you want to prevent slips and falls, install as much of that as you can. I would highly recommend installing non-slip flooring in your bathroom. You could use non-slip bath mats as well, but you’d be better off just going all out with non-slip floors across the entire surface area of your bathroom. Because as you know, bathrooms, they have wet conditions and it’s easy, I mean, it’s easy for me who’s not elderly to slip in my own bathroom, so I can only imagine what it’s like for someone who’s been aging in place.

A material for non-slip flooring, that would be like textured tiles for example. They have adhesive strips on them that give you better traction when traversing across your bathroom, and they don’t let water pool up as much, the water disperses throughout the floor instead. Some materials actually absorb the water a little bit as well so you just are less likely to have a spill that’s going to cause a detrimental accident.

Are There Any Color Options For Bathroom Grab Bars And Railings?

VITALILY BEDNARUK: Joey, is there color options we could use for the railings, for the safety railings for elderly citizens in their bathrooms?

JOE DEMARCO: Generally the railings, they’re all going to be aluminum color. They’re going to be chrome, they might be white. I wouldn’t say there’s a ton of aesthetic options when it comes to the grab bars and the railings, but other aging-in-place bathroom accessories, they could come stylized. I mean, the flooring for one example, you could go with more of a colorful mosaic design. You could go for a standard marble stone look. You could get recycled tiles as well, and each tile’s going to be a little different. Maybe you might get some red and purple in there. 

I mean with the grab bars, it’s not really about the visual aesthetic of them. It’s the fact that grab bars are reinforced to the studs of your wall and it just makes it a lot easier for someone to move around. I would say for aging-in-place accessories, functionality is much more important than visual aesthetics.

What Are The Different Models Of Bathroom Grab Bars?

VITALILY BEDNARUK: What about different models in grab bars or safety poles or safety railings for the disabled or for bathroom remodels in general? Is it normally galvanized versus aluminum?

JOE DEMARCO: Yeah, aluminum’s definitely the most popular. You probably get some galvanized ones as well. I mean really it’s not the different materials, it’s the different shapes that you’re getting because different shapes are going to have different uses. You might get a straight grab bar, one that’s more rounded that you could hang a towel on while you’re in the shower. You might get a S-shaped one, a curved grab bar, an angled grab bar, a square grab bar. I mean there’s a lot of different types of grab bars for your bathroom Vitalily.

Where Should You Install A Shower Stool?

VITALILY BEDNARUK: Joe, besides grab bars or safety railings, where would you recommend the best place to put a shower stool?

JOE DEMARCO: Put a shower stool? I would definitely, because for aging in place, I would definitely recommend a tub shower combo rather than just a shower or a bath. I would say a non-slip shower is less likely to cause injury than a bathtub just because you’re walking right in and out of it. I would position the shower seat in this case in the corner of the bathtub, just a nice little rounded seat. You can even get seats that actually fold adjustably. They fold up when you’re not using them and they fold down when you need to use them. You can also get a shower seat that isn’t actually installed into the wall. It’s just a seat you can take in and out of the shower and you just keep it in the shower and you can easily sit down on it whenever you’d like to.

The materials for the seat, I mean I’ve seen tiled bathroom seats, or sorry, shower seats. I’ve seen just plastic ones. There’s a lot of different types of them. Actually to go into the grab bars again, there’s some different materials I forgot to mention. I mean you can get brass grab bars, stainless steel grab bars, typical metal grab bars, vinyl grab bars, plastic grab bars, even acrylic grab bars. Pretty much any material that is used for making a bathtub or even a countertop or vanity, you could get that in as a grab bar as well.

I know I’m kind of going around in circles, but there’s a point to all this. I mean basically the seating for the shower seat and the grab bars in your bathroom is your number one way of creating a successful aging-in-place bathroom. You want to have grab bars located by the entrance to the bathroom. You want to have them located in between the toilet and the vanity. You want to have a grab bar by the bathroom closet. You want to have a grab bar in between the toilet and the tub shower. You want to have some grab bars in the tub shower. 

The last thing you want, I’ll tell you, is you don’t want Grandma grabbing the shower curtain and falling flat on her face onto the bathroom flooring. Not only is that going to be an insurance nightmare and a medical nightmare, but it’s just not good aging-in-place philosophy. You’re not thinking about aging in place if your bathroom has the potential for injuries like that. You’re just designing a regular bathroom at that point.

What Are The Best Mounted-Seats For Showers?

VITALILY BEDNARUK: Joe, what are the best-mounted seats and are mounted seats the best option for showers?

JOE DEMARCO: I would say mounted seats are definitely a better option than a detachable shower seat just because one, a normal shower seat that isn’t attached to the wall, it has potential to slip around. It can be moved, you can physically move it, but a shower seat that’s just installed into the corner of the shower, it’s permanently there so there’s less likely of a chance of injury occurring because, for example, you could walk into your walk-in shower and if you try to sit down on the detached shower seat, you might miss the seat a little bit and then when you sit down it can fall from under you and then you end up falling onto your walk-in shower floor, which defeats the purpose.

I mean, yeah, a seat that’s installed into the wall, that’s permanent, that’s always there. Definitely making sure the seat that’s installed into the wall is a foldable shower seat is important when designing a handicap-accessible bathroom. That is definitely the safest option for your bathroom because if it’s a foldable seat, when you fold it up, you’re actually creating more room inside of your shower. 

Anything that saves space also creates safety in your bathroom. Both saving space and creating a safe environment are key factors when creating an aging-in-place bathroom. A bathroom accessible to your in-laws or a bathroom that’s universally designed to be accessible for all ages and sizes. That’s the goal of aging-in-place remodeling.

How Many Shower Heads Should I Install In My Bathroom?

VITALILY BEDNARUK: Joe, for shower heads, how many shower heads do you recommend? Do you recommend a full ceiling shower head that kind of drips down like a bucket like what the rich mega-mansions have or what else do you recommend?

JOE DEMARCO: Yeah, I mean definitely multiple shower heads is very important. When you’re universally designing a bathroom, you want it to be accessible to all ages and sizes. You want your seven-foot uncle to be able to reach the shower head way down below and you want your eight-year-old niece to be able to reach the shower head that’s a little bit higher.

Not only should you have multiple shower heads installed at various levels on your bathroom walls, you should also have shower heads that are detachable. They should be able to detach off of the wall and have enough room to be able to get those shower heads into hard-to-reach places. That would definitely be very important, especially for, I would say, an older person, they get a little stinkier a little easier and they might need to get that shower head into a certain hard-to-reach place, but I don’t know what it’s like for them.

Installing those bathing options in an aging-in-place bathroom is very important. I mean, types of shower heads, I mean just really, you talk about those rich people waterfall ones, those are really cool. I would highly recommend any shower heads that use recycled water, but you could just get your basic chrome design from a Home Depot or Lowe’s as well. I don’t think the shower heads are that big of a deal. I’d say whatever’s in budget is worth installing in your aging-in-place bathroom.

VITALILY BEDNARUK: Well that sounds like a great, great company you guys have Joe. Well, Joe, nice having you today. I guess we’ll have to catch up next time and talk about what kind of tile floors you guys can install and the different colors of tile floors you guys can install. Joe, you guys offer heated floors?

JOE DEMARCO: Oh, absolutely, yes. I’d love to talk about heated floors on the next podcast. Ditra-Heat actually is the brand I recommend the most. Heated floors are, sorry, not to go too much into it, but the thing that’s great about heated floors is that they always distribute an even, consistent temperature across the bathroom floor, and there’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning and stepping onto a warm floor, especially during the winters here in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I personally am not a fan of stepping on a cold floor during that time of year. Thanks for having me, Vitalily, I appreciate it.

VITALILY BEDNARUK: Yep. On the next one we’ll have to talk about heated floors, we’ll see you on the next one everyone.

JOE DEMARCO: Goodbye, gals and guys.