Home is where the heart is — and that’s exactly the motto many older Americans are beginning to live by. According to AgingInPlace.org, 77 percent of adults 50 and older want to remain in their homes for the long term, but one third of adults 50 years and older say they need to modify their current homes for themselves or a loved one to do so.
The Pew Research Center reports the number of Americans living to be 85-and-over is on the rise, reaching an estimated 19 million by 2050. Because nearly one-third of elders residing in their own homes live alone, it only makes sense that houses are upgraded to assist individuals with aging in place.
With the increase in aging-in-place, universal design bathroom remodeling projects, you’ll want to position your firm to be the first plumbing professional a homeowner would call. One way to stay atop consumer referral lists is to stay on top of industry trends. That way, you will know which special features and products to suggest to a homeowner, depending upon their aging-in-place needs.
The remainder of this article will explore three projects ideal to create safe and worry-free environments for older Americans.
Slip-resistant or non-slip flooring provides safer surroundings, even when wet. This type of flooring is a safe option for bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms — anywhere that water can be spilled or is not clearly visible.
Depending on your customer’s style preference and the degree of safety desired, slip-resistant flooring options range from vinyl to linoleum to rubber, and many more in between.
It doesn’t have to cost your customer an arm and a leg to add a new bathroom in a convenient place. By using affordable above-floor drain pumps and macerators, you can install a new bathroom and its drainage literally anywhere — in the garage or a reconstructed closet, even under a staircase — wherever your toilet and shower will be more easily accessible.
Products like the Saniaccess 3, a macerating pump system for installing a complete bathroom, can handle wastewater from multiple plumbing fixtures simultaneously; e.g., a toilet, sink, shower, and/or a bathtub.
Another innovative product to consider for half bathroom installations is the Sanicompact, a combination of a vitreous china toilet bowl and macerating flush system built into a single, compact fixture that will fit into even the tightest of spaces. Because it is a lower-profile toilet, this stylishly shaped product is specially designed to address the inconvenience brought on by disabilities or aging. The Sanicompacr is also ADA certified as a comfort height toilet.
When upgrading an existing bathroom, be sure to take measures to minimize the risk of falling. We have already mentioned slip-resistant floors. Another example is a walk-in shower that eliminates the need to take a step up into the space — and possibly tripping.
If you are looking to add a new bathroom in an easily accessible location, consider a drain pump such as the Sanishower. An above-floor drain pump will allow you to add a shower without any major construction. This recent basement shower installation featured the Sanishower.
“It would take longer to drill the concrete floor and take the conventional route of replumbing the basement to support a shower,” said the contractor on the project, explaining the decision to install the Sanishower pump. “We needed the most efficient, least expensive way to build the shower in this half bathroom, which had only an existing toilet and a vanity sink.”
Convenience Within Reach
- Shower Accessories: More great aging-in-place conveniences in the shower stall or tub area include: (1) shower benches for resting, relaxing and even storage; as well as (2) strategically positioned grab bars. These accessories offer a practical, yet aesthetically pleasing addition to create a relaxed atmosphere. But attractively designed shower bars can also provide invaluable peace of mind when grabbing onto something solid suddenly becomes necessary.
- Height Adjustments: Kitchens can also be modified to support the aging-in-place Lowering countertops and cabinets to a more convenient height can make mealtimes a breeze. No need to search for a stepping stool to reach items stored faraway: Everything can be right at the homeowner’s fingertips.
- Lever Taps: Replacing conventional cross-handle faucets with taps equipped with lever handles is yet another stylish, but practical upgrade for the home. Ideal for homeowners with joint or muscle stiffness, a simple flip of the lever will turn the water on or off, while another nudge to the right or left will adjust the temperature. You might even consider touchless faucets, a more hygienic alternative that offers even easier activation.
As more Americans embrace more active and longer lives, their homes and the amenities within them must keep pace as well. Taking proper steps to modify a customer’s surroundings, as they gracefully age in the comfort of their home, does not have to have an expensive process.
About the author: Teresa Cardona is the Marketing Manager for plumbing manufacturer Saniflo SFA in Edison, NJ. She studied at the University of Hartford until 2019, holding a bachelor’s degree in Illustration and Design, and a minor in Communications and Marketing.
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