CASE STUDY: Homeowner Benefits from Aging in Place Remodel Just Months After Completion – Long Before She Thought She’d Need It

At 65 and in good health, Sue recently bought a house with the intention of it being her forever home. However, she recognized that while her master bathroom had been updated, it had not been designed for aging in place or wheelchair accessibility. It was a cramped space, the existing vanities were too tall for her, the curb-less shower nor the bench inside was accessible by wheelchair, and Sue didn’t like the bathroom’s cold aesthetic vibe. She wanted a pretty, Victorian-inspired aesthetic in her favorite colors to make her smile every day.

Years prior, Sue had taken care of her elderly mother and knew firsthand how difficult and unsafe it is for a senior or caregiver to maneuver a standard, non-Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant bathroom. Sue did not want she or her daughter to go through that.

Sue understood that remodeling her master bathroom would be necessary to make that dream a reality and that she would need an Aging in Place Remodel Designer to get it right and achieve the desired result. Contemplating retirement, Sue decided to make the investment and proceed with the design and remodel before retiring.   

Done correctly by a qualified professional, an Aging in Place ready bathroom will help keep Sue in her home and out of assisted living later, as she desires. So, 55+ TLC Interior Design was hired.

Sue’s other request was to include in the remodel design a freestanding tub she had her heart set on and had already purchased. We always advise clients against tubs for safety reasons. They are a trip, slip and fall hazard, particularly for adults 55+. Our mission is to make environments safe, easy-to-use, comfortable and beautiful for clients to thrive in. We want our clients to be safe.

Unable to convince Sue to forego adding her bathtub for safety reasons, she promised to remove or not use the tub if she begins having mobility or balance issues. So, the tub became part of the design plan along with a properly installed grab bar next to the tub to lend support when she enters and exits.

The Design Solution

The new master bathroom was designed to be fully ADA-complaint. As a result, the accessibility, functionality and overall aesthetics of the bathroom were significantly improved. It looks and feels much larger, open and less cumbersome.  

Before
After

New slip-resistant flooring provides safer, easy movement throughout the bathroom and shower. The appropriate light necessary for adults 55+ was calculated and designed in to make daily activities easier and prevent falls.

Before
After

A curb-less, door-less shower with reachable shampoo niches was constructed. A beautiful ADA-compliant shower seat, fixtures, support bars and hardware were installed to ADA code with proper wall braces and proper locations.   A word of caution – curb-less showers aren’t simple to build, and they need to meet ADA-code. We have seen many incorrectly built curb-less showers, by untrained contractors or that were DYI projects, which had to be torn out and re-constructed

because the water flowed into the middle of the bathroom instead of down the drain. Most contractors aren’t trained or experienced in constructing curb-less showers. But they don’t tell you that.

55+ TLC only partners with licensed, bonded and insured contractors that are trained and experienced in building proper functioning, code-compliant curb-less showers. We want our clients to have beautiful, problem-free living environments.

A custom-designed beautiful, wheelchair-accessible vanity and linen closet allows for easy access and storage. The new vanity height works great for Sue now and also will if she ever needs a wheelchair or walker in the future.

Before
After

Aging in Place Helps Prevent Falls, Which Are a Big Problem

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Every year, 1 out of 3  adults age 65 and older will experience a fall.
  • Up to 30% of those who fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries or death.
  • Once someone has fallen they are 2 to 3 times likely to fall again.

According to the Home Safety Council — State of Home Safety in America, 2011

  • Approximately two thirds of all injuries occurred in the tub or shower, and approximately half were precipitated by bathing or showering, slipping, or getting out of the tub or shower.
  • Approximately 80% of all bathroom injuries were caused by falls, with the highest injury rates in the oldest age groups. The most hazardous activities were bathing, showering, or getting out of the tub or shower.

55+ TLC’s Role

First and foremost, we listened to what Sue wanted. We meshed that with ADA-code and safety features to create a functional, permittable and buildable floor and electrical plan. We diligently and discerningly selected and provided the materials, fixtures and hardware that a true Aging in Place bathroom needs. We do it transparently and beautifully. All along the way, we visually and verbally communicated the design and incorporated Sue’s feedback to ensure she got the master bathroom she dreamed of.

An Award-Winning Aging in Place Master Bathroom

Sue has a beautiful, Victorian-inspired Aging-in-Place master bathroom designed to enjoy now and through her active adult years. Her new master bathroom received the 2018 Homes for Life – Bathroom national award from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers. The award recognizes Aging in Place remodel design excellence.

Return on Investment

While Sue knew she would enjoy her beautiful new master bathroom, she had no idea that just a few months after it was completed, she would need it.

Sue sprained her hip and immediately needed an ADA-compliant bathroom. The good news is that she had one ready to accommodate her needs! First, she needed to use a wheelchair, then a walker, and now she no longer needs a mobility device. The in-home physical and occupational therapists helping to rehabilitate her were impressed by the design, safety and beauty of her Aging in Place master bathroom as well.

Had Sue not had her ADA bathroom, she wouldn’t have been able to stay in her home while she recovered, which would have been inconvenient and costly.

Plus, should Sue ever decide to sell and move, she will find that her Aging in Place master bathroom will have increased the home’s value. Contrary to most home modifications for aging, which are ugly, institutional looking, and need to be removed before the home can go on the market.

The goal of 55+ TLC is to help as many people that want to stay in their homes do so safely and beautifully, and to keep those that plan for senior community living, live safely in their home until they’re ready to make the move. We also strive to increase the value and salability to sell and move faster.

Has your home been designed for Aging in Place? 99% of U.S. homes have not, according to a 2017 Harvard Housing Study. Don’t wait until it’s too late! We’d love to help you.