The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which was passed in 1990 and amended in 2009, lays out various protections for people with disabilities. These regulations don’t apply to private homes, but they can be a good guide for planning a barrier free residence.
And in the case of bathrooms in particular, because the act dictates that public spaces must provide accessible options for people with disabilities, there are many bathroom fixtures available that are designed to be ADA compliant, such as handicap showers.
A unit like the American Mobility Shower is completely wheelchair accessible. One of the factors for ADA compliance is a minimum size for a shower stall, in order for a wheelchair to fit comfortably. The American Mobility Shower covers those requirements, as well as including other accessories like handles and a folding seat.
If you’re more concerned about making your existing shower safer for seniors or other people who may have some mobility issues, but are not strictly considered disabled, you might be able to retro-fit an existing shower with new safety equipment.
The Safe-er-Grip Bath & Shower Handle can be added to any shower, providing more safety for the elderly.
You can also add seats to an existing shower, either with a removable unit like the Essential Medical Supply Molded Shower Bench or a fixed unit such as the Bobrick B-5181 Reversible Folding Shower Seat.
The Essential bench can be moved in and out of the shower stall as needed, while the Bobrick folding seat needs to be mounted to the wall and is a permanent addition. If you opt for the folding seat, you will need to ensure that there is sufficient strength in the wall to mount it, particularly in the case of a one-piece shower stall.
If you are installing an ADA compliant shower stall, either during a renovation or as part of a new bathroom project, you can choose a one-piece molded stall or a multi-piece stall. The best choice will depend on the space that you have to work with and where you’re installing the stall.
The Kohler Freewill series are one-piece stalls that include a number of sizes and designs, with different accessories depending on your needs.
The Orca Health Care Handicap Showers offer both single- and multi-piece models.
Many handicap showers are designed strictly as a shower stall – no bathtub option is available. But if you’re looking for something that gives you the option of choosing a shower or a bath, there are models that do both.
These combination models are not wheelchair accessible, due to the smaller size of the bathtub component, but for people with limited mobility they can be ideal.
Whether you’re looking for something to make your own life easier, or you’re looking for something to help an aging family member stay independent, there are lots of options available to you. And most of them can be retro-fitted into an existing bathroom, allowing you to continue to enjoy your home as you get older.