Unthinking Ageism: Bathroom Design!


Growing older often means downsizing, a new home,   and a  new bathroom.  

Downsizing is the time when our possessions were never so dear as the day we have to take them to Oxfam. Attics, cupboards and box after box reveal beloved items, which cannot possibly be discarded. Our house proves to have become be the museum of our life! How can we throw out our life?

Whilst suffering these agonies we are totally distracted by trying to find another place called home.   Here it is, right size, right price, ready next year…

The modern elegant bathroom of the show flat looks super… So you accept it.

Don’t do it!    

Look at these pictures first.


The Bath:

This one is in a newly refurbished ground floor flat, perfect for Downsizers.  Very elegant, latest design, the best porcelain etc.   But wait.  Exactly how are you to get in? And, more of a problem, how do you get out?  Is that tap safe to pull on!    Stuck…..

Do they expect you to fix a hospital type grab rail to the tiles? Or to buy a blow up bath seat?. Yuck.

Have the designers thought at all?   

Make a fuss.
Insist on an elegant bath of course. But one with built in or subtle hand rails. One not too deep to climb into and out of, wide enough to turn over in if need be. Nothing worse than feeling like a beached whale. And certainly it needs a non slip bottom. Test the sides too. Wet hands slip on rounded edges. As I discovered…..

The Shower

You may well be offered one over the bath. But if is to be your only shower think twice. Stepping over a bathside is decidedly dodgy  ……See dreadful warning picture below. Perhaps a wet room makes sense when you think about it?

Whatever it will probably have the latest high powered rain shower, a large central disc. Fine, if they have thought where to put the controls. But typically you have to stand under it to reach them, alternately freezing and in danger of scalds. So easy to start sliding and falling as you try to get out from under

Dont let them get away with it!  Shower controls for olderpeople, whether in a wet room or over a bath, must be reachable from outside the water area.

And how about the controls? Are they clear enough to use without steamed up glasses. Look at this one! There are instructions there somewhere


Floors and shower trays.

Must be nonslip.  And I mean really non slip. Test them to see.

Look what happens when they are not!

No, no damage except to ego. But so scary! And not the usual selfie…But entirely the result of that ultimately dangerous combination:   Slippery floor tiles and a shower over a bath which itself is slippery. Which unfortunately or Unthinkingly is the common pattern, especially in hotels.

image Find floor tiles which have a strong texture. Like this.

Not like this shower base which is pretending to be nonslip.image

Look at the shine! Makes me shiver with apprehension……


They need a blog of their own.  Here is one you might enjoy.!

🎶Three Old Ladies Need Age Friendly Loos.

Essentially you need space, for a helper or a wheelchair.  Hope not, but it is sense to plan for that. You can’t create it later.  Wise too to have slightly higher seats and make sure there is something stable to pull up on…not the toilet roll.

But why should we have to make a fuss?

Why are bathroom designers, builders, developers and all those in the housing business not aware. The later years market is increasing. The number of people over 70 is growing. And so do the problems.

Over 70 and most people begin to loose balance, a slight unsteadiness, slower reflexes, not too obvious, but increasingly dodgy.

It makes sense. Design forward with this in mind.  Tell them!


  1. September 29, 2016 / 12:21 pm

    Excellent advice. Canadians are especially good at thinking ahead, and buying homes equipped with the safety features they will need in their old age.

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