Bathtime Fun for Oldies? Yes!

Everyone loves a hot bath

That gorgeous slow sinking, the silky water, the scent of luscious bath salts…….

Like me, you probably began the love affair with baths when you were two and had a rubber duck. I am very glad to be able to assure you that at eighty it is still a delight.   Except that by then you will have added a gin and tonic, candles, a pillow, maybe  underwater lights,  power jets and a partner with a lovely big natural sponge who can help you find the soap.  Or perhaps just a good book and soft music?

The delight of lying buried in foam is hard to beat. Aches and worries slide away as a gentle soporific haze of steam drifts around……..
 It must be good for you. The Romans certainly thought so. It was an essential part of the good life of all citizens. A human right even? And certainly when you have been out walking.


Recently we stayed in a charming old coaching inn in the heart of the Lake District, log fires, beams, good food: dream kind of place you love to reach at the end of a tough day.

We did a few miles among hills and stunning scenery and then back to collapse. Off with the boots, on with the taps, in with the  bath gel and grabbing a large mug of tea…a bit early for the gin..head for the scented steam.

Look at this, a modern bath, central taps, double ended comfort for two. Isnt it just gorgeous?


The first problem dawns.

Put down mug and consider mode of entry.  Not being too good balancing on one foot, there will be a need to grab edge of bath….Humm,rounded and looking suspiciously slippery.  However, can manage leg over. Ah, discover That standing with bent knees on slippery base will need two hands. Grab the other side. Rather a reach …. Courage and it is done, now half standing in bath.  Feet think it feels lovely.

Attempt to lower oneself to sitting. Hands on shiny edges again, take weight, hope they don’t slide. Try to persuade knees to bend slowly.  Now that is something you don’t have to think about when you are young. Just do it. Where’s the probem?

This is the problem . At eighty Knees develop rules of their own. Taking orders to let go slowly, descend a smooth bit at a time is no longer in their rule book. It’s more  of  an all or nothing scenario.  Result major embarrassing tidal wave Partner has to mop up.

However safely in and luxury reigns.  Except that the mug is on the sink and these round edges are hopeless for mug or gin balance.   Can we be the only ones who like a drink at bathtub time!

Then the second problem dawns.  How on earth am I going to get out?              Can’t do push ups from that position. Cant do them anyway. Would it be OK to pull on a tap like that? Can I roll over? Too narrow. Partner tries to haul me up. Feet get part way under then slide…another tidal wave.

After 15 mins it looked as if calling the hotel porter was going to be it. However, will power won and we made it. Collapsed on the bed in glorious peals of laughter. Definitely gin time now.

But why are today’s Baths not Age Friendly? Is someone loosing a growing market here?

Friend after friend is telling me that they are having their bath taken out.  They will miss it dreadfully, but it is just not safe. and they certainly dont want one of those awful blow up things or something with a weird gate.  Just an elegant  bath they can get in and out of, and safely.

A significant proportion  of the adult population soon be over 60. They will have much of the Nations wealth and they are not old frumps.  They like elegance and modern design.

Of course it is possible to design a gorgeous Age Friendly bath.  It could be a fun one too, even a place for the gin…

Bathtime fun should be for everyone, and everywhere!


I would love to hear from some young designers with ideas for this new market.  Are you out there?











  1. Peter Moss
    September 16, 2016 / 8:57 am

    Great essay, and I fully agree about the need for safer design to cope with the needs of an increasingly aging population. However, bathing has never seemed more truly sensational for me that at the traditional onsens of Japan. They don’t particularly take safety into consideration, and you’re liable to be scalded if, as a novice, you recklessly plunge into the hottest without preliminary acclimatisation, But once you’re in, and you’ve adjusted, you never want to emerge.

  2. October 1, 2016 / 5:27 pm

    There are more things we lose than we can ever understand, or anticipate. Growing older should come with rewards, not punishments.

    Thank you

  3. October 2, 2016 / 6:30 am

    I so agree with you on this. So many hotels and self-catering cottages have badly designed bathrooms. The worst we encountered was 5 years ago in a sweet little cottage in Suffolk. The bathroom had apparently according to the blurb been recently refurbished. Oh bliss – err no. A very tiny bathroom with loo had an amazing looking enormous free-standing high rolled-edge bath. Before I get on to that over said bath was a fixed shower head. Now look here, just think. A woman does not want a fixed shower head. Saying no more, just think. Ok, I’m a fit and quite tall 70 year-old so was then an even fitter 65. But the bath was so high I had to stand on tip toe, perch on the side and swing into it to get in said bath – unbelievably bad design. When I complained in the ubiquitous end-of-stay survey the company said, but he’s just redesigned the bathroom.’ As you might guess that got another response from me!

    • October 20, 2016 / 7:32 am

      So good to get this! These baths and fixed showers have become a fashion plague and so unwittingly ageist in their design.

      We really do need a campaign. Let’s go for it!

      • November 27, 2016 / 10:11 am

        Yes, it does need a campaign but gosh have I the energy! Mind you, I think you do – I just love your blogs and the thing is you really can write. We need to write a book about ageing from the point of view of the older person, I think!!! Anyway, there is a lot of work going on, I believe on exactly what you’ve written about – bathrooms that are suitable for all of any age, and indeed, any kind of room. I went to a Gerontology conference a couple of years ago and there was a talk about it – think it was a college in Hong Kong (not sure) that was working on the accessibility and the hospitality industry. Have you heard of the Helen Hamlyn? There’s a foundation And I know a lot of their work is about older people and design. Or it used to be – that link seems to make it a bit wider than I thought it was. While they were alive I’m sure most of the projects were around older people.

        See also

        My thing is prevention. I used to be a nurse and then went into social policy/research/evaluation of older people etc etc. And this current crisis on social care and the NHS not coping is all about underfunding and ‘fire-fighting’ the crisis. Personally I think i) Money needs to be spent big time on prevention and ii) older people need to take some responsibility for their ageing. Feel quite strongly about that. I can feel another rant/blog post on frugalfashionshopper is needed! Or maybe on My Other Blog which is strongly political. Will stop now. Have a good Sunday!

    • November 21, 2016 / 2:39 am

      So good to hear someone confirming exactly what is going on. This unthinking ageism in the latest bathroom styles is nonsense!
      How can we get my blog and your confirming comment spread much wider?
      Suspect a significant no. Of older people will agree. We do need a campaign!

      I am new to all this, so would welcome any help/advice.



    • October 20, 2016 / 7:34 am

      Yes we must. It has got beyond a joke. Unwitting ageism in the design of anything needs a campaign. You are right. Let’s do it.

  4. November 20, 2016 / 4:30 pm

    I’m afraid that at 65 I can already no longer sit in the bath – any bath. Something to do with my knees, tendons probably. I can’t stand up after sitting down on or in anything lower than a chair-seat, so I have to alternate standing (we have a shower attachment as part of the bath taps thing) with sitting on the bath’s edge. I slipped in the bath some weeks back – trying to reach the soap that had zoomed onto the floor – and at the time was standing on the so-called ‘non-slip’ raised bits of the bath. Just grabbed the side of the bath in time. So I am now doubly careful.

    But most hotels’ and other places baths could do with handles set into their walls and sides. And how about non-slip mats (for inside the bath) that aren’t like standing on beach pebbles?

  5. November 21, 2016 / 2:52 am

    You are so right! Everything you say is confirming what my blog is about!
    How do we get this message to,the wider world? I would love to find a way of putting your comment and my blog out there.
    I am new to all this and don’t really know how. Any help would be welcome.



    • November 23, 2016 / 1:36 pm

      It’s more a problem of trying to get the right people to see what we say, Joyce. The ‘general public’ are not the people who install the facilities we need! 🙂 So, maybe start by contacting the hotels and other places you’ve stayed at that have not figured us ‘oldies’ into their environments.
      As for getting a wider readership, that takes time and it is much better (more ‘organic’) to do it internally than to expect everything to appear in the big search engines like Google. It doesn’t happen immediately and part of the trick on this site is to visit as many of your commenters blogs as possible, and commenting on any and all of the posts you like and also to find other blogs and types of blogs you’re interested in (not just ones about ageism, and personal not commercial blogs) and comment in them, too. Blogging is more about community than about simply about writing and publishing posts. Try to think of blogging as another form of socializing then you’ll head towards a higher readership who care what you’re writing about and who might join in and help do something.
      For a way to find other blogs have a look at this:

      I’m working (though it’s gonna take time) on creating a separate, new, blog with some technical help for new bloggers. When it’s ready, I’ll let you know and you can follow it and maybe it’ll help you a bit more than I can in a comment. 🙂

    • May 23, 2017 / 6:47 pm

      Yes. We are thinking of putting a preservation order on it! Must be 50 yrs old….due to make a comeback?

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