Better baths for safer seniors

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

Being a long-term planner, I can’t help but think of the inevitable changes my parents will go through when they cross the line from young to not-so-young. They are both still vibrant, but it never hurts to plan ahead. Try as I might to get them to make large changes, I realize that smaller steps might yield better results, bonus points if the changes are not blaringly geared toward aging.

I consulted with Charlie Beeck, the president of Tropical Plumbing and Bath. Beeck’s reputation precedes him. Recognized by the Building Industry Association (BIA) as Remodeler of the Year, he has become widely known as the pioneer of walk-in bathtubs in Hawaii. His company specializes in designing and remodeling bathrooms for multigenerational living and aging in place.

Its most popular installation is walk-in showers. Keep in mind that although they fit the bill for aging-in-place, installing one is not synonymous with growing older. Homeowners install walk-in showers and tubs today for many reasons besides aging.

“Bathrooms in single-family homes and condos are

now being transformed into comfortable, stylish and safe environments,” Beeck said. “Walk-in tubs and showers have modern features like dual-drain technology, stainless-steel frames, hydrotherapy jets, air massage and more.”

Walk-in showers and tubs are easily adaptable for aging-friendly features like barrier-free entries, grab bars, seats and easy-turn faucets. Once you have made the decision to add one of your own, Beeck recommends starting with one key aspect.

“Choose an experienced, licensed contractor,” he said. “One who can provide examples of similar projects they have completed and even supply testimonials.”

Your contractor should ideally be able to handle not just installation, but also design, plumbing and service work. During the renovation itself, make sure your contractor has a plan for handling the debris. They should also provide assistance with selections and budgeting.