10 Bathroom Design Ideas for the Elderly

Seattle has over 90,432 residents aged 65 or older[a], so building senior-friendly homes has become a priority in the Pacific Northwest city. Bathrooms require particular attention when designing dwellings for elderly occupants, as most falls and injuries occur in this high-use, high-moisture zone. Focusing on accessibility, safety, and comfort is key to creating bathrooms suitable for people with limited mobility and agility. When planning a bathroom remodel to accommodate seniors, keep practicality top of mind. Follow these ten design ideas that allow seniors to comfortably and safely use the facilities:

Use Non-Slip Flooring

Floors present one of the biggest fall risks in bathrooms. To enhance safety, it’s crucial to choose flooring options that minimize the chances of slipping. Select non-slip, textured surfaces like grouted ceramic tile or rubber mats to provide reliable traction, even when the floor is wet. Avoid glossy materials like polished stone because they can become slippery when exposed to moisture. Also, eliminate any transitions or uneven surfaces between floor types, as these can create tripping hazards. By selecting the right flooring type, you can greatly reduce the risk of accidents in the bathroom, both in wet and dry conditions.

Install Grab Bars and Handrails

To create a bathroom that’s both safe and senior-friendly, installing sturdy grab bars and handrails is paramount. These additions offer stability and support in critical areas of the bathroom, such as near toilets, showers, and tubs. It’s a wise idea to seek out contractors specializing in bathroom remodeling in Seattle. They can help you expertly install these safety features at the ideal height and ensure proper installation. By doing so, you not only enhance the functionality of your bathroom but also guarantee that it meets the highest safety standards.

Add an ADA-Compliant Toilet

When renovating a bathroom for a senior loved one, it’s essential to consider adding an ADA-compliant toilet. The toilet seat should be positioned at a comfortable height, ideally between 17 to 19 inches above the floor, which is 2 inches higher than a standard toilet. The extra height makes sitting down and standing up much easier for those with limited mobility. Grab bars can be added for further assistance. Lever flush valves are also a useful addition. Follow the ADA guidelines for toilets to ensure that the bathroom is not only functional but also safe and comfortable for seniors.

Install Fold-Down Shower Seat

Folding shower seats provide a safe place to sit and relax while bathing and tuck away neatly when not in use. Look for water-resistant wooden or plastic seats. Other materials, like metal, can become slippery and may increase the risk of falls and subsequent injuries. Mount it at a height that makes standing up from the seat manageable. These compact seats increase shower accessibility and allow our older loved ones to shower independently.

Use Lever-Style Faucets

Lever faucets are way easier than the standard knob-style faucets for aging hands and limited dexterity. Levers let you turn on and off the water with minimal grip strength or even one hand if needed. They accommodate limited mobility or arthritis pain. You can also replace the faucets in the kitchen and other areas of the house with lever-style to allow maximum accessibility.

Provide Adequate Task Lighting

Proper lighting ensures seniors can comfortably navigate and perform grooming tasks. Install lighting around mirrors for better visibility when washing up or applying makeup. You can also invest in night lights that automatically turn on near the bathroom doorway to prevent fall incidents at night. Make sure showers and tubs are also well-lit. Eliminate dark zones that increase fall risk or hinder daily routines so seniors can safely move around without assistance.

Install Temperature Regulating Valve

A water tempering valve automatically controls water to a set comfortable temperature. It prevents accidental scalding from water that is too hot yet still allows it to remain sufficiently warm. Look for an ADA-compliant anti-scald valve set to 120°F or install a thermostatic mixing valve. The right regulating valve provides comfort and safety.

Use Contrasting Colors

Use contrasting colors throughout the bathroom. For instance, a white toilet and tub will pop against a dark gray floor. It allows visually impaired users to better discern objects and reduces disorientation. However, avoid busy patterns. Contrast visual elements through complimentary colors.

Include Storage at Accessible Heights

Avoid low cabinets that require bending down. All storage should be reachable from a seated position. Shelving, medicine cabinets, and drawers should be at arm level to avoid bending down. Keep commonly used objects handy. Convenient storage improves accessibility.

Select Easy-Grip Cabinet Hardware

Upgrading small knobs or pulls to cabinet hardware that is more accessible and user-friendly can greatly enhance the bathroom’s functionality. Opt for offset D-shaped pulls, U-shaped handles, or handles sized 1.5 to 2 inches wide. These provide better leverage, making it easier for individuals with arthritic hands or limited dexterity to open and close cabinets effortlessly. Look for styles with curved edges, as they not only offer practicality but also add a touch of safety and ease of use to the bathroom’s overall design. Making these thoughtful hardware choices can significantly contribute to creating a senior-friendly bathroom space.


With some thoughtful design considerations that focus on user abilities and safety, you can transform a standard bathroom into a senior-friendly one. With the right modifications, the bathroom remains safe and accessible for elderly occupants. Simple upgrades like handrails and task lighting make bathrooms more accessible and secure for the elderly. Focusing on stability, accessibility, and ease allows seniors to confidently handle daily routines. We love our older loved ones and want to do right by them. The best way to do this is by making life easier for them. Start with remodeling their bathroom, and soon, you’ll notice a positive change in their demeanor and confidence.