“There Are Few Aging In Place Absolutes”

A bathroom door that opens into the floor space (very common) is a potential safety hazard because it reduces the effective usable area of the bathroom and becomes a barrier for someone falling against it or obstructing it.

Aging in place is fluid

Because aging in place involves people being in their homes and using them over time, it’s difficult to prescribe what each person should have in their space since there are many variables. We have different tastes in lifestyle, cuisine, music, TV programs, art, books, movies, clothing, sports teams, and so much more. Sometimes, we like some of the same things. Sometimes not.

Therefore, it’s not easy to suggest what people should have in the living space or what others should avoid unless it’s definitely a safety concern – and there are many of those. Flooring, lighting, abrupt corners, steps, difficult-to-reach shelves, and lack of lighting come quickly to mind.

A feature that needs to change

While we all have different needs and abilities and prefer many different things, there is a huge safety concern in the home that has been affecting people for years. It receives little attention, but this is one item where there needs to be a rule – not a law but something we all agree is necessary.

There is one feature in everyone’s home that should be considered as one of those few absolutes that we need to address. It’s the bathroom door.

In most cases, and especially in smaller floor plans, bathroom doors open into the room. This likely is a space-saving feature to keep the adjoining space (hallway or bedroom) as uncluttered as possible and to illustrate that the bathroom is unoccupied.

However, consider the implications.

Two major safety concerns

When the door opens into the bathroom space, a person could become trapped inside, and if they have fallen or collapsed, they could be lying on the floor against the door. This could keep the door from opening and hamper their rescue even if it is unlocked.

Opening the door outward would be an easy solution, but it could present other space utilization issues outside of the bathroom. The best answer is a sliding door that retracts and stores in the wall (pocket door) or a barn door that stores out of the way along the wall surface.

A similar safety concern is a shower door that only opens inward to the wet area or that opens outward into the front or side of the toilet to obstruct a passageway to the shower. This could prevent someone from easily moving from or to the shower area.

Notice that both of these major safety concerns occur in the bathroom.


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