My project for today is to create architectural plans for a client of mine. Her father moved into her home and she now wants to remodel her hall bathroom to make it handicap accessible (even though he is not currently handicapped). Per her direction, my plans will be focused on removing the tub to create a wet room and some minor changes to update the bathroom aesthetically. I will also add grab bars to the plans and widen the door to the bathroom to 36" wide to accommodate a wheelchair. She is one of my smarter clients who wants to make changes now before they are necessary.
I previously wrote about remodeling a bathroom to make it more accessible. My main concern is not the renovation that people do, but that people are remodeling too late or not at all. Thinking about getting old or disabled is not something that we like to consider, but we should. If you plan on living in your home as long as possible and avoiding going into a nursing home or assisted care facility, you should consider making your home more accessible long before you need it. Without any health problems, I would suggest around the age of 65. Most people who are 65 have enough time and energy to go through a home remodel or consider moving to a more accessible home. If your bedroom and bathroom are on the second floor of your home, then you may not be able to get to that room if you break your leg (which could happen at any age), develop a bad knee, or a multitude of other situations. Consider how you will get in and out of your home, how you will move around your home, and how you will cook, bathe, do laundry, and all of your other daily activities if you a limited physically.
If you are age 50 and doing any home remodel, you should consider making your home pre-accessible. For a bathroom, you can add blocking behind the walls to accommodate future grab bars, make sure that your shower has a flush threshold that is not a trip hazard and you can roll a wheelchair into, and widen your door to accommodate a wheelchair or walker. Making a home more accessible sooner than later is almost always a good decision since you never know what the future may hold.