What can we do to make a small bathroom more useful?

Dear AIPatHome,

My parents live in a 2-story house and now that they are older the stairs are a challenge and they are thinking of making the first floor their primary living space. The problem is the bathroom. It’s a small powder room with a very small shower area, barely large enough for toileting and bathing. Not in the least bit comfortable to use – for anything! Do you think it’s possible to make this a functional room that can meet my parents’ needs for ease of access and usability and keep them off the stairs?


Concerned Daughter

Dear Concerned Daughter,

The short answer is ‘yes’.  We asked Shoshana Shamberg, OTR/L, MS, President of Abilities OT Services and Seminars, Inc. what she thought. “Without knowing the specific details of the room I would suggest creating a shower room where there are no thresholds between the shower area and the rest of the bathroom with a tile floor graded for proper drainage. Install a pedestal sink, which is accessible with an open bottom, and levered faucet controls. A shower chair can be used and with a hand held showerhead – makes showering easier especially while seated. There should be enough wheelchair maneuverability between the toilet, sink and shower. Lastly, a pocket door will also help eliminate unnecessary barriers in a tight space.”

For more ideas see Shoshana’s “5 Common Bathroom Problems Limiting Safety and Comfort” and “5 More Problems Limiting Bathroom Safety and Comfort”.

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