Safety is the big concern with every aging-in-place bathroom renovation. What many aging-in-place DIYers don’t realize, however, is that once the renovation is complete, the work to keep the bathroom safe is far from over – and the battle against bathroom clutter begins.
Bathroom Clutter Creates Major Safety Issues for Older Adults
Cluttered bathrooms and adults with mobility or balance issues don’t mix. If your parent’s bathroom counter is covered with toiletries and towels, and walking from the door to the shower is like traversing through a maze, you have a major decluttering project on your hands. The good news, though, is that clutter is a relatively easy job to tackle.
Keep things simple and follow the golden rule of decluttering – ‘keep it, throw it or donate it.’ Every item you dig through will fall into one of these categories. In the aging-in-place bathroom, less is always more…and always safer.
Keep only what your parent needs. Once you’re left with just the essentials, find a home for each item so your newly decluttered bathroom stays that way.
The Basics of Decluttering Your Aging-in-Place Bathroom
When I’m helping my aging-in-place clients improve the safety of their bathroom, I stick by my four basic decluttering rules. Let’s dive into each rule along with some of the best products I’ve found to keep aging-in-place bathrooms clutter-free.
Rule #1: Keep the Sink and Counter Clear
When the bathroom counter is cluttered with everything from toothpaste to medication, sooner or later those essentials are going to find themselves on the floor. Bending over, especially to pick small items, can easily lead to a fall. The solution? Clear the counter and get rid of what your parent doesn’t need. Then create a secure place for everything else. Here are a few smart products to add to your aging-in-place bathroom to remove countertop clutter.
This simple wall-mounted toothbrush and toothpaste holder keeps your toothbrush off of the counter…and the floor.
The hairdryer and curling iron take up a lot of space whether they’re on the counter or under the sink. A wall-mounted basket organizer made just to hold both tools is a smart way to give both bulky items a place of their own.
Behind the bathroom mirror is oftentimes a cluttered and over-stuffed medicine cabinet. It’s hard to find what you need when the cabinet is packed with empty medicine bottles and old toiletries that will never be used again. These clear organizers keep the important items in the cabinet from becoming cluttered. You can clearly see what’s inside and, just as important, what should be tossed.
Rule #2: Have Dedicated Places for Towels
When you declutter the bathroom, use it as an opportunity to get rid of bath and hand towels that have seen better days. For those that remain, store them in an easy-to-access towel rack or linen closet. Also, have a clothing hamper in the bathroom for used towels. Follow this simple rule and you’ll reduce the risk of towels cluttering up the counter or being left on the floor – an obvious trip hazard.
This towel rack gives your parent space for three towels. I like this one because it takes up minimal space. Anytime you can utilize the space behind a door is smart in my book. This one also includes two additional hooks at the bottom which work well for hanging bathrobes or extra hand towels.
If you’re working with a small bathroom or if you don’t have a linen closet nearby, this tiered wall-mounted towel holder puts up to six towels within arms-reach. It stores towels neatly so bathroom clutter doesn’t stand a chance.
If towel racks and wall organizers just won’t cut it, consider a cupboard to hold all of your towels plus any toiletries and other essentials. Sometimes the biggest culprit of clutter is simply a lack of storage…problem solved when you add a serious storage unit to hold everything you need.
Storing clean towels is only half of the job when you’re getting rid of clutter in the aging-in-place bathroom. A hamper for used towels keeps the floor towel-free. Make sure you choose one with a liner, like this one. Otherwise, you may solve one aging-in-place safety concern only to invite another one. Without a liner, your parent will end up reaching to the bottom of the hamper to fish out towels which can lead to a fall. A liner lets them get the towels out easily and safely.
Rule #3: Keep Shower Supplies to a Minimum
The aging-in-place shower should always get some extra special attention during a safety upgrade. And, decluttering the shower is especially important. The more bottles of shampoo and soap that line the shower walls, the better the odds those bottles will end up on the floor – and the greater the risk your parent could slip and fall.
Keep shower supplies to a minimum, throw out what you don’t need, and invest in shower accessories that keep necessary supplies from falling onto the shower floor.
A wall-mounted dispenser for soap and shampoo is such a smart way to get rid of bottles in the shower. What I also like about dispensers is that most of the time the buttons are less painful for sore hands than opening the lids on shampoo bottles.
A few suction cubs and a sturdy rust-proof metal shelf and you have an easy way to keep your parent’s shower supplies from creating more clutter. This particular shelf only has room for essentials, which helps keep the shower clutter-free.
As adults age, shower seats can offer a much safer way to shower, especially when balance or mobility becomes an issue. The only challenge, though, is the temptation to keep supplies laying on the shower floor nearby. This shower caddy stand is a great solution for keeping shampoos and soaps organized and off the floor.
Rule #4: Less is More When it Comes to the Bathroom Floor
Tripping hazards are right up there with slipping hazards when you look at the most common causes of accidents in the aging-in-place bathroom. Remove everything on the bathroom floor that doesn’t need to be there.
Getting your bathroom floor completely bare isn’t very practical, though. And, some accessories like non-slip floor mats make the bathroom safer. Here are some products you can add on and around the bathroom floor to keep it as safe as possible.
It does not get thinner than this ultra-thin rug and runner set. To embrace a less-is-more approach for your aging-in-place bathroom, place these rugs in front of areas prone to getting wet – most often in front of the sink and shower.
You can easily eliminate your bathroom trash can from your floor space by adding a sliding pull-out to a base cabinet underneath the bathroom sink. A simple pull-out system lets the trash can container come to you so it’s easy to reach and never clutters the floor again.
Take Care of Aging-in-Place Bathroom Clutter Right Away
Clutter in the bathroom should be addressed right away so you know your parent is safe at home. Follow these four basic bathroom decluttering rules to get bathroom essentials out of the way and stored where they belong.
Decluttering sounds like a small task on your overall aging-in-place renovation checklist. But remember that clutter is a big safety risk and should get as much attention as most other projects.
If you have questions as you start decluttering the bathroom, use the comments section below. I’m here to help you create the safest aging-in-place bathroom for your parent.
Good luck with your next aging-in-place home project!