Bathroom & Bedroom Disability Modifications

I am a master electrician and plumber, and have given some thought to what can be done and what's available commercially to make the bed and bath work when you're temporarily or permanently disabled. 
I've had both my knees done, have gone through the recovery (and have directly experienced what's needed) and now, alas, have had the lower right knee to tibia joint fail and have to have that knee 'revised' the medical term (doc said the joints he put in fail 1.5% of the would you fly a plane that fell out of the sky 1.5% of the time?). So I've made more accommodations for this.  Untile you're recovering from surgey or otherwise disabled, this will all seem like foolishness.  Just wait. Time will come when you need every help you can get to retain some feeling of ability and control.

This shows you what I know is available and have done in my home


Perhaps the most important thing in a bedroom is not falling, which means grab bars, grab bars that are firmly mounted.  I loathe flimsy towel rack mounted to sheet rock which tear out and mess up the sheet rock (besides maybe dumping you on the floor).  Usually you try to tie the grab bar to a stud to solidly mount it....but that rarely works out.  Avoid suction cup grab bars; they may be a good travel expedient but they are not trustworthy...they will pop off without any warning and dump you.  Since it will rarely be that studs will happen to be right, there are two other grab bar mounting alternatives
Once you get the hang of mounting them, I'd suggest that you think about replacing your towel bars with grab bars.  They look fine that way and disguise the fact that you have grab bars everywhere.  Remember: you only have to need them once and you'll thank God you're not on the floor with a broken hip. Think about getting them with a roughed up or peened surface which makes your grip more secure.  You'll see in the picture here that I have put grey 3M 370 safety-walk non-slip tape  available from Amazon and Ebay on some of my grab bars with a slippery glossy finish.  Besides, with a smooth finish, towels will slip off unless they're centered.

Grab bars themselves

Moen has a nice comprehensive (some 226) line, you can see them here, then find them competively priced in HD, Lowe's and the full range from Amazon.

There are some specialty grab bars that I want to particularly point out.

Toilet Grab bars

Help getting on and off the can, two grab bars.
Here's the two of them together.  One the left the swing down bar is down, on the right, it's swung up, double click to see full size. Note the wireless remote control for the bidet seat atop the toilet tank, more on that here

The swing down toilet grab bar doesn't have a mounting plate that would work with the Secure Mount Anchors, so I tied a piece of 3/4" plywood to the wall behind the toilet and bolted it to that.  The lag bolts nearest the door tie into the stud by the door, but the rest of the mounting plate is screwed to the plywood. This is the one mod I did that required relative ugliness to mount it..

Shower & Tub Grab bars

Moen has a really nice wrap around (the corner of the shower/tub surround) grab bar that ties to the wall in three places.  It comes in three sizes (what changes is mostly the length of the long side)  and only in SS finish.  Mine tub and shower surround with it looks like this:

When I installed it, I only knew of the smallest one, the 8992.  If I was doing it again, I'd get the biggest one, the 8996, which would run the full length of the tub surround. Check the dimensions will work in your surround before you order it.  It's tough to install:
  • You need someone to hold it against the wall and not let it shift while you precisely mark where the anchor holes will be. Three people would be even better:one standing outside the tub at the front holding that end firmly, another at the back also outside and then the third person drawing a circle around the mounting flange with a Sharpie.
  • The middle securely point is tough because the dress flange allows very little room to get in to tighten the screws that hold it to the anchor.  I had to use a short screwdriver bit gripped by a pair of Vise-Grips

The other end of my tube surround looks like this:

  •  that if you have sliding glass door in a tub, you will have to remove them (they lift out with some difficulty due to their weight and put them somewhere else.  You will need the full width of the opening to get in and out of the surround and lift your leg over the tub side.
  • You will want grab bars immediately outside the tub to help you with the tricky business of getting out of the tub surround. Have them at both end of the tub.

Telephone shower

You want one that slides up and down on a track...and you'll need to have it permanently plumbed in or connected to the shower head with a diverter.  Another possibility: I replaced the telephone shower head with a bidet spray head, which looks like a kitchen sink sprayer (but has the threads for tehephone shower hose) and does a dandy job of blowing the shaving crud out of my multiple-blade Gillette razor.

The Toilet

...should be an elevated one.  If you are anything over 5'9", you will find the height of regular toilets, ridiculously low (they have to work of kids, remember) and hard to get down to or up from if you've any kind of disability or limitations.  I had an lovely old American Standard Luxor toilet that looked like a piece of 1950's modern art, flushed better than anything I've ever had and was designed so that it could not overflow (tank was at the same height as the bowl) and was very quiet.  But it was too damn low.  Any plumbing supply store/Lowe's/Home Depot have elevated height toilet, 17" to 19" high.  Try them.  If it isn't enough, you can special order even taller ones or build in a platform

Bidet Toilet Seat

Ha-ha. Bidets are silly French bathroom weirdness. No. Bidets mean you get really clean (when did you ever get your hands clean by just rubbing paper towel over them?) and you don't have to dance on the can to get to yourself with the toilet paper.  And then, at least for guys, you never use toilet paper again, and your hands don't get dirty.  Finally, if you have IBS or colitis of C. Diff. or the like, your bottom will thank you.  You can see a bidet toilet seat in the picture of the swing-down toilet grab bar.  I've had mine for 5-6 years and greatly appreciate it.
Brondell has an excellent line of them; you can usually get one for around $300 on sale or an open-box.  Installation involves three steps:
The seat has a wireless remote control...jet selection for girls and boys, water temperature control, warm air toasting your bottom and like that.  In the picure above of the swing-down toilet gragb bar, you can see the remote control on the toilent tank top next to the answering machine


I put together my master bed in the early '70's when I found a 6' diameter round mahogany table with leaves, damaged and cast off at an antique store.  The half that wasn't damaged I made the headboard, the rest of it I cut up to make a dresser attached to the back of the headboard.  A king-sized bed in our room takes up too much room for bedside table, so I have stuff on the headboard.  Present and useful are:
Double click to see it enlarged with the annotations readable.

The trapeze itself is just rope and a 16" piece of 1" plastic electrical conduit.  It's tied to the ceiling with a piece of strut channel (look up at the ceiling in any big box store and you'll see it used in all kinds of ways for all purposes).  You can buy it at Lowes or HD...I got a 2' length of half depth channel, with one 1/4-20 spring nut, an eye bolt and two lag screws and fender washers to bolt it to the joists. Total cost about $15. 


The Kleenex box is mounted to a couple of flanges that slip inside cuts in the back of a Kleenex box...the box ix then held in by some velcro