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We have a unique situation here in Maine. Not only do we boast of being the “oldest” state in the nation demographically but we also have some of the oldest housing stock and most of it is RURAL! The question being asked is how do we create a safe and accessible living environment for our seniors and those with mobility issues out of old often unsafe homes that are mostly in rural areas?
The answer is as complex as the question. Aging in place, sometimes referred to as Design for Independent Living, referrers to remodeling or renovating a home, primarily the bathroom, to become a safe and familiar environment where one can be independent and comfortable regardless of age or mobility level and not have to be moved to an assisted living facility as one ages.
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans and most falls occur in the bathroom. Falling is not an inevitable result of aging and the risk for bathroom falls can be substantially reduced by making accessibility modifications.

A recent article published in Consumer Reports* states that the average bathroom safety and accessibility remodel project can cost less than 2 months of assisted living care. Because the bathroom is the number one obstacle to the safe living at home, the importance of planning and incorporating safety modifications during a routine bathroom update or remodel cannot be overly emphasized.

In actuality, spending $5,000 – $7,000 on bathroom modifications will SAVE money, not cost money.
The most compelling information supporting this growing concept commonly known as Aging in Place is that these home safety modifications rarely cost more than the equivalent of just four to six weeks in an assisted living facility. And, accessibility modifications, properly done, may very well add to the resale value of a residence.

The most common modifications are done in the bathroom. A bath tub is as difficult to get in and out of at 5 years
of age as it is at 75 years of age. Removing that tub and replacing it with a low threshold shower will have the greatest impact on bathroom safety. Strategically placed grab rails are a must and there is no “typical” location
for them. Each individual should be actively involved in determining where grab rails are placed based on how they use the shower, their height and strength. Resist the urge to install shower doors. A heavy duty curtain with
a weighted hem will keep water in the shower and not prevent a care giver from offering assistance if needed. Choose a stylish pedestal sink or a counter-top instead of a vanity with cabinet below. Not only will the room feel larger, it will enable you to get closer to the sink with a cane, assistive walking device or chair.
Is your aging mother, father, aunt or grand father having trouble navigating the bathroom? Are you worried about getting a phone call that your mother has fallen in the bathtub and broken a hip or worse, suffered scalding burns? Does your father complain about the humiliation of needing to ask for help to get in and out of the tub?
As you gather with friends and family this coming Holiday Season, begin the discussion about the safety and accessibility of your aging loved ones’ bathroom. Begin to think about having a plan in place should the need suddenly arise for a safety modification. Contact the Certified Age-in-Place Specialists at Mid-Coast Energy Systems today for your no-cost safety evaluation and price quote.

Your family will be glad that you did.

Visit Our Website for more ideas..


Since the bathroom is the biggest obstacle to safely living at home as we age, it’s not only important to access your needs at present, but to also include the proper elements that will allow for accessibility issues that could arise for anyone in your family.  Many of the calls Mid-Coast energy Systems receives come in the midst of a medical emergency after someone has fallen, had surgery or suffered some other illness.  It’s often a shock to realize that returning to our own home or bathroom design is not be possible.  Obviously, renovating under these circumstances is very stressful and ill advised.

The best way to plan long term is to incorporate safety modifications during any routine bathroom update or remodel– long before there is a medical emergency. If you are not in a position for a major bathroom overhaul, know that even  simple updates can  make a world of difference.


Basic modifications you can do now-


  • Simple installation of carefully placed grab bars not only in bathrooms, but also in kitchens, walkways, stairways and bedrooms.


  • Laundry facilities can be relocated from the basement to first floor. Comfort Height toilets replace standard


  • Old bathtubs should be replaced with sectional shower units that include personal showers and seats.


  • Installation of entry ramps


  • Relocating light switches and outlets within easy reach


All new walk-in shower units may not accommodate a full size wheelchair however; a transfer seat allows the wheelchair bound person to slide on to the seat with minimum assistance. These new units will fit into the area of the old tub and can use the same bathtub drain plumbing, minimizing cost and installation time.


Sterling Bathroom AIP

The most compelling information to support the sensibility of an “Age in Place” safety modification is the fact that even a major bathroom modification (such as a new bathroom located on the first floor)  will rarely exceed the cost of one or two months in an assisted living facility.  Given our aging population, accessibility modifications properly done, may very well add to the resale value of a residence.

Until recent years, homeowners who developed health issues or balance problems often fell into the belief that they have lost control over their life and the only natural option is to enter a nursing home or an assisted living facility. The children of aging parents often feel the same frustration.

Today, there is a vast selection of sleek and stylish universal bathroom fixtures from which to choose.  Thanks to several years of consumer education surrounding the Age in Place concept, we now have an opportunity to make important decisions for ourselves, before there is illness or injury and someone else is forced to make them for us.

Author: Holly Haining – Zulieve is an independent marketing agent for Mid-Coast Energy Systems.

If you have questions regarding bathroom safety, please contact Gina Philippon at MCES

Email: gphilippon@midcoastenergysystems.com

Phone: 207-563-5147