All showers are not the same, and just like vehicles, different ones serve completely different purposes. So what is an ADA shower? One particular type of shower is designed and built for our elderly, disabled and handicapped individuals. These are known as ADA Showers. People with Parkinson's disease, Dementia, feebleness, and even children with Multiple Sclerosis greatly benefit from ADA Showers due to its ease of use and easier entry than bathtubs or high threshold showers.
Lets take a look at the different types of ADA Showers, their benefits and what makes an ADA Shower.
4 DIFFERENT TYPES OF ADA SHOWERS
1. LOW THRESHOLD
Low Threshold showers are a perfect solution for elderly or people that have little to no muscle retention. They make it easier for entry and exiting the shower. Thresholds or "curbs" are used to separate the water in the shower from the outside flooring to decrease leaks or damage. Lowering that threshold makes it much easier for someone with weaker muscles to get in and out of the shower, decreasing the fall risk.
2. CURBLESS SHOWERS
Curbless showers aka "Roll In Showers" are a beautiful option that is not only highly functional as an ADA Shower, but are very appealing to the eye as well. They do not have a threshold or "curb" to step over so the safety aspect is parallel to none. Curbless showers are typically more expensive than any other shower type because the floor has to be recessed to accommodate height. To make the shower floor and the bathroom floor on the same plane, extra carpentry is usually needed as well as additional waterproofing, resulting in a higher priced shower build.
3. TRANSFER SHOWERS
Transfer Showers are a perfect solution for individuals in wheelchairs or walkers. They are designed and built to help an individual transfer from one seat to another inside of the shower. Typically the seat inside of the shower is made of teak wood or a plastic that is strong enough to hold the weight of a person up to 350 pounds. The seat can also be built into the shower in a triangular or rectangular shape.
Transfer showers are lighter on the pockets than curbless showers because there is not as much prep work that has to be done, and depending on size some can even be around the $5,000 range.
4. BARRIER FREE SHOWERS
Barrier free showers are becoming more and more popular as newer waterproofing technology opens up more possibilities, they have a clean and sleek design, and the absence of glass helps to cut down the cost of installation.
Barrier free quite literally means that there is no barrier built into the shower such as glass , shower curtains or a wall to impede the entry into the shower. They are great for wheelchair users or anyone who just enjoys the open airness. The only downside is that there is nothing to keep the heat of the shower in the actual shower resulting in uncomfort for some.
BENEFITS OF AN ADA SHOWER
Showering may seem like a day to day easy task for most, but for some people showering is a daunting part of their day. Falls, Slips, and injury are a major concern for elderly and handicap individuals getting in and out of the shower. An ADA shower helps decrease the chances of injury with different safety components added with Grab Bars, Seats, Hand Wands, Low or no threshold, and non-slip floors among a few of those components.
2. INCREASED INDEPENDANCE
If you've ever worked in a nursing home, you've realized that a persons independence is very important to them, especially going into the golden years as independence becomes decreasingly available. An ADA Shower helps retain some of that independence with ergonomic components that help with balance, tiredness, lack of feeling in the feet, and reach.
3. EASIER ACCESS
Bathtubs can seem like Everest to someone with weaker muscles and balance issues. In fact, according cdc.gov the highest rates were for injuries that occurred in or around the tub or shower (65.8 per 100,000) and injuries that happened on or near the toilet (22.5 per 100,000). Injury rates increased with age, especially those that occurred on or near the toilet, which increased from 4.1 per 100,000 among persons aged 15--24 years to 266.6 among persons aged ≥85 years
4. ADDED FEATURES
Just like vehicles can have extras added for each individual user, so can showers. Adding grab bars, low or no threshold, seating, and non slip floors are all components of an ADA Compliant shower and they all help to decrease the risk of an injury. Additionally, with tile showers you can customize as much as you want with thousands of different types of tiles to choose from, 20-30 different grout choices, trim colors, seat shapes, and many glass options. All of these come together to create a shower that is still ADA compliant, but doesn't have to look like a hospital shower.
THE COMPONENTS OF AN ADA SHOWER
1. GRAB BARS
Grab bars are an essential part of building an ADA compliant shower. They also help with balance, and getting to and from a seat. Grab bars can typically be added to any shower but to retain ADA compliance the grab bar(s) shall be mounted 33-36 inches (840-915 mm) above the shower floor measured at the entry.
The ADA shower seat height requirements state that the top of the shower seat shall be 17 inches minimum and 19 inches maximum above the bathroom finish floor. With many different options ranging from rectangular seats to triangular corner seats, floating benches, mounted folding seats and even. plastic seating typically purchased from a medical supply store.
3. NON-SLIP FLOORS
Non-Slip floors are exactly like they sound. Any tile or material that is polished or "slick" would not be considered non-slip. Many patients with diabetes, pinched nerves and MS may have increased sensitivity to flooring, so picking out the right tile or surface is very important and should be considered before purchasing.
4. LOW OR CURBLESS THRESHOLD
Low or curbless thresholds are a newly popular item for all homeowners because of their simple and sleek design, but they are an amazing feature in an ADA shower. Not having an obstacle to step over makes entry to a shower much safer and much easier resulting in less falls and fatalities while increasing safety. Curb-less showers are typically more expensive than normal shower because of the extra work that must be done to accept the plane of the floor, but the piece of mind is well worth the sticker price.
Handwands and bench seats go hand in hand when it comes to ADA showers. Hand wands are very helpful with the showering process for elderly and handicap individuals because they eliminate the need to stand while showering. They also help us reach the nooks and crannies of the body that may be harder to access in patients and those with medical needs. Cleaning your shower with a hand wand becomes a breeze since you are able to wash down the entire shower very quickly and easily. Hand wands can either be mounted to the wall adjacent of the shower head or they can be built into the shower head itself.
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