Q: My bathroom is very small and there is no room for my husband to maneuver his walker when the door is opened into the room. Any suggestions?
A: There are a number of ways to deal with this problem. The first option is to reverse the swing of the door. It may be possible to change the swing out into the hall or the bedroom. This change will require a bit of handyman work and some paint, but could be a good option.
The most comprehensive solution may also be the most expensive and disruptive. A pocket door may be able to be installed at the entrance. This will give you the most room to maneuver both in the hall and in the bathroom. This will require purchasing a new door and reframing the outside wall of the bathroom. Make sure that the pocket door size you choose is wide enough for the walker or possible wheelchair in the future (30 inches).
A bypass door can also be used on the outside of the bathroom. This would have the same function as the pocket door, but will not require reframing the wall. The door will slide on the outside of the wall.
The most cost effective idea is to use a bi-fold door. This door will still be in the bath or hall area, but will only be half as large. This will require purchasing a new door and installing new hardware in the existing frame.
Additionally, there are smaller walkers available for seniors who live in smaller spaces. Although they do not have the weight capacity of a standard walker, it may be worth investigating if a smaller device is the most effective solution for your home. As a senior's health and physical needs change, an evaluation of their ability to safely age in place is crucial. A home evaluation will provide suggested modifications to retrofit or redesign areas within the home to remove physical barriers to mobility and incorporate assistive devices or durable medical equipment that promote independence.