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Plumbing for the elderly #blog 5


This article is aimed to give you a few ideas for how you can make your home or work plumbing easier to use as you get older.

At the end of each section I will highlight a cost category, to help indicate to you where the big ticket ideas are, I will try and give rough labour estimates as we go too, obviously products types ranges massively in price.

Let’s start with the easy ones

Tap ware

> 1/4 turn taps

if you have spindle type taps (these are the ones you have to turn at 360 degrees to turn on/off), then I would recommend installing 1/4 turn style spindle taps. As the name suggests they only require 1/4 of a turn to be turn fully on or off and only require small pressures to turn. Not like the good old taps where you had to break your hand to stop the water dripping.

Supply and replace approx $200 -$300

> Mixer tap

If you are thinking about renovating or making some small alterations then changing from spindle type taps to a mixer style lever tap is also a good option. They are very easy to use and don’t usually seize up as badly as the spindle style taps.

Sensor tap

You will see these in some shopping centre amenities. If you suffer from arthritis in the hands for example then these taps could be a game changer. They are available for basins and sinks and only require hand movements near to the tap for the tap to activate.

Again these products range in price a fair bit, but a bit of research should help you find an affordable product.

Labour cost $150 -$250

> Voice activated tapware

Not wanting to go too left field but google home will be changing the way we use our homes very soon. They already have so many awesome automated systems but the one which relates to this topic is the voice activated shower, you can even set it to the required temperature with only your voice. It will be years before this is a standard but it may be useful for someone out there now who has not heard of the product.

You can visit the link below to get an idea of the products out there.

> Support rails (grab rails)

With age our muscles get weaker, and we can get a little unstable on our feet, this is where grab rails come in really handy.

The photo below shows a commercial toilet we recently installed, similar to ones you would see in a shopping centre.

The rails in the photo are set to building regulations but when these are installed in your home, the beauty is that you can install them to match your exact needs.

With a shower you can also get a wall mounted bench seat which folds up and can be latched back to wall.

Relatively cheap to buy and can be installed by any capable tradesman or handyman.


Some toilets are designed to suit the elderly by lifting the rim of the toilet a little higher and making the toilet seat a bit more stable

I would definitely recommend installing a grab rail with your toilet, even if it’s only one, it will make a big difference to your life.

Toilets are also becoming more automated and now have touch less flush activation and also a voice activated flush.

Water Temperature

Our bodies get more susceptible to damage from hot water as we get older, this is why it is important that we put checks in place to ensure this never happens.

The standard device in all new homes limits water temperature to 50 degrees. This is ok when mixed with cold water but is still too hot for some.

A device called a thermostatic mixing valve is recommended for people who need a little more control over their water temperature. This device can control water temperature right down as low as cold water to warm.

If hot water is a real concern for you or a loved one, then this is the device for you.

Easy to install, $250-$350 to purchase.

Fixture and appliance Heights

This is one area people don’t generally think about too much.

Sinks, basins can be lifted or lowered, washing machines can be stacked so you never have bend down to do the washing again.

Height adjustable basins are generally wall hung like the photo below, but a cabinet maker can make your cabinets to suit any dimensions.

Also it is not to hard to lower or lift the tap heights in your shower or the height of an irrigation tap outside.

No extra cost when installing new, cheap to medium price to retrofit


There a number of jobs we can do to in the garden to greatly reduce the effort needed to maintain a well groomed garden.

> automatic irrigation system

Whether your garden is mainly lawn or flower bed, it doesn’t matter.

Pipe work is systematically laid around your garden, usually on the surface through your garden bed and at a shallow depth through lawn areas, and is then connected to a hose tap which is attached to either the water mains or rain water supply.

I have attached a link to an automatic irrigation timer. It is as simple as it looks. It is simply installed between your water supply and your irrigation pipe.

It then runs to the parameters you set, whether that be to run 1 hour per day or two, it responds to your needs.

If you are technologically savvy then you can hook up the water supply to your phone with some products, and even water the garden when you are in holiday, or stop it for a short while while the storm season passes.

Hose reels

Long gone are the days where we need to struggle unraveling kinked hoses.

There are hundreds of retractable hose types to choose from. These system are very easily installed and can be installed on walls or fences alike.

If they are placed in a central location in your garden, hoses are generally 20-30m long, so unless your garden is huge, 1-2 reels will be enough to service your whole garden.

You can visit your local Bunnings and try a few out, see which one best suits your needs.


There are so many simply products out their at affordable prices which could make life around your home a whole lot easier.

Why not make it a goal to add an easy feature to your plumbing each year or if you are the child of aging adult parents why not buy and install as a present.

One option to spread the cost out would be to find a plumber who would work on an hourly rate and be willing to give you an estimate time for the jobs.

If you visit, we have the work experience in this area to give quick accurate prices for supply and installation of these items.

Example pricing below

I would imagine hiring our plumber for 4 hours would achieve 2 bathrooms of 1/4 turn taps change overs, 2-4 grab rails, a hose tap hose reel, and maybe even a wall hung basin.

What I am trying to say is, a fair bit of improvement can be made over a short period of time, with communication and a bit of planning and working together, great things can be achieved to improve your life.

If you have any questions please email me at [email protected] or call me direct on 0437827502.