A bidet toilet combo is a must for your bathroom remodel. It is especially beneficial in and aging in place remodel scenario.
|1: Bidet background|
|2: Bidet game changers|
|3: Bidet benefits|
|4: The modern bidet|
|5: Bidet takeaway|
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After a long historical absence, predating the American Revolution, bidets are gradually gaining wider acceptance in the US.
In a remodeling scenario, bidets are a highly recommended addition to any bathroom. They are particularly recommended in an aging in place scenario, for reasons we explore here.
It is surprising that in the USA, the land of innovation and world leader in so many areas, the bidet is still very little known. However, they are in wide use in various forms in bathrooms around the rest of the world (by some estimates 80% of it). This includes countries such as France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, India, Pakistan, Japan,
In fact, most of the rest of the world, when answering a call of nature, finds that washing one’s nether regions with a well-directed soft stream of warm water in a bidet is gentler, faster, and more thorough than wiping them with toilet paper.
What is a bidet?
The bidet was invented around 1710 in France as an aid for washing one’s private parts. The word bidet (pronounced bee-day) is French, meaning a cob or short-legged horse. This conveys a mental picture of straddling the device to complete the task at hand.
The bidet was originally used in the bedrooms of the French nobility as a companion to the chamber pot. Sometime around 1750 a hand pump and spray were added to this appliance.
Eventually, both chamber pot and bidet were moved out of the bedroom and were installed side by side in a separate bathroom. And from France, the bidet spread around most of the world.
Why didn’t bidets catch on in the US?
Nobody really knows why the bidet was not adopted in the US. Theories range from the cultural to the practical.
The Cultural Theory Behind Bidet Resistance
The cultural theory is that Americans (like the British) resisted the bidet simply because it was French and therefore somehow suspect. In addition, there is the natural inertia induced by a well-accepted custom of just using toilet paper. In the same way that people accustomed to the bidet think it the sanitary thing to use, people used to paper have come to think the same way about paper.
The Practical Theory Behind Bidet Resistance
The practical theory is that the typical American toilet is contained in a small room with no space for a side by side bidet. And even when the toilet is included within the bathroom itself, there is generally insufficient room for a bidet.
On top of that, there is a considerable extra cost involved in adding a bidet. This includes the additional plumbing that is necessary to install a separate piece of porcelain plumbing. It involves an extra waste drain, extra hot and cold water supply lines, and sometimes an additional power outlet.
BIDET GAME CHANGERS
The growing market for bidets in the US is being driven by a number of factors, including technology, design, the environment, health, and the growing number of seniors. These amount to market game-changers.
Cost of the Bidet Solution
Some of the practical and cost objections to the bidet (no space and too expensive too install) have now been overcome. The modern bidet is no longer necessarily separate and apart from the toilet itself as a freestanding unit. Rather, the bidet has now in various ways become integrated with the toilet itself. These innovations range from the retrofitted bidet/toilet seat to the fully merged hybrid toilet-bidet solution. The bidet/toilet seat is easy to install and relatively inexpensive.
The Bidet and the Environment
Additional impetus for market acceptance comes from environmental concerns. In America, we use around 37 billion rolls of toilet paper every year. This is equivalent to some 15 million trees. These trees have to be pulped and processed, using significant water and energy. There are estimates that bidet use could reduce toilet paper use to around ten percent of this. This is because most people use very little toilet paper to dry off after using the bidet. So we can “save the trees” and save money too!
The Bidet, Health, and Hygiene
As to health and hygiene, there is a growing consensus that bidets are better. It comes down to “washing it off is better than wiping it off.” This makes sense, when you think about it, say, in terms of pet care. If you were to get cat or dog poop on your hands by accident, it’s guaranteed you would wash it off rather than try just wipe it off with dry paper. The same applies to human waste.
So a bidet is really the cleaner way to go. Plus the rashes and irritation that can be caused by rough wiping are a potential pathway to bacterial infection. The bidet helps prevent this.
In fact, bidet washing has been found helpful for the relief of symptoms and problems related to incontinence, hemorrhoids, tender skin, itching, and some feminine complaints.
And, no. You do not need soap when you are washing these areas with water. The constant use of soap can lead to the drying out of mucosal skin, which in turn can increase the risk of infection. In fact, the medically approved way to clean this area is just warm water.
Bidets Great for Women
Bidets are for everyone for a variety of obvious reasons (including no more skid marks on underwear). But they are especially beneficial for feminine hygiene during menstruation, in pregnancy and postpartum.
On top of this, the bidet is getting wider acceptance among the rapidly growing older American population, including those who care for them. This brings us to the main theme of this site: Aging in Place.
Bidets and Seniors – Safety, Hygiene, Better Quality of Life
Because we are dealing with everyday excretory functions, we need to get a little graphic here. But none of this is foreign to any of us. So, with that out of the way, let’s get into it.
As we get older, bathroom-related issues get more and more difficult to deal with. We list some of them below along with the solutions that a bidet brings.
- Related post: How to Remodel for Aging in Place
Bidets Help with Impaired Mobility and Balance
Stiffened joints, weak muscles, and loss of balance can make the simple act of going to the toilet difficult or even dangerous. There are many reported instances of people, in trying to twist around to wipe themselves, losing their balance, falling off the toilet and getting hurt.
Now enter the bidet. The integrated toilet-bidet or bidet seat add-on helps avoid this. With a bidet, little or no wiping is required, avoiding the need to keep standing up and sitting down. So a bidet makes this aspect of personal hygiene easier and safer.
Of course, the relative safety of the bidet should be supplemented with appropriately placed grab bars and rails.
Bidets Help with Arthritic Hands
Arthritis impedes manual dexterity, meaning that the simple job of wiping oneself with paper does not get done right. This leaves urine or excrement on the skin, which in turn can lead to infection. So enter the bidet, which pretty much eliminates the need to wipe at all. Modern bidets are quite easily operated by arthritic hands and many come with remote controls.
Bidets Help with Susceptibility to Infection and Skin Irritation
With increasing age comes thinning skin. This includes the skin of the perineum. The act of wiping oneself after using the toilet can chafe and cause irritation to this area. And if excrement is left behind on the skin after wiping, this can lead to skin infection. It also increases the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), especially in women.
So enter the bidet, which, because its gentle and warm wash reduces the need to wipe, if at all. Thus it can help reduce risks of infection and irritation. And if you do use paper you are just “patting dry,” not wiping.
Bidets Help Manage Incontinence, Diarrhea and Hemorrhoids
Incontinence: Many seniors, especially women, suffer from incontinence. This can lead to infection when urine is left on the skin. Bidets can help with this by allowing for frequent and convenient washing without having to take a shower.
Diarrhea: as with incontinence, seniors tend to be susceptible to diarrhea as their digestive systems become less efficient. So bidets can obviously help with that, in the same way they help with incontinence.
Hemorrhoids: Seniors tend to suffer from hemorrhoids because of constipation that tends to come with aging digestive systems. This makes wiping difficult and painful. So bidets help manage this too.
Bidets Help with General Hygiene and Bathing
The regular use of the bidet can reduce the frequency of the need to use a shower or bathtub. This is because the parts of the body that need washing most are taken care of by the bidet.
This has the additional benefit of increased bathroom safety for the senior. This is because less frequent use of the tub or shower has the simultaneous effect of reducing the risk of falls in them. This is where most bathroom accidents occur.
Bidets Reduce Reliance on Caregivers
Seniors often need caregivers to help with bathing and toileting. And nobody likes to have their anal and genital regions cleaned by a third party. It is not only personally embarrassing. It is also costly, because the caregiver has to be paid.
Even when a caregiver is needed, having the bidet in the bathroom makes it much easier and safer for the caregiver to provide the necessary attention without having to maneuver the senior in and out of the tub or shower.
Side note: the comfort height toilet. If you are just considering a bidet toilet seat, be sure to pair it with a comfort height toilet. Your senior will thank you for it.
So, obviously depending on the degree of need, it is easy to see that the use of a bidet can reduce reliance on caregivers. This is a little noticed way in whicn the bidet can actually pay for itself.
THE MODERN BIDET
Bidet Seats for Standard Toilets
For bathrooms where the extra space is not available for a separate bidet, there are now bidet seat kits available to retrofit existing toilets. These come in many models with various features. They are relatively inexpensive and provide great health, hygiene, and environmental benefits at low cost.
Bidet & Toilet Combination
The old school bidet is a plumbing unit that is separate and apart from the toilet. It has its own waste drain and its own fresh water supply. However the modern bidet is integrated into the toilet itself, either by way of a bidet-seat that simply replaces your old toilet seat; or by way of integration with the toilet during the course of original manufacture.
Bidet Bells and Whistles
The modern bidet is not limited to the simple cold water wash function. Depending on the model (whether it is a bidet-toilet seat add-on, or a fully integrated unit), it can include these comfort and spa-like convenience features:
- Warm water with adjustable temperature and adjustable pressure (some units have a water reservoir tank, others have a heating coil)
- Warm air dryer
- Heated seat with adjustable temperature
- A variety of wash nozzle features (oscillating, massaging, and even enema wash)
- Attached control panel or remote control (with wall mounting)
- Night light
- Built-in air deodorizer
Note: some of these functions require a nearby electrical outlet
THE BIDET TAKEAWAY
Whenever we talk about home improvements, we always ask whether what we are doing adds value to our property. So do bidets add value to the real estate?
So far the answer is “not really”. This is because the bidet itself is still relatively unknown and underappreciated as standard bathroom equipment. But this willl change for the reasons we have outlined above.
So, if you have the opportunity to add a bidet as part of a remodeling project, you should do it for its future real estate value. There will come a time when people will expect to find a bidet when house hunting.
Regardless of the real estate issue, just get a bidet and enjoy it for all of the reasons we have given here. Once you start using it, you will not want to go back to toilet paper.