Our Top 11 Tips: For Bathroom Safety For Elderly
written by: Michael Lamew
Did you know that 1 in 4 Americans aged 65 above fall each year?
In fact, every 11 seconds, a senior goes to the emergency room for accidents due to slips and falls. (1)
And they mostly happen in the bathroom.
So if you are a senior—or your loved-one is—bathroom safety should be your number one priority.
Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways to make bathrooms safer for your older loved ones, saving you that stressful and costly trip to the ER.
Today, we’re here to help with our top 11 tips for you to implement asap.
Without further ado, here’s our practical guide to a safer elderly bathroom!
1. Install grab bars
Studies show that a weakened sense of balance is the most common cause of accidents for seniors. (2)
Installing grab bars is a necessity for a safer bathroom for elderly.
This is a shower hack that helps prevent injuries, and can even save lives.
According to epidemiologist Judy A. Stevens: “Injuries getting on and off the toilet are quite high in people 65 and older. Having grab bars by the toilet would be helpful for people in their older years, and everyone would benefit from having grab bars both inside the tub or shower and where you get in and out.” (3)
But what should you consider when purchasing a grab bar?
Make sure you install easy to see, slip-resistant, and wall-bolted ones. For some great options, check out our top alcove soaking tubs (and click here) where we selected a few ADA Compliant models that give you the ability to add extra safety features like this.
Purchasing cheap plastic-made or suction-cupped grab bars could just increase the chances of accidents instead of lowering them.
2. Install A Top-Rated Walk-In Tub
Bathtubs and shower stalls should also be a cause for concern.
Installing one of the best rated walk in tubs of the year significantly increases bathtub aids for elderly.
The option to simply “walk-in” to a tub instead of climbing into one can drastically reduce the risk of falling and slipping.
A highly-reviewed walk in tub is safer because they have lower step-in thresholds, built-in seats, anti-slip floors, and handheld showers that make a bath for seniors convenient and safe.
3. Get a shower chair or transfer bench
If buying a walk-in tub is not an option for you financially, there’s a cheaper option: a shower chair or transfer bench.
It’s not as safe as a fully-equipped walk-in tub, but it removes the need to “climb into” into your regular bathtub.
Some shower chairs come in simple stalls for mobile seniors.
But there are also shower chairs that are placed half-in-and-half-out in a bathtub. When you sit on it, you can gradually slide yourself into the shower.
4. Install a raised toilet seat
Purchasing a special raised-toilet seat could also help seniors who have trouble lowering and raising themselves from the toilet.
A raised toilet seat is elevated three to four inches higher than regular toilet seats.
5. Get a flexible handheld shower head
You can also make showering an easier experience by installing one of the best handheld shower heads available today.
Typical showers require elders to turn and move around, which makes them more prone to slipping.
With a flexible top-rated handheld shower head, seniors can manipulate the water stream and turn the shower on and off with a simple touch of a button.
6. Get a waterproof medical alert button
Medical alert systems are getting more and more popular for seniors.
Many falls happen in the bathroom so it makes sense to get a waterproof medical alert necklace or bracelet.
In emergencies, wearers can simply press the button and automatically be connected to a trained operator.
7. Improve bathroom lighting and door systems
Make adjustments around your bathroom and see how you can make things easier for seniors.
First, look at the lighting and door systems.
Poor lighting, especially at night, increases the risk of slipping, falling, and bumping into dangerous objects.
Consider installing automatic, sensor-detector bathroom night lights to make sure pathways are well-lit.
Also, consider how your doors are built.
8. Install a bath-lift
A bath-lift is another excellent option for making bathrooms safer for seniors.
Bath lifts work the same way as a raised toilet seat—they help seniors by safely lowering and lifting them in the bathtub or shower.
Walk-in tubs are still the optimal option, but for homeowners who aren’t ready for such a significant upgrade, a bath lift might be the best compromise.
There are options for battery-powered, air-inflatable and manual-crank units.
9. Install a safer and more convenient sink
Sinks can also pose a problem for seniors, and adjusting them for elderly safety is a relatively inexpensive way to start.
Consider installing faucets that are ADA-compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act), with easy to turn knobs and an adjustable hot limit safety stop.
10. Conveniently organize bathroom essentials.
For example, simply placing a shower caddy at arm’s height could remove the need for bending and turning.
Take it up a notch by placing wall-bolted soap and shampoo dispensers in your shower stalls.
11. Design a “safe” bathroom space
Consider designing your bathroom in a way that makes it easier for seniors to move around.
Avoid glaring wall and floor colors as they affect visibility.
Create enough space for storage to avoid clutter and make sure cabinets are placed within arm’s reach to prevent further accidents.
Lastly, try to avoid tiled showers that can be super-slippery, hence dangerous, and install anti-slip shower pans if you don't have a walk-in bathtub.
Summing it All Up: What You Should Do Now
What’s the price you put on safety?
Taking necessary steps to ensure bathroom safety for seniors is crucial especially for seniors with mobility impairment.
As proud members of society who values self-sufficiency and independence, today there are options to make your bathroom safer than ever before.
The 11 steps above are simple, practical, and convenient. They will save you a lot of stress later, and could possibly even save a life.
So don’t hesitate to apply them to your own home today.
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