10 Ways to Make the Bathroom Safe for Seniors
In general, wet slippery surfaces are dangerous, often leading to slips and falls suffered by even young, healthy people. However, with new physical difficulties and inabilities, older adults are more prone to a fall, leaving them at the risk of being severely injured or disabled. According to statistics, one in three seniors falls every year, with 20% of these falls resulting in a serious injury such as a broken bone or head trauma. These falls can also be fatal.
While slippery surfaces can be found in any part of the house—kitchen, garden, stairs, or even the living room, the bathroom is the most likely candidate to cause a fall owing to its water utility facilities (toilet and the shower area). Thus, making sure the bathroom has adequate safety measures goes a long way in keeping them safe. The good news is that elderly bathing solutions are readily available these days, and bathroom safety equipment can effectively prevent accidents and put one’s mind at ease. If you’re looking to do a senior bathroom makeover, a bathroom safety checklist can come in handy and make sure you’ve covered all grounds.
Bathroom Safety Checklist
Here are a few ways in which you can improve bathroom safety for seniors:
- Installing grab bars near the toilet, tub, and shower area
Bathroom safety bars can easily be installed wherever needed. Whether it’s toilet grab bars that help seniors sit or stand up from the toilet or shower and tub grab bars, these will ensure that the senior has plenty of support while moving around in wet, slippery areas. Grab rails help them move from one place to the other. These bars are a boon to the elderly; they allow them to take care of their hygiene without having to worry about a mishap or having to depend on others for assistance.
- Anti-skid bathroom mats
Another essential product when keeping bathroom safety for the elderly in mind is the anti-skid bathroom mat. Made from high-quality materials such as rubber or PVC, these mats allow for free movement even on wet surfaces as they offer a strong foot grip and traction. Usually waterproof, these non-slip grip mats dry easily, thus allowing that extra reassuring dry feel.
- Anti-skid tiles in the bathroom
If you’re going to go all-out and do a complete senior bathroom makeover, it’s good to consider re-tiling with anti-skid tiles. Regular bathroom tiles are notoriously slippery when wet and pose a safety hazard for the elderly. With a senior more susceptible to severe injury after a slip in the bathroom, it’s a good idea to redo the bathroom flooring altogether. Anti-slip tiles are durable and won’t lose their slip-resistance over time due to wear and tear.
- Sufficient lighting in and outside the bathroom
Unlike the average person, seniors tend to visit the bathroom more frequently, even at night. It’s essential that both daytime and nighttime lighting inside and outside the bathroom is adequate, ensuring trips to the bathroom remain uneventful. A useful option would be automated motion sensor lighting that gives the elder one less thing to remember or worry about. Another point to consider is that aging eyes process light differently. With reduced eyesight, light sensitivity, decrease in pupil size, and even common eye diseases, there’s much to consider when installing lighting. Cooler lighting helps the elderly distinguish form and color more easily, while dimmers can ensure the adjustment of harsh lighting. Also, ensure that the switches are at easily accessible places.
- Adjustable toilet seats
Unfortunately, seniors have to deal with more knee, back, and joint pains than the average person. This makes sitting or squatting on a toilet seat an unpleasant experience. A solution would be to install adjustable height toilet seats that can be adjusted according to one’s comfort. Some feature side handles that provide added support. One can also opt for padded seats that reduce friction and protect sensitive skin.
- Shower chair and hand-held showers for easy bathing
A shower chair provides convenience for the elderly who have mobility issues. Having a shower can become quite a challenge and a safety hazard for a senior who cannot perform everyday tasks like they used to. These chairs are specially designed to be used in the shower and, being lightweight yet strong, eliminate the chances of any accidents. Another handy installment is the hand-held shower. Useful to both seniors themselves and their caregivers, these installments come with extendable hoses that make it easier to move around the body.
- Installing a transfer bench
Many seniors need help getting out of a bathtub, and some need more assistance than others. Transfer benches that attach to the side of the bathtub make getting in and out of the bathtub safe and easy. By sitting down at the edge of the tub then lifting their legs over the barrier, seniors can prevent dangerous slips or falls.
- Bathtub safety steps
Another reliable piece of bathtub assistance equipment is the bathtub safety step, such as the step2tub. This step allows for easy access in and out of the tub while offering a safe non-slip surface. With an extra-wide step, those who struggle with knee pain, hip pain, or reduced mobility can get in and out of the tub with ease.
- Storage cabinets at reachable heights
With increasing mobility issues, it’s a good idea to install storage cabinets in a place and at a height that is most convenient for the senior. Most seniors may not be able to reach high places or tiptoe on wet surfaces, so this is something to consider when refurbishing the bathroom for a senior. The medicine cabinet is frequently used and should be accessible no matter what the situation.
- Ensuring the entrance of the bathroom is at the same floor level to avoid tripping
Ground unevenness is a major cause of tripping and accidents. So, it is important to plan the layout of the bathroom and bathroom entryway flooring in such a way that the surface is completely smooth and even. If the bathroom isn't on the same floor level or the senior has to go up or down some steps to enter it, there's an added risk of falls. Raising or lowering surfaces so that everything is even maybe an investment but will be well worth it.
Along with these, additional safety measures can be adopted, such as wearable alert devices that would enable the senior to call for help in case of a fall, or a phone installed in the bathroom, or a waterproof case for the mobile phone. While these measures are necessary to take care of the elderly, it is always recommended to keep evaluating a senior citizen’s ability to live independently and assess if additional assistance or supervision is required.