Bathrooms may be scary places for elderly people or individuals with mobility issues. In fact, many injuries that occur at home happen in the bathroom. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 200,000 Americans receive emergency room treatment for bathroom-related injuries every year. With that being said, it is important to prep your bathroom for safety if you have an elderly person or an individual with mobility issues living in or frequently visiting your home.
Elderly members of your family who may suffer from balance and mobility issues are very susceptible to bathroom injuries. Whether it be from slipping on wet floors, low toilet seats, or insufficiently secured towel racks and grab bars, dealing with a bathroom-related injury is never fun. According to the National Council on Aging, one-fourth of older Americans fall each year. Even more concerning, a senior citizen dies from a fall every 19 minutes.
Fortunately, if you’re remodeling to accommodate older relatives or if you’re assisting an elderly person who is living alone, making your bathroom safer is not a difficult task. In doing so, you will reduce the chances of your elderly loved one or friend from experiencing serious injury or even death. In fact, a few simple changes will make your bathroom safer for the elderly and anyone who enters your home.
Safety Precautions for Showers and Tubs
Showers and tubs are often very slippery due to the type of flooring utilized in home showers. Oftentimes, this creates a significant hazard for elderly individuals. Let’s take a look at the various precautions you can take regarding shower and tub safety.
One of the best ways to avoid slipping in the shower is to install grab bars in an easy-to-reach place. This helps anyone, especially the elderly, with their balance and stability while entering or exiting a shower or tub. Grab bars are often bolted to studs in the wall, which is preferable to suction cup bars, as they may easily shift or become dislodged. It is important to note that all grab bars should feature a slip-resistant surface instead of a glossy finish.
If grab bars are not suitable for your shower or tub, consider utilizing a tension pole. Tension poles reach from the floor to the ceiling and make your bathroom safer by providing the elderly or individuals with mobility issues with something to hold onto for balance and support while bathing or showering.
In addition to grab-bars or tension poles, shower chairs are recommended for elderly individuals with mobility issues who shower on their own. These chairs allow individuals who have a hard time standing for periods of time with a safe way to rest while showering. It is important to always look for shower chairs that come equipped with non-slip rubber tips for stability.
Handheld Shower Heads
Utilizing a shower head that you can hold in your hand makes bathing much easier for the elderly. Providing elderly individuals with methods of showering on their own gives them a greater sense of independence and increased quality-of-life.
Non-Slip Mats or Tape
Non-slip mats and tape are meant to be placed in shower pans and tub bottoms. These fixtures are intended to help prevent slips and falls during showers.
Bathtub Transfer Benches
Bathtub transfer benches extend beyond the outside edge of the bathtub and are designed for individuals who have difficulty safely maneuvering over the tub wall while exiting a bathtub. Rather than stepping into and out of the bathing area, this feature allows you to simply slide and shift your weight from one end of the bench to the other. These devices help prevent falls and slips while exiting the bathtub.
Bathroom Floor Safety Precautions
Falls often occur when individuals with mobility issues step out of the shower or tub onto a wet floor. Placing anti-slip mats or rugs that are backed with non-slip materials on the bathroom floor helps to prevent water from accumulating and creating hazardous walking conditions. While towels may seem sufficient, they can slide on tile flooring or become tangled around the feet, increasing the risk of a fall.
Additional Ways to Make Your Bathroom Safer for the Elderly
While most accidents in the bathroom occur due to slippery showers, bathtubs, and floors, there are additional precautionary measures you should take. To ensure that your bathroom is safe for the elderly, consider the following tips.
Place Items Within Reach
When using the bathroom, elderly individuals with mobility issues should be able to reach toiletry items without having to stretch or bend. To do so, hanging a simple shower caddy over the shower head within easy reach or installing soap and shampoo dispensers along the shower wall will help tremendously. Either way, you should prevent product bottles and items from cluttering the floor or the bottom of the tub and creating tripping hazards by placing them in purposeful and easy-to-reach places.
Make the Bathroom Easy on the Eyes
High-gloss paints and tiles may produce a glare that can cause falls. However, using matte finishes is the best way to make potentially hazardous areas in the bathroom more visible. Additionally, choosing wall and floor colors or patterns that contrast makes the bathroom easier to navigate.
Install Proper Lighting
Poor bathroom lighting often increases the risk of elderly falls. Using night lights to make sure that the path from the bedroom to the bathroom is well lit while making sure the bathroom has adequate lighting helps to prevent injury in the elderly and individuals with mobility issues.
Purchasing Bathroom Safety Items for the Elderly
As mentioned, it can be difficult to navigate a bathroom that hasn’t been properly equipped for elderly individuals with mobility issues. To prevent falls and injury, you should always prep your bathroom to accommodate any older adults with mobility issues that may visit your bathroom. To find quality and cost-effective bathroom safety precaution items, visit our online store.