Research compiled by the CDC found that seniors between the ages of 75 and 85 have the double the risk of suffering an injury in the bathroom. For seniors over the age of 85, that risk goes up even higher, and for many seniors, a fall in the bathroom is devastating, leading to severe injuries that lead to hospitalization.
Bathrooms become hazardous due to slippery surfaces and the lack of items to grab onto, increasing the risk of injury. Most bathroom injuries occur when:
- Getting up from or sitting down on the toilet
- Getting in and out of a shower or tub
- Walking while using sink tops, towel bars, and other objects to help provide balance
Certain other hazards in the bathroom can increase the risk of falls, including:
- Slippery shower and bathtub floors
- Slippery bathroom floor tiles
- Sliding shower doors that may unexpectedly move when getting in or out of the tub
- Low toilet heights
- Shower chairs that do not have slip-resistant material
When senior loved ones live at home, making the bathroom safe should be a top priority. It’s critical to take preventive measures to prevent falls and subsequent injuries in vulnerable seniors. Here are some helpful tips that can help you improve bathroom safety for an elderly family member.
Tip #1 – Raise the Toilet Height
Older adults often have a tough time lowering themselves down to the toilet seat and then getting back up to a standing position because of a lack of balance and leg and arm strength. Raising the height of the toilet seat can prevent accidents while using the toilet.
You have a couple of options from which you can choose to raise the toilet seat height. One option is to use a raised toilet seat that can be added to your existing toilet. Another option is to install a comfort height toilet in place of your current toilet, which offers a higher seat that improves bathroom safety.
Tip #2 – Add Grab Bars
Add grab bars throughout the bathroom to give loved ones something they can hold onto to prevent falls. They can be used by the toilet to help seniors get up and down from the toilet. They can also be installed by the tub or shower, providing something stable to hold onto while entering or exiting the tub or shower. Choose grab bars that are slip-resistant, and ensure they’re securely installed to studs in the wall to make sure they offer enough support.
Tip #3 – Install Non-Slip Surfaces
You’ll find plenty of slippery surfaces in a bathroom. The shower or bathtub floors are often slippery, making a fall likely. If water gets on the bathroom floor, the bathroom floor can become slippery as well. Add non-slip surfaces to the floor of the tub or shower, such as non-slip decals or non-slip mats that reduce the chances of a fall. Adding non-slip decals to bathroom tile floors can also prove helpful.
Tip #4 – Remove Obstacles
Removing obstacles in the bathroom that may be easily tripped over can improve bathroom safety. Eliminate throw rugs in the bathroom, which can be easy to trip over or slip on for elderly loved ones. Don’t store items on the floor where they can easily be tripped over.
Tip #5 – Improve Accessibility
Ensure that items used regularly are easily accessible to prevent falls while reaching up or bending down to retrieve items. Which is particularly important in the bathtub or shower, where it can already be a bit slippery. All bathing items, such as towels, soaps, washcloths, shampoos, and conditioners should be placed where they can be easily reached.
Tip #6 – Add Lighting to Improve Visibility
Many seniors are up multiple times at night to go to the bathroom since frequent urination is a common problem. Add lighting to improve visibility at night. Make sure the walkway between the bedroom and bathroom is well illuminated. Place a night light in the bathroom. Lighting the walkway and the bathroom well at night reduces the chance of a fall or injury.
Tip #7 – Modify Baths and Showers
Most homes have showers and bathtubs that aren’t easily accessible, creating a big safety problem for seniors aging at home. Several things can be done to baths and showers to make them safer for your loved one. Shower seats allow seniors to sit down while bathing, and along with a handheld shower can prevent slips in the shower or tub. Bath transfer benches can make it easier to get in and out of the tub.
Replacing your current tub with a walk-in tub eliminates the big step seniors need to make when getting into the tub. For seniors in wheelchairs, a roll-in shower stall offers plenty of room to maneuver and improves safety for wheelchair-bound seniors.
Tip #8 – Take Measures to Prevent Hot Water Burns
Since aging adults have delicate, thinner skin, they often don’t notice hot temperatures as quickly, increasing their risk for hot water burns. Make sure you keep the water heater set to 120 degrees F or lower to prevent burns. Labeling bathroom taps can also prove helpful.
Tip #9 – Change Bathroom Doors
If the bathroom door swings into the bathroom, consider changing the door to swing outward. This way if a fall occurs, it’s possible for caregivers or emergency workers to get into the bathroom to offer assistance.
Aging at home is an excellent choice for many seniors, but bathroom safety must be addressed to prevent dangerous falls and other injuries. While some modifications are easy to implement on your own, other bathroom modifications may require the help of a professional. Call us at (610) 518-2221 or use our online contact form to find out how our home modification pros can remodel your bathroom to make it a safer place.