According to the National Counsel on Aging, one in four adults over the age of 65 fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. In another statistic, from the National Institute of Aging, it is reported that 80% of these falls happen in the bathroom. With such startling statistics, it’s important to think about making the bathroom a safer place for aging adults. Whether you are building your home and want to plan ahead for safety as you age, or you have a loved one that needs safety improvements in their bathroom ASAP, this list will give you some ideas on how you can improve the safety of a bathroom for seniors.
ELEVATED TOILET SEAT WITH HANDLES
These raised toilet seats can be purchased at many convenient stores such as Walmart, Amazon, etc. They raise the height of the toilet to make it easier to sit down and rise up. The handles provide balance and extra assistance with these tasks.
SHOWER CHAIR OR TRANSFER BENCH
A shower chair is an easy solution to provide assistance for those that have a hard time with balance in the shower, or have a hard time with standing for extended periods of time and need a chair to rest. An advantage to this chair is that it can be easily removed for others using the shower in the home. A transfer bench removes the obstacle of getting into and out of the bathtub. This bench is ideal for those that don’t have the proper balance to step up and into the bathtub. An individual sits on the bench, slides themselves over and into the tub, and can remain seated during the shower with the use of a handheld shower head (which will be discussed below).
Often times, things such as towel racks are used as handles, which can be very dangerous as these racks are not strong enough to support our weight. Wall-mounted handles or grab bars in the bathroom can help provide support in the areas where assistance is needed. These are commonly installed inside the shower or next to the toilet. They also make grab bars that attach to the side of the bathtub that can assist with getting into and out of the tub.
DETACHABLE / HANDHELD SHOWER HEAD
Installation of a detachable shower head makes showering much easier and safer for seniors. With the use of a handheld shower head, showering can be done completely in the sitting position. Delta has a large selection of handheld shower heads which can be found here. (Choose the hand showers filter to see only those with detachable shower heads.)
WALK IN TUB
Another option for shower and bathtub safety is to install a walk-in tub. These tubs are designed for safety. The bather walks into the tub over a very low threshold, closes the water tight door, fills the tub, bathes, drains the water, and then opens the door and steps out of the tub. There are many designs to these tubs that can assist with many different circumstances including those adults that use a wheelchair. If you would like a free estimate to install a walk in tub, or would like to hear more about them, contact us here.
The combination of water on tile makes for a very slippery surface. It’s imperative to have a non-slip mat or decals on the bottom of the shower or tub. A non-slip mat outside the bathtub/shower will help prevent falls from slipping on the wet floor after exiting the bath.
REMOVE CLUTTER AND FLOOR MATS THAT ARE NOT SLIP RESISTANT
Clutter in the bathroom and floor mats that are not slip resistant are tripping hazards. Make note of anything that is in the bathroom that could potentially cause a trip, and remove it before it becomes a problem.
A nightlight is a very quick, easy safety feature to add that makes a huge difference. As we age, it can become harder to see, especially at night time. Adding a nightlight helps illuminate the bathroom and can prevent tripping over things that could result in a fall.
PUT TOILETRIES AND OTHER ESSENTIAL ITEMS WITHIN REACH
Toilet paper rolls, showering items, and anything else that is often used in the bathroom should be placed at an easy to reach distance to prevent overreaching and falling. A small shower caddy placed at a height that does not require bending down or reaching very high can make a huge improvement in shower safety.
CABINET HANDLES WITH CLOSED ENDS
Installing cabinet handles with closed ends can help prevent clothing being snagged on a handle in turn causing a fall.
CONSIDER AN OUTWARD SWINGING DOOR
In a worse case scenario where someone falls in the bathroom and can’t get up, it is important for help to be able to get to them. If a person falls against a door that opens inward, this can cause a major problem getting to that person quickly. It’s important to consider installing an outward swinging door or a sliding pocket door so that there is not a delay in getting into the bathroom to help someone who has fallen.
This concludes the list of tips to make the bathroom safer for seniors. Most of these tips are very easy, quick to install ideas that you can do yourself to greatly improve safety. A few of the tips may require a professional’s help. If you need any assistance in installing safety features in your bathroom, Plumb Doctor is always available to help and provides free estimates. We can assist you in the planning and installation of multiple bathroom safety features. Fill out the form below or call us at 317-306-9343 and we will help you get started!