7 Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors. The bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in a home, especially for seniors. Seniors can easily slip and fall in the tub or on the toilet if they have decreased peripheral vision or don’t see around themselves well enough to avoid obstacles. According to National Institute on Aging (NIA) statistics, one out of every four Americans over the age of 65 have a fall annually and more than 1.6 million older Americans end up in the emergency room due to fall-related injuries. Up to 80 percent of these falls occur in the bathroom.
Bathroom safety for seniors is critical. Injuries due to bathroom falls can range from mild to severe. You may be wondering how you can ensure that your elderly loved ones are safe in the bathroom. If you take just a few of these simple preventative steps, you can help secure your loved one’s safety while also giving them independence.
Why Are Bathrooms Dangerous for Seniors?
While a trip to the doctor isn’t likely for most seniors, falls in the bathroom are a serious risk. Seniors are four times more likely to fall in the bathroom than any other location and up to half of all falls occur while getting out of or into a chair. Bathrooms contain small spaces, hard surfaces, and sharp corners. They often involve a lot of sitting down, standing up, and turning around. Dizziness, loss of balance, changes in blood pressure, dropped items, and more all present risks to seniors.
The safety and privacy of older adults should be our top priority. A faulty bathroom can quickly turn tragic, with a dangerous fall and possible serious injury or death. To ensure that your bathroom is as safe as possible, it’s important to pay attention to your seniors’ needs and install the upgrades listed below. These upgrades will help keep older people safe and living in their own homes for as long as possible.
Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors
1. Replace the Bathtub with a Shower
Having a bathtub might be a luxury for some of us, but for seniors, it presents a bit of an obstacle. Tubs are much harder to get in and out of, shower in, and clean, which only increases the risk of falls for seniors. A walk-in shower instead of a bathtub provides easier accessibility for older people, as well as an increased safety precaution. It can offer a wider range of motion and clear floor space for maneuvering within the room. It helps reduce the risk of falls by allowing users to safely enter and exit a shower without having to step out of the tub. The walk-in shower was originally designed with two goals in mind. It also provides more space to move around in the shower and lessens the risk of pressure sores from sitting for long periods of time. It is not just for seniors, it is for anyone who loses balance easily or has limited mobility and would prefer not to have a tub in their bathroom.
2. Keep the Floor Dry
As we age, our bones lose their flexibility and strength. A slip or fall in the bathroom can lead to serious injury or even death. To help prevent this from happening, be sure to keep all bathroom floor surfaces dry. This may sound like a no-brainer tip but it’s one of the most important things you can do to increase bathroom safety for older people. Wet or damp floors are a slipping and falling hazard to anyone, but they become much more dangerous for seniors since a fall can be much more devastating to elderly bones.
To eliminate the risk of slips and falls in the bathroom, be sure to have proper traction devices such as non-slip mats in areas where people usually stand, as well as on all shower and tub surfaces. Be sure there are bath mats to soak up water near the shower, sink, and toilet area. Also, consider rugs or mats with grips on the back so they don’t become a tripping hazard. Finally, keep in mind that some homes have ceramic tile floors which can easily absorb liquids. Under such circumstances, too much liquid may cause a leak or damage your flooring if left unattended.
3. Install Grab Bars
Installing grab bars in and around your shower is a great way to make your senior feel safer when stepping onto the shower floor. It will also provide balance support for people who have trouble with balance. This is especially important if they have difficulty stepping onto the floor, pulling themselves up onto a bench or stool, or manipulating the faucet or showerhead.
Grasping for something to save your balance is an instinctual response for anyone who doesn’t want to fall. Make this easier on your seniors by installing grab bars in and around your shower so they have something to rely on. Rather than putting their hands on the wall for balance, seniors will be able to use the grab bars for support while showering. This means that they’ll have something to hold on to when the water moves suddenly, helping them remain steady and safe.
4. Install Shower Seating
For the safety of seniors and to give them a little extra help in the shower, try installing bath seating. The risk of fall is highest when walking on wet or slippery surfaces, like wet floors and bathtubs. Installing bath seating in your shower can help prevent falls by offering a place to sit while grooming and getting ready for the day. Installing a shower bench in your shower not only gives your senior a safe, stable place to sit when bathing, it also gives the appearance of an elegant and comfortable sitting room that warms and inspires relaxation. There are many different styles of bath seating available to suit not only your senior’s needs but the bathroom style as well.
5. Upgrade Your Showerhead
Upgrading your traditional showerhead to a hand-held option can help reduce the stress and risk of shower time for seniors, especially if there is shower seating for them as well. The device can allow them to comfortably sit down while washing. Hand-held showerhead are available in a wide variety of styles, sizes and flow rates to best suit the user’s needs and space constraints. Some also include built-in handles or be easily attached to existing shower heads.
6. Use Non-Slip Mats
One of the most common reasons for falls in the elderly is the slippery surface of bathroom floors. To prevent falls, it is important to make the floor and walls as slip-resistant as possible and non-slip mats are an inexpensive yet effective way to accomplish this. Putting some non-slip mats in the bathroom can help seniors navigate the space much easier, whether they’re placed in the shower to make it less slippery or non-slip rugs are placed outside the shower to help soak up any water that drips.
7. Make Sure All Essentials Are Easily Accessible
Don’t make the soaps and shampoo hard to reach. A shelf within arm’s reach in the shower will not only save time by reducing trips to and from the sink but also help make bathing easier for seniors and people with physical disabilities. Convenient shelving that is within arm’s reach will make it much easier for a senior to navigate the shower and reduces tripping hazards created by leaving bottles on the shower floor. Mounted dispensers for soap or shampoo are another viable option since these are easy to refill and don’t run the risk of falling off of shelves, creating a bigger hazard.
Make your bathroom safe for seniors
Seniors deserve to have the independence they once enjoyed, but many are not safe in the bathroom without assistance. Our top priority at The Long Baths is the safety and security of our seniors’ loved ones. To help keep seniors safe while they are in the bathroom, we make Upgrading your tub to a shower and installing safety precautions for seniors easy for you. The Long Baths™ team causes little to no disruption to your routine by working hard to finish your tub to shower conversion. Call Mississippi Landsource or Doug Rushing Realty at 601-966-4881 or visit us online today to get a quote or schedule a free, in-home consultation.