Bathrooms can be a dangerous hazard for anyone who is aging. Floors are tiled, surfaces are wet, the space is tight, and everything is made of hard materials. It’s no wonder then that 80% of the millions of falls that occur after the age of 65 occur in the bathroom.
January is National Bath Safety Month; while bathrooms can be a dangerous place for elders, there are several things you can do to help your aging loved one stay safe there. Here, we will show you 6 areas of the bathroom that you should look at and improve to ensure your loved one doesn’t become a statistic.
Six Bathroom Safety Tips for Elders
- Getting to the Bathroom
One thing that is often overlooked is the path that leads to the bathroom. Since the bathroom is one of the most visited rooms of any house, making sure there’s a safe path to get there is important.
Check to make sure the walking path to the bathroom is properly lit. This may require replacing low-light bulbs with brighter bulbs or adding extra lighting such as night lights to light the way when it’s dark.
Next, check the width of the doorway to the bathroom. Make sure your loved one can enter the bathroom with whatever walking assistance they may be using or need in the future, such as a walker. You may need to retrofit the entrance to make it more accommodating.
- Using the Shower
Look at their physical shower and see if they have to step over a tub to get in. A big source for falls in the bathroom happens during this action. You can minimize this risk by installing handrails outside the tub to steady themselves while they get in and out of the tub. You can also reduce the risk of falls by installing handrails inside the shower or bath to help them stand during showering and maneuver around the tub.
If the shower is enclosed with doors, you may want to consider replacing the glass with safety glass or plastic to avoid further injury in the case of a fall. Being cut by glass will only worsen the situation.
Install a non-slip mat in the bath or shower. Even an inexpensive mat will be able to help an elderly person stay upright when they have balance or strength issues. You also might want to lower the chance of slipping by adding a bath bench or chair to the tub. Eliminating lengthy standing time will reduce their chances of falling. When installing a seat, make sure your loved one is still able to reach the showerhead. Attachments can be purchased to make the showerhead handheld so they do not have reach or twist to reach the water source.
- Walking on the Floors
If the bathroom floor is slippery tile, you may want to consider having the floor replaced or covered with a less dangerous material, such as vinyl or bamboo. If you’re on a budget, non-slip mats to cover the floor will work as well.
Make sure that anything on the floor is there for utility and not for decoration. Floor rugs that are there for comfort or decoration can lead to trips or falls and should be removed.
- Using the Toilet
Getting on and off the toilet can be hazardous for anyone who has strength or balance issues. If your loved one has difficulty in getting up and down from the toilet, installing a raised toilet seat and toilet grab bars can greatly reduce their chances of falling and increase their ability to use the bathroom independently.
- Toiletry Supplies
Ensure all the necessities are well within reach. This includes towels, toilet paper, extra toilet paper, washcloths, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. If any shelving requires reaching over their head or using a step stool, find a new place to store toiletries to keep it within reach.
- Sitting Outside the Shower
From brushing teeth to fixing hair and makeup, there could be a lot of standing in the bathroom which increases the risk of losing balance and falling. If the bathroom is big enough, consider an additional stool or seat that will reduce how long they are standing doing these activities. If the bathroom is tight quarters, though, an additional seat will only create an additional tripping hazard, so be sure the space is big enough.
While a couple items listed above require tools and minimum skill, most of these steps are quick and easy for anyone to accomplish to make the bathroom safer for an aging loved one. Making items more accessible and installing non-stick mats alone will immediately eliminate a lot of the hazards in the bathroom.
If your loved one requires additional assistance, we’re happy to help. Click here to access our free assessment guide today!