5 Tips for Making Your Bathroom Safer

Definition

The bathroom is a key room in the house that must be used by all occupants, but it is also the most dangerous. The room is rife with hazards such as slippery floors, hard surfaces and low toilet seats that are difficult to rise from. However, despite the obstacles, the room can be made safer. 

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Introduction

Every 19 minutes, a person dies as the direct result of a fall or a fall-related injury. Unfortunately, one-fourth of all seniors will sustain a fall, according to the National Council on Aging. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that every year, approximately 200,000 seniors experience bathroom-related falls that require emergency room treatment. 

Walk-in tubs/showers, lighting, handrails, appropriate safety toilets, and non-slip bathroom flooring are viable and cost-efficient solutions to the dilemma. Although such safety devices do not prevent all accidents, they can significantly reduce the likelihood and lower the risk of an injury. 

Solutions

The Five Top Tips to Make a Bathroom Safer

  • Install Handrails: Handrails near the toilet, bathtub, and shower are ideal for seniors with mobility issues or those who suffer from balance impairment. A handrail, also called a grab bar, helps steady and balance the senior. Install the bars in easy-to-reach locations for stability during entrance and exit. A handrail can also be placed beside the toilet to steady the senior when sitting and rising. Suction cup handrails are available but tend to not work as well as bolt-on models because they can slide down the wall or break loose. Ideally, the handrail should be slip-resistant, which is especially important when the bar becomes wet. Handrail bars are an inexpensive investment that can easily prevent injury. Within the bath or shower, a tension bar is another thrifty option that provides much-needed support. 
  • Non-Slip Flooring: Tile and vinyl are two types of flooring that are common in a bathroom. Unfortunately, both can become very slippery when wet. Installing non-stick flooring might prevent a nasty fall. There are also spray-on treatments that create a rough surface. Non-slip adhesive strips also offer stabilization. Removable rubber suction-cup pads are also an inexpensive option. Most bathroom rugs should be avoided because they can slip and bunch, which creates an obstacle and may cause a fall. However, in recent years, thick bathroom rugs with strong rubber backings have been designed. These rugs do not slide across the floor and provide sure footing. 
  • Lighting: When getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, it is often hard to see obstacles. Having track floor lighting installed guides the way so that impediments are easily visible. Clap lighting is also another option. Computerized home programs such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa readily activate the lights in a room with a simple voice command. 
  • Walk-in Tub/Shower: A walk-in tub or shower is an expensive investment, but how do you put a price on safety? Rather than having to step over the side of a tub frame, a senior simply opens a small door and walks right into the tub. With a walk-in shower, there is no door or lip. The shower is designed to feature a small dip in the middle, so the water readily flows down the drain and not out onto the floor.  Many walk-in tub and shower companies offer financing and affordable prices. There is no doubt that walk-in showers and tubs are far safer than the traditional models. A senior does not have to worry about lifting their leg over the side of the tub or shower, which can cause balance issues and even create a tripping obstacle. 
  • Safety Toilets: A traditional, standard toilet stands 12 inches tall. With a traditional toilet, a senior must lower themselves down to sit and then lift themselves back up a considerable distance to safely stand. This may create instability and balance concerns which may cause a fall. Toilets that are designed as high-rise safety models are easily swapped out with the standard toilet model. Old toilet removal and new safety toilet installation can be done by a plumber, or as a DIY project.  A safety elevated toilet seat is another cost-efficient option. The elevated seat automatically increases the toilet’s height without requiring a new toilet installation. The old seat is removed from the toilet frame and the new, elevated seat is secured in place. Safety toilet seats raise the seat by about four inches, which makes it much easier for a senior to sit and rise
Conclusion

Nowadays, most seniors want to continue living fulfilling and independent lives in their own homes for as long as possible. However, living a self-reliant life means making changes to ensure safety. One of the first places in the home to undertake safety modifications should be the bathroom. With a few additions and alterations, most bathrooms can be made safe for a senior to navigate. Adding the above safety ideas to a bathroom can transform the space from a scary room into a secure haven. With the multitude of safety options available, the bathroom can again be a relaxing retreat for seniors, with just a few changes. 

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