Bathroom safety for seniors is extremely important since many seniors experience weakness, balance issues, frailty, and cognitive issues which can often make the simplest bathroom activity a difficult feat. It is important to help seniors preserve their dignity and independence for as long as possible. Simple modifications can assist in making the bathroom a safer and less intimidating place.
Bathrooms can be dangerous for seniors because they’re small spaces with many hard corners and surfaces. Seniors may have medical conditions that can cause dizziness when sitting down and standing up. They may also experience unsteady balance due to changes in blood pressure. Such conditions could easily lead to an upsetting fall.
Many simple and effective modifications can help to improve bathroom safety for seniors. These modifications can also enable seniors to take care of their everyday needs while also reducing their risks of falls, helping them to remain independent for as long as possible. Having the confidence to safely perform personal tasks can boost a senior’s self-esteem and mood.
1. Install Grab Bars
Grab bars are essential for seniors who may have balance issues or difficulties getting into and out of the bathtub or shower. Many seniors rely solely on towel bars to maintain their balance when moving about the bathroom; however, towel bars were not designed to support more than a few pounds of weight. These bars may give way under added weight, potentially causing harm to the senior. Grab bars can be easily installed in places that are easy to reach, so seniors can move confidently about the bathroom with greater ease.
Installed grab bars should be slip-resistant and easy to reach. While some bars can be suctioned to the wall, bolted grab bars can serve as a safer option, since suctioned bars may easily come loose, increasing the risk of injury. Ultimately, grab bars can serve as an inexpensive investment that may save a senior from a serious, life-changing injury.
It should be noted that grab bars are ideal for seniors who have a substantial upper-body strength and are able to safely hold onto the grab bars while standing or moving.
2. Place Non-Slip Mats Throughout Bathroom
A non-slip mat is a must-have item for seniors. Slips and falls in the bathroom are one of the main causes of injuries. Non-slip mats can enable seniors to navigate throughout the bathroom easily, minimizing the risk of falling on slippery or wet tiles. Non-slip mats can also be placed on floors and inside tubs and showers. Falls from standing in a slippery tub are preventable with a quality mat.
Non-slip rugs and mats can also be placed in front of the tubs, showers, toilets and sinks since these are the places that seniors are most likely to fall. An added benefit is that non-slip mats are also quite inexpensive.
3. Place Essential Items Within Reach
Toiletry items should be placed easily within reach, especially in the shower or bathtub. Products that are routinely used should be easily accessible to the senior without having to unsafely bend or stretch. Shower caddies can also be installed at arm’s height, making it easier to reach essential items such as soaps and shampoos. If possible, shower caddies should be mounted onto walls, since suction cup models are less secure and may easily fall.
An additional option would be to install dispensers on the walls of the bathtub or shower to eliminate the need for product bottles. Mounted dispensers are inexpensive and easy to install. A wall dispenser also decreases clutter in the shower, thus clearing the way of additional hazards.
More than one in three seniors over the age of 65 fall each year, and these falls often occur at home. According to a study reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 200,000 seniors are treated in hospitals each year for bathroom-related injuries. Bathrooms can be hazardous places for seniors, particularly those with medical conditions or mobility issues. Falls in the bathroom often result in injuries, and in some instances may even be fatal.
Many falls in the bathroom can be avoided by implementing safety precautions such as grab bars and non-slip mats. Making a few simple changes can help to create a safer bathroom in which seniors can feel secure and also have a reduced risk of injury.