Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors

bathroom safety tips for seniors

Not only are bathroom falls dangerous – they can be fatal – particularly for seniors who are more fragile or who wind up requiring surgery. Post-surgical declines and complications are known for stripping seniors of their original mobility, health, and well-being. So knowledge of bathroom safety tips should always be collected.

The bathroom is one of the major causes of senior slip-and-fall accidents, so bathroom safety tips are an important step in helping a senior to age safely in place. Within the bathroom – the biggest offenders are:

  • Low toilets
  • Slippery floors/wet floors
  • Shower/bath floors that aren’t slip-resistant
  • Shower/bath chairs that aren’t slip-resistant
  • Grab bars and/or towel racks that aren’t sufficiently secured

7 Bathroom Safety Tips to Make the Bathroom One of the Safest Rooms in the House

The good news is that the following improvements aren’t just good for seniors – they’re good for everyone who lives in or visits the home. In fact, while universal and accessible home designs were initially tailored towards the senior population, they’re quickly becoming a tenet of good home design in general. When done professionally, these accessible bathroom improvements can increase the resale value of your home down the road.

Use slip-proof mats in tubs, showers and bathroom floors

Slip-proof mats provide significantly more grip than slick bath/shower floors. Even the most subtle shift or slip of the foot can knock seniors off balance and the only surfaces to land upon are hard ones. Similarly, invest in high-quality shower chairs that have slip-proof feet.

Note: It’s a good idea to purchase a shower chair before a senior feels s/he needs it. They come in handy, even in the event of a bad flu, the end of a long day, or even something as simple as a sprained ankle.

Have a contractor install grab bars in appropriate locations

The first thing we do when we fall is reach out for something to hang on to. If that “something” is a regularly-installed towel rack, odds are one or both sides will pull out of the wall – and that’s a dangerous situation. Instead, have a contractor or licensed, professional repairperson install grab bars that are securely anchored into wall studs- rather than sheetrock.

ADA approved grab bars should be installed:

  • Near the toilet
  • Inside the shower or bath
  • Near the shower or bath
  • Anywhere else that makes sense depending on the bathroom’s size, layout or usage.

Keep in mind that grab bars can be used as a towel rack too, which provides a twofer!

Use non-slip, ultra-absorbent bathroom mats

Make sure the rugs in the bathroom are designed for bathroom use – including non-slip backs and ultra-absorbent materials. These wick surface water from the floors, helping to minimize slip risks.

Install an elevated height toilet

Switching a lower, outdated bathroom toilet for a higher-seated counterpart is a quick fix that makes it easier to sit down and get back up without a struggle. If this isn’t possible where you live, you can find different types of raised toilet seats online for very reasonable prices. If it isn’t possible to install secure grab bars in the toilet niche, order a seat that has safety bars included.

Keep things within close reach

Make sure seniors can access all of their everyday toiletries, shower/bath items, and extra rolls of toilet paper easily and accessibly. This may require a re-organization of the cabinets and drawers (minimizing the need to bend over or get down on hands and knees), using a shower caddy that hangs from the shower faucet, etc.

Update bathroom (and household!) lighting

The slow loss of vision is a common side effect of aging, and it requires improvements in household lighting. The bathroom is particularly important, as seniors need ample light to read the labels on prescription and over-the-counter medications, and night-lighting allows seniors to find and use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Ensure safe entrance/exit and maneuverability

Is the bathroom doorway causing problems for mobility aids? Can the senior make their way into and out of – as well as around – the bathroom without a struggle. It may be time to change door hinging, remove the door altogether or work with a contractor to expand the doorway to an ADA-accessible width. Re-locating towel racks may gain extra inches that help a senior to turn around and access the entirety of the bathroom without getting tripped up.

For More Bathroom Safety Tips…

Interested in learning more about rearranging, updating – or remodeling – to create a safer, senior-friendly bathroom space? Schedule a consultation with a local home care agency. The consultations are free – no-obligation – and provide a wealth of information to help seniors age more independently in place.

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