Slippery floors and bathtubs, low toilet seats, and few dependable things to hold onto make the bathroom a dangerous place for seniors. A few simple changes can help reduce the risk of injury, making the bathroom a safer place for people with mobility and balance issues. Toilet safety rails and grab bars are some of the ways you can minimize the risk of slipping or falling when designing a senior-friendly bathroom. Other reasons that may contribute to these falls include poor eyesight, reduced mobility, and poor muscle coordination. To help you solve this issue, we narrowed down a few features you need to consider in elderly bathrooms.
- Bathroom Safety Rails and Grab Bars
Installing grab bars that are attached to the wall or toilet can help seniors who have difficulties sitting down or rising from the toilet. If you cannot find a raised toilet seat, you can compensate it by installing grab bars that provide support for the seniors. A raised toilet seat with handles on the sides reduces the distance covered when lowering yourself on the toilet. Safety rails can be installed adjacent to the bathtubs, showers, and cabinetry for maximum support.
- Non-slip Mats
The process of getting in and out of the shower or tub increases the risks of elders slipping and falling. Having a non-slip rug or mat on the floor when stepping out of the shower minimizes the risk of falls as it makes an elder feel more stable. If you are constructing a new bathroom, consider floor tiles with rough patterned texture, as it minimizes the risk associated with slippery surfaces.
- Transfer Bench
A transfer bench is also known as a bath bench and it is used to eliminate the risk of slipping when stepping in and out of the tub. It allows a senior to get in the tub by sitting down on the part of the bench outside before sliding over into the tub. A grab bar is also used to help elders with poor balance or those who have trouble transitioning in and out of the bathtub. Seniors who have poor balance when showering might need a shower chair to provide stability and a place to rest as they go about their cleaning routine.
- Safety Lighting
Seniors with poor visibility may find it difficult to maneuver when they are in the bathroom. The brightness needs to be adjusted in a way that can accommodate elderly conditions. It is also a good idea to install the light switches within reach so that they can have an easy time when they want to take a bath. You can also invest in automatic lighting that turns on every time it detects movement.
- Put Essential Items within Reach
Seniors need to reach their toiletry items when in the bathtub or shower without bending or stretching. These strenuous activities can sometimes lead to falls or aching joints. A shower caddy installed at arm’s height can make it easier to access essential items such as soap or shampoos. If you want to make the bathroom more accessible, consider mounted dispensers as they are cost friendly and easy to install. They can be refilled easily with more product so that seniors do not have to worry about asking for basic items in the middle of their bath.
- Bathroom Sink Accessibility
A sink mounted on the wall with nothing underneath is ideal for both seated and standing users. It needs to be designed in a way that provides enough knee space for people on wheelchairs. Install single-handle faucets that can be turned on and off easily without twisting or grabbing. You can also add a tilt mirror or an extra-long mirror that can be accessed by everyone.
Other Bathroom Access and Safety Features
When thinking about bathroom safety for elderly, it is important to increase the size of the doorway to accommodate seniors moving on wheelchairs. Instead of swinging inward, the bathroom door needs to be installed to swing outward to create enough space inside the bathroom. Loose mats can be a tripping hazard or an obstacle for people in a wheelchair. Consider the best location for storing toothbrush holders, paper dispensers, robe hooks, and shower shelves.
Any design that is incorporated in an accessible bathroom needs to minimize the risk of falling and other issues that might compromise the safety of seniors. Although bathroom safety for seniors is an essential factor to consider in bathrooms, it does not mean that space needs to be dull. Improve the décor with stylish features that make the bathroom lively but safe for the elderly.