A bathroom can be a dangerous place to maneuver for older individuals or people with limited mobility. The elderly are prone to injuries and accidental falls while using these facilities because of their slippery nature. The good news is that you can implement preventative measures while providing dignity and independence for the elderly. Making some simple adjustments to a senior’s bathroom can minimize the risk of injuries or falls when performing simple tasks such as bathing. It also offers a sense of comfort and safety for older adults who live alone or are receiving in-home senior care.
Why Bathrooms are Dangerous for the Elderly
Slippery surfaces like sides and bottoms of the bathtub pose a high risk of injury. Furthermore, it can be physically challenging for the elderly to get in and out of the tub, as they experience muscle pains because of the strenuous exercise. These actions could be more complicated for people suffering from arthritis or problems with knees, hips or back. As people age, their ability to balance while bathing reduces, which increases the need for installing support aids. If you want to provide your loved one with peace of mind and a sense of dignity, consider implementing the following bathroom safety tips.
Senior Bathroom Safety Tips
Ample Lighting and Door Changes
Poor lighting leads to poor visibility, which can result in sudden falls. You can improve the safety of a bathroom by doing simple changes on the door locks and the room’s lighting. The path leading to the bathroom needs to be well lit, and the bathroom should have adequate lighting. It is also essential to consider how the door swings when being open or closed. An outward-swinging door is the best option for emergencies, as it gives caregivers easy accessibility in case the senior falls against the door.
Installing Grab Bars
Grab bars offer you with support when getting in and out of the shower while preventing accidental injuries as you can hold them to prevent falls. Safety rails and grab bars can be useful, especially when installed near the toilet, as well as the shower or tub. They need to be anchored well-enough to support an adult’s weight.
Put Items Within Reach
Seniors should have their clothing and towels within reach to avoid stretching out, which can cause accidents or falls. They should be placed in such a way that the elderly does not have to stretch or bend. This includes cleaning items such as shampoo and other toiletry items. The modern toilets and showers for accessible bathrooms are designed with a partitioning for placing soap, toothpaste, and paper. This helps eliminate unnecessary standing, stretching and the potential risk of accidents that come with the strenuous exercises. Mounted dispensers are also easy to install and can be easily refilled with more product when empty.
Install a Walk-In-Bathtub
If you prefer having a bathtub instead of a shower for the elderly, then you should consider buying a walk-in-bathtub. It is a great option for seniors as it minimizes the risk of falling when getting in or out of the bathtub. These tubs are designed with doors that eliminate the hassle of climbing over the edge of a traditional bathtub. Therefore, seniors just have to walk in freely. Although a walk-in-bathtub is quite expensive to buy, it is worth the investment as it helps seniors have peace of mind when taking a bath.
A Raised Toilet Seat With Arms
Seniors who experience difficulties lowering themselves onto the seat of a traditional toilet may benefit significantly from a raised toilet with arms. The modern designs come with grab bars to reduce the risk of a fall and provide further balance assistance. Adding extra grip bars on the wall can provide the elderly with something to hold onto if they slip.
Invest in a Good Transfer Bench or Shower Chair
A shower chair is a great investment especially for seniors who have difficulty staying balanced while bathing or standing. Not only do they provide stability for safe showering, but also a place to rest comfortably during the cleaning exercise. A chair with rubber tips on its legs will prevent the chair from sliding as it offers a non-slip grip. People who have difficulties getting in and out of a shower might do well with a bathtub transfer bench. It usually starts outside the tub and you can slide the seat gradually into the shower when you sit on it.
Add Non-Skid Surfaces
You can use rough-textured patterned tiles for the bathroom as they reduce the risk of slipping when getting out of the shower. Adding non-slip mats on different entry or exit points of the bathroom will be useful in providing extra grip on the feet of the seniors as they go about their cleaning. Instead of a woolen mat, consider rugs with rubber backing as they can dry easily and prevent the growth of mold.
Lower the Water Temperature
The hot water system thermostat should have a temperature that is slightly lower than normal. Skin grows thinner with age, meaning that elders are more likely to notice that the water is too hot for a shower. Furthermore, bath water can cause serious burns if the temperatures in hot water tanks have not been adjusted. The recommended water temperature should be below 120°F (49°C). You can also check the temperature using a bathtub thermometer to prevent unnecessary burns from the very hot water.
It is a good idea to start thinking more about safety at home as you or your loved ones continue to age. Most people would like to have the peace of mind that they can perform simple tasks such as going into the bathroom without any harm. The bathroom safety tips and solutions for the elderly discussed above are essential in transforming a bathroom into a senior-friendly space. Consider asking a professional home care provider for advice to ensure all preventative measures have been considered. Whatever fixtures or fittings you install in an accessible bathroom, make sure it creates a safe environment where accidents are less likely to occur.