For seniors, the bathroom can be one of the most dangerous places in the home. According to the National Council on Aging, every 11 seconds an older adult is sent to the emergency room for a fall-related injury. While falls in the home can result in smaller injuries, falls in the bathroom can be fatal. Whether you are a caretaker or have senior friends and/or family, prioritizing bathroom safety for the elderly will help to keep your loved ones out of harm’s way.
This guide will give you all the essential information you will need to make any senior’s bathroom safer.
Install Senior-Friendly Bathroom Hardware
What makes a bathroom dangerous for seniors is the susceptibility to falling. Since the surfaces in a bathroom can easily get wet, and seniors may have mobility and balance issues, injuries from slipping and falling are more common than other bathroom incidents.
The best way to make a bathroom slip-proof for your older loved ones is to install special hardware that they can easily grab onto when moving around. Bathroom safety hardware can be placed in the shower, bathtub, toilet, and sink to ensure your loved one’s safety.
For the Shower & Bathtub
When it comes to taking a shower or a bath, seniors may face challenges getting in and out of the stall or simply standing to shower. Standard showers and bathtubs typically do not have anything in place to assist them when showering or bathing, which can result in injuries from falling.
To make the shower and/or bathtub more safe for your elderly loved ones, consider looking into:
- Grab bars: Grab bars can be installed in the shower or bath for seniors to grab onto when getting in and out of the bath or shower. They need to be placed in easy to reach areas and preferably bolted to the walls, rather than suction cupped, to ensure they don’t come loose when grabbed.
- Tension poles: Tension poles are similar to grab bars, but they reach from the floor to the ceiling. They are typically used when grab bars aren’t suitable for the shower or tub.
- A shower chair: Shower chairs are great for seniors that have a hard time balancing while showering. It allows for them to safely sit down in the shower instead of trying to stand. The best shower chairs have rubber tips on the legs that prevent the chair from sliding.
- A bathtub transfer bench: Like shower chairs, a bathtub transfer bench helps those who have a hard time getting in and out of the bath. The bench extends outside of the bathtub and when sat on, the seat gradually slides into the bath.
When considering bathroom safety for the elderly, the shower and/or bathtub floors also should be top of mind. Putting down non-slips mats will minimize the risks of falling.
For the Toilet & Sink
In addition to the shower and bathtub, toilets can also be modified for the elderly’s safety. Seniors may have a tough time getting down to sit on a toilet seat, which can result in a loss of balance and a fall injury.
To make toilets more safe for the elderly, you can look into:
- A raised toilet seat: Raised toilet seats make it much easier for the elderly to sit down and go to the bathroom. They don’t have to lower themselves too far down and risk falling. You can either replace your standard toilet with an ADA-approved raised toilet or purchase a riser that can be attached to the existing toilet.
- Additional grab bars: Not only can grab bars be used in the shower and bathtub to help with getting in and out, but they can also be used near the toilet to assist seniors getting up and down on the toilet seat.
While sinks do not pose as high of a risk of falling for the elderly as showers, bathtubs, and toilets, modifications can be made to the faucet to reduce the risk of them losing their balance when turning the faucet on. Some faucets can be harder to turn for seniors that have arthritic hands, but they can easily be replaced by ADA-compliant faucets that are more senior-friendly.
Make Toiletries Easily Accessible
Bathroom safety for the elderly doesn’t stop at installing hardware to help with balancing. You have to take other things into account that can affect their personal safety, such as having their bathroom essentials in easily accessible places. Seniors should be able to grab their toiletries with ease, without having to stretch or bend too much.
To make your elderly loved ones essentials more easily accessible, consider looking into:
- A wall-mounted shower caddy: With a shower caddy that’s wall-mounted at arm’s length, seniors can easily grab their shampoo, conditioner, etc. without having to bend over or reach for what they need — avoiding a potential fall.
- Wall-mounted dispensers: Utilizing wall-mounted dispensers allows for the elderly to dispense their essentials with ease and avoids the chance of them dropping slippery bottles or soaps. It also makes for easy refills!
Lean on Rescu for Any Bathroom Emergencies
When considering home safety for the elderly, the bathroom is the best place to start. While installing the necessary hardware and ensuring that essentials are easily accessible will significantly reduce the risks of injury or even death of an older loved one, accidents do happen.
To be prepared for any bathroom emergency, make sure that you and/or your senior relative has the Rescu app downloaded to request the fastest possible emergency help. With just 2 taps on your phone, help is sent immediately without even having to talk on the phone, while also bypassing the traditional 9-1-1 queue.
Download Rescu today to be prepared for any emergency.