The bathroom is often cited as the most dangerous room in the house for senior citizens or those with select disabilities. With smooth tile floors, sloped tub and shower floors that are often covered with water by design, this leads to countless slips and falls, leading to difficult (and often embarrassing) situations for families.
The market has responded, however, and the market is full of helpful safety devices to help give our elderly loved ones the most autonomy possible while staying safe. In this guide we’ll go over the latest and greatest in safety features to help keep everyone in your family safe.
Senior-Friendly Bathroom Hardware
According to the National Council on Aging, an older adult is sent to the emergency room with a fall-related injury every 11 seconds in the US. Any fall in the house can be a serious situation, but falls in the bathroom are much more likely to cause serious injury and even be fatal.
A few well-placed pieces of easy-to-install hardware can make all the difference in preventing these accidents from happening in the first place. Oftentimes the issue isn’t just about the slippery surfaces themselves, but the lack of sturdy things to grab onto. A flimsy towel rack or shower curtain rod can be easily pulled from the wall and make a fall worse than if nothing were there at all.
For the Shower and Bathtub:
So many of these accidents come from just attempting to get in and out of the tub or shower. Unfortunately with high tub walls and slippery surfaces, even able-bodied people can have a bad accident this way if they’re not careful.
Here are a few helpful options that can go a long way in preventing these issues:
Grab bars: These can be installed in the shower or bath to give a handhold when getting in and out of the bath or shower. Preferably these would be bolted into place, but there are some very strong suction cup options with impressive weight ratings.
Tension poles: Similar to grab bars, these make for a strong handhold for getting in and out of the bath, but with the versatility to be placed almost anywhere you need. They span from the floor to the ceiling and can be helpful aids in getting up from the toilet as well.
Shower chair: Shower chairs are great for those with balance issues or otherwise pose a fall risk when standing on such slippery surfaces. This allows them to safely sit down to bath themselves, and even feature rubber feet underneath to prevent the chair itself from sliding.
Bathtub transfer bench: These are similar to the shower chair, but feature either a longer bench that extends over the tub or a sliding seat to move across from next to the tub or on the toilet to the tub. This eliminates the need to step over the tub wall to get in and out, eliminating another common fall risk.
Non-slip mats: There are plenty of options out there for rubber non-slip mats that greatly reduce the risk of slipping on wet tile or the slick floors of the shower and tub. These are a great help around the toilet and sink as well.
For the Toilet and Sink:
In addition to the bath and shower, the rest of the bathroom tile can become slick with moisture and be a major contribution to the fall risk factor of the bathroom. To help here you can look into a few of the following:
A raised toilet seat: As we get on in age or are suffering from injuries that effect our mobility, lowering ourselves down on and getting up from the toilet can not only be a challenge but pose a major fall risk as well. You can either replace your toilet with an ADA approved height model or add a riser that can be attached to the toilet to bring the seat up.
Additional grab bars: Grab bars installed near the toilet can be equally effective here in aiding people in getting up and down off the toilet as well as in the shower/tub. If no walls are around, the vertical tension poles can be a huge help here — and have the added advantage of being portable to suit different needs when the situation calls for a handle where other options aren’t feasible.
Sinks themselves don’t pose as high of a risk as other areas of the bathroom, but modifications can be made to the faucet in order to further reduce this risk. Certain designs of faucet can be more difficult for senior citizens to turn, especially when suffering from arthritis, but these can be replaced with ADA-approved designs to help out with that.
Make Toiletries More Accessible:
Providing a basis for good bathroom safety doesn’t stop at hardware to help with balancing, accessibility to essential toiletries and other supplies is important to keep in mind. Being able to reach everything you need within easy arm’s reach is another area of concern, such as:
Wall-mounted shower caddy: A shower caddy that is mounted at arm’s reach while not going far above shoulder height is a huge step in aiding shower safety. Often times shower designs will only allow for things like shampoo, conditioner, and soap to be stored above the head or require bending over to reach.
Wall-mounted dispensers: Taking the concept of a shower caddy to the next level, shampoo, soap, and conditioner dispensers eliminate the possibility of dropping slippery bottles. Plus they’re easy to refill, and require no other thought or maintenance beyond that.
Getting Help When You Need It:
While installing fall-preventing hardware is a great first step towards safe autonomy for the elderly and otherwise impaired, it’s impossible to eliminate all possible accidents. That’s where quick and easy emergency dispatch support comes in.
Being prepared for accidents also means coming up with a plan in case the worst does happen, and laying out an easy path for reaching easy help just in case. With the Rescu app, emergency medical, fire, and police dispatch is just two taps away. Help is sent immediately without needing to discuss the nature of the emergency with emergency dispatchers, instead sending help your way faster than possible with dialing 911 alone.
Try out the Rescu app available for iOS and Android and prepare yourself for any emergency today!