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Bathroom Safety for Seniors: Easy Ways To Make A Bathroom Accessible and Safe

Bathroom Safety for Seniors: Easy Ways To Make A Bathroom Accessible and Safe

May 20th 2024

Make Your Bathroom Safe for the Elderly At Home

The bathroom is one of the most private areas in the home, and also one of the most dangerous for the elderly. It is very common for bathroom floors to become slippery. This leads to fall hazards that are especially harmful due to so many objects around. A sink, a toilet seat, or a bathtub could cause potentially fatal injuries if someone were to fall hard on them.

The Main Reason for Medical Care Bracelet Use

Medical care bracelets are used to call emergency services, and falls are the most common uses for them. A fall can be caused by more than just a slippery floor. Many elders find it difficult to stand for long, even for things they've done all their life. Others have problems standing back up. Another problem is toiletries that are now too far away for the elder's range of motion. One reach too far and they may instead have to reach for their medical alert bracelet instead of the shampoo.

Try These Easy Steps to Make a Bathroom Accessible and Safe for Seniors

elderly man in shower

It's really easy, and important, to make a bathroom safe for seniors. Important because one in three seniors over the age of 65 will experience at least one fall annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the home for the elderly. Slick floors, small spaces, sharp edges and few things to grasp make mobility difficult and increase chances for dangerous falls.

Unable to complete everyday tasks with the same mobility they once had, many senior homeowners are left with unsafe measures to prevent falling in the bathroom. These may include insufficiently secured towel racks that could fall when gripped for support, shower chairs that are not slip resistant and sliding shower doors that could move unexpectedly when entering and exiting the tub.

We all want seniors to live safely and comfortably in every part of their homes. It's important that senior homeowners are aware of the challenges independent living can present and take the appropriate precautions, especially in the bathroom where most falls occur. These easy ideas can help increase bathroom safety for seniors and give everyone in the family increased peace of mind.

Try these helpful ideas to create a safe, accessible bathroom that will look great for years to come.

There are several elderly care safety items that you can install in a bathroom to make things safer for seniors. Just a few of these improvements can dramatically make the quality of life of your loved one higher.

  • First, have a medical alert bracelet. No safety feature is foolproof. Make sure that your elder can get care in an emergency by having access to a medical alert system, especially if they live alone. This small piece of equipment could save your loved one's life.
  • Keep a medical alert button by the toilet. Most slips and falls occur in the bathroom. Keeping an extra medical alert button near the toilet is a smart idea so they can summon help right away.
  • Ask your loved one what problems they have moving around in the bathroom, and find features to address them. You may be surprised to find out what they consider to be a challenge. If they are resistant to changes, try to demonstrate how the new features can help. Clear demonstrations can do far more than insistence.
  • Install anchor grab bars and non-skid mats inside the shower area. Test these to see if they work after installing. Fake a fall and grab hard onto the bar to make sure it will hold.
  • Have a shower stool installed. If they have trouble moving in the shower, put in a shower stool so they can sit and clean themselves. Elderly care stores carry theseReplace the shower head to one with a long hose. This can reduce the amount of movement needed in the shower and prevent a fall.
  • Make sure that the hot and cold faucets are labeled very clearly. It can take one wrong twist to cause a nasty burn.
  • Try a taller toilet. Standard toilets have a bowl height of about 15 inches, but many manufacturers have recently introduced models that are an inch and a half higher. These taller commodes make sitting down and getting back up less stressful on the body. Bring high style and performance as well as comfort to your bathroom by upgrading to a luxury toilet. Many manufacturers offer several elegant "Right Height" toilets in sleek, easy to clean, one-piece styles. Consider getting a raised toilet seat or a toilet lift if they have trouble sitting up from low positions.
  • Install night lights along the route to the bathroom and in the bathroom itself.
  • Consider getting textured tile flooring if you have tile or linoleum installed.
  • Install non-skid mats. If there are any rugs that slip or bunch when walked on, these need to be replaced with non-skid mats.
  • Have a stool nearby. If they have trouble sitting down low or standing up for long, have a stool nearby so they can sit while using the sink.
  • Think about accessible storage. Keep bathing and grooming accessories neatly stowed out of the way to reduce trips and falls, and to keep them clear of wheelchairs. Accessibility and functionality are essential when planning for convenient storage options in the bathroom.
  • Install a bidet. If they are unable to wipe themselves completely, install a bidet to assist. 
  • Provide a spa-like walk-in tub. Why shouldn't Mom have her own home spa? The greatest generation is also the "bathing generation." Boomers' parents are more likely to benefit from replacing an old, under-used bathtub with one of today's walk-in tubs. Installing a walk-in bathtub or shower system with a built-in seat brings back a measure of independence in self-care. Many walk-in tubs are designed to fit perfectly in the space of a conventional tub for easy installation and are now available with luxurious special features. Some even have a smart drain option that removes water in less than two minutes, so there is no need for a long, cold wait for the tub to drain before opening the door to exit the bath. Other walk-in bathtubs are available with advanced features like whirlpools and combo massage systems, so bathing can be safer and more enjoyable.
  • Replace an unused bathtub with a walk-in shower. Holding on to the ability to bathe independently is key to aging gracefully and with dignity. The ubiquitous tub/shower unit in so many homes may be uncomfortably high for the elderly and disabled to step over, and too low to sit down into for bathing. American Standard has a unique low-cost solution with its walk-in seated shower that features a wide, contoured, full-sized seating area with recessed front to make standing or sitting while showering comfortable and easy. This unit has a low 3-inch threshold for easy access in and out, plus a built-in wrap-around grab bar for added safety.
  • Make it easy on the eyes. High-gloss paints and tiles can produce an uncomfortable glare, so introduce matte finishes for better visibility. Choosing wall and floor colors or patterns that contrast is another great way to increase visual perception of space and help older adults feel more confident as they move about the room.

A study by the Home Safety Council found that falls are the leading cause of home injury-related deaths among older adults. Making simple home installations can make day-to-day living for seniors easier, reduce their risk of falling and give peace of mind to those close to them. Many of these bathroom upgrades can be installed by most anyone and are recommended for overall safety and optimal mobility for seniors.

Living independently at home is a goal for most seniors and their families, so use these ideas on how to make a bathroom safe for seniors both at their home, and at yours. Creating an accessible bathroom is an easy, and affordable, way to help seniors live independently at home. 

By using these tips, you can help your loved one stay independent for longer and give them a higher quality of life. Do consider signing up with a medical alert system as well in case of an emergency.