According to the National Council on Aging, one in four seniors (aged 65 and up) falls each year, making it the leading cause of fatal injury in America. And when considering the wet conditions of the bathroom, it isn’t much surprise that this area has been called the most dangerous room of them all.
Of course, simply worrying about the safety of yourself or a loved one doesn’t do much good; take action instead with these 10 steps:
1. Sufficient Lighting
As you age, your eyesight tends to decline, which means everyone needs as much help as they can to see the world clearly. Ensure the bathroom lighting is bright, consistent, and accessible. You might even consider motion-activated LED nightlights to avoid falls during those sleepy visits.
You can never have too much help with maintaining your balance or supporting your weight as you stand up, hence why you should install handrails and grab bars in places like the shower, by the tub, and next to the toilet. You should also change all towel racks into handrails as they can be used for both, and consider getting the equipment installed by a professional to ensure the sturdiest fixture possible.
3. The Shower Itself
One of the most worrisome areas of the bathroom is the shower due to its continuous stream of water coating the already slick flooring. Thankfully, there are multiple shower safety measures you can take, including using a comfortable waterproof shower chair, a hand-held shower head, and a textured shower mat, all of which are proven to reduce the chances of slipping.
4. Easy Access to Everything
Forget about high shelves or floor cupboards – opt for keeping essential items at a reachable eye level in the bathroom and shower. Not only is this easier and safer, but you’ll go about your morning and nighttime routines quicker than ever. In the shower, especially, consider doing away with countless slippery bottles and instead installing a toiletry dispenser.
5. Raise the Toilet Seat
Don’t just settle for a standard toilet installation, invest in a custom raised toilet seat with side rails. This modification is particularly important for those who have mobility or joint issues, as the act of sitting and standing up from the toilet requires extra strength, coordination, and balance. A toilet seat riser simply raises the commode seat up a few inches, making it easier and safer to use the restroom.
6. Bathroom Mats
When the liquid from your shower or bath inevitably meets your tiled flooring, the entire room becomes a disaster just waiting to happen. What you need to do is place a layer of protection between your feet and these slippery surfaces, which is where a non-slip mat comes in, preventing falls by creating traction. Stick with silicone and rubber mats that are cushy on the feet but also don’t have corners that can easily get caught on the foot.
7. Remove Any Clutter
It is important to develop a habit of clearing up any trip hazards from the bathroom. This includes rugs which aren’t stuck down, boxes, paper, cords, dirty clothes, or empty bottles in the shower, as the simple process of removing these could be potentially life-saving. As a rule, there should always be a clear walking path from one side of the bathroom to the other.
8. Dry Up Any Spillages
You can throw down as many bathroom mats and eradicate as much clutter as you want, but liquid will always find a way to reach the floor and cause potential harm. Avoid this concern and keep a spare towel on hand to soak up any water immediately, especially after a shower or if you’ve just cleaned the floors.
9. Be Cautious About Water Temperatures
If you are a caregiver, it is extremely important that you communicate with your loved one about water temperatures when they bathe. Start out cool and then work your way up rather than running the risk of any unnecessary burns. Once you’ve established their preferred conditions, purchase a thermometer or anti-scald controls to maintain this constant and safe temperature for every bath.
10. Medical Alert Systems
Finally, in the case of a fall, an alert cord should be reachable from the lowest point of the bathroom at all times. With one simple tug, an emergency contact will be notified, and they can rush over to check on the situation as quickly as possible, providing peace of mind to everyone involved.
This guest post was submitted by ViveHealth to promote safety at home for seniors.
If you would like more information on other resources for seniors, visit our Caregiving Resources page with Self Care, Agencies and Helpful Articles.