Home safety is extremely important for seniors that have chosen to age in place, to help improve comfort and security, while preventing falls and other accidents. The bathroom is one of the most hazardous rooms in the house for older adults, due to slippery surface areas, awkward movements in tight spaces, sharp objects, and pointy corners.
A high number of seniors experience falls in the bathroom every year that result in serious injury and hospitalization. The majority of these falls happen due to slipping in the bathtub or shower, or when getting in or out of them. Many older adults also sustain bathroom injuries when standing up or sitting down to use the toilet. The average person uses the toilet 7 times a day, and that number tends to be higher for seniors, which makes the bathroom a critical area to secure for optimal home safety.
Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors
There are several practical tips and suggestions that can be useful to help secure the washroom area and prevent injury.
Some of the most beneficial tips, include:
- Remove trip hazards
- Increase surface traction
- Install grab bars
- Install a transfer bench
- Use a shower chair
- Automatic lights
- Exercise caution
- Use a medical alert system
One of the major reasons injuries happen in the bathroom is excess clutter and poor organization. It helps to get rid of any unnecessary objects on floors and counter surfaces. Ensure all bathroom items and toiletries have a suitable place where they can be kept at all times. This helps prevent accidents with razors or other sharp objects left out on counter tops.
Remove Trip Hazards
Another way to improve organization and declutter is to remove any potential trip hazards from floors and shower areas. This includes rugs, floor mats, and conventional bathmats. Non-slip mats can be used in front of the shower or tub, and non-slips decals can be applied to existing flooring for increased traction.
Increase Surface Traction
In addition to using non-slip mats and decals on tile floors, it is also essential to have maximum surface traction inside the tub or shower. There are many effective options for optimizing shower traction, like anti-slip mats and adhesive treads. Grab bars in the shower are also recommended for optimal safety.
Install Grab Bars
The installation of grab bars is one of the best preventative measures that can be taken for bathroom safety. Grab bars in the shower area and around the toilet can be very effective in preventing injury. The transition in and out of the shower and on and off the toilet is strenuous for older adults with limited mobility. There are several grab bar options to address this concern.
Toilet safety frames with arms are easy to install and very effective for getting on off the toilet with minimal strain. Floor to ceiling poles with grab bars can also be installed in between the shower and toilet for smoother transitions. Of course, wall grab bars are also a great option in the shower or next to the toilet.
Another option to ease the transition in and out of the shower is to install a transfer bench. This is great option for bathrooms with tubs, so seniors don’t have to lift their leg over the side to get in or out.
For older adults with balance and stability issues, a shower chair can be an excellent option to reduce stress and strain, and prevent falls in the shower.
Automatic night lights can help reduce falls when a trip to the bathroom is needed in the middle of the night. Ensuring bathrooms are well lit at all times is a good safety precaution.
Next to slip and fall accidents, over exertion is the next major factor for injury in the bathroom. The exertion of getting up too fast off the toilet can cause dizziness, and lead to a fall. Due to the constrained space in bathrooms, that fall could result in severe head injury when hitting a cabinet or counter corner on the way down. Grab bars are perfect for reducing exertion and strain.
Then there is also the issue of hot water burns in the shower. It is a good idea to let the water run, and test it before getting the shower. This helps prevent the shock of hot water temperatures that can result in sudden reactions leading to falls.
Medical Alert System
To cover all bases and provide optimal safety, it is beneficial to have a medical alert system in place for when preventative measures fail. This ensures that seniors can get assistance day or night in case of emergency.