Bathroom safety isn’t something that is taken seriously until someone has an accident and suffers injury. However, accidents happen in the bathroom more often than we think: up to 80% of falls in the home happen in the bathroom. In fact, according to research by the CDC, persons aged 75 to 85 are twice as likely to suffer an injury in the bathroom; the risk becomes four times higher for those over 85.
These statistics make bathroom safety paramount — it’s one of the places that needs extra attention when it comes to taking care of seniors at home. Bathrooms have unforgiving, slippery surfaces that are difficult to maneuver, especially for individuals with poor leg strength and balance.
A complete remodeling of your bathroom isn’t necessary, however. Simple, affordable accessories can help to quickly improve bathroom safety.
- Raised toilet seats
Seniors may find it difficult to lower themselves onto the commode and get back up to a standing position. Raised toilet seats can help remedy this issue by reducing the distance of squatting required, which can relieve the extra pressure put on the joints.
Usually, raised toilet seats have a minimum of 2 inches and a maximum of 6 inches of elevation. Consider the height of your toilet seat cushion, if you’re planning to use one, as well as the weight capacity before deciding whether to get a raised toilet seat.
Check with your homecare product supplier regarding additional features such as locking mechanisms and removable armrests for additional comfort and safety.
- Shower chairs or bath benches
Standing for prolonged periods can also be a challenge for the elderly and, if paired with a slippery bathroom floor, might even cause loss of balance. Using a shower chair or bath bench helps eliminate this concern. With hand-held showers and easy-to-reach soap and shampoo dispensers, seniors can remain seated for the whole duration of the bath.
Rubber feet are a must for shower chairs. Other helpful options include collapsible backs or arms, and adjustable heights.
- Bath lifts
When it comes to bathing, a bath lift can help with the process of sitting in and standing up from the tub. It also provides assistance when getting into the tub, as the lift’s flaps rest on the edge of the tub to enable the user to transfer onto the seat of the lift, eliminating the need to step over the edge of the tub.
Some bath lifts get to as low as 2 inches from the bathtub floor, which can be appealing to those who really want to submerge themselves into the bath.
- Non-slip mats
Non-slip mats in the bathroom can benefit everyone, especially seniors. Critical places to install non-slip mats include the floor of the shower and bathtub. You may also want to place non-slip rugs on the floor to reduce slipping on wet tiles.
For added bathroom safety, you can attach non-slip adhesive strips on the edges of your sink and bath tub. The strips help guard against hand-slippage in the event the surface is used for support or to regain balance.
- Grab bars
Sometimes, when an accident happens in the bathroom, towel bars or toilet paper holders are grabbed to regain balance. However, these items are not made to support heavy weights and may even cause further harm.
Installing grab bars in easy-to-reach places can provide extra support for the elderly. They should be bolted on for security, and have high contrast from the tiles or paint in the bathroom for easier visibility. You can also add a layer of non-slip adhesive tape on the grab bar to improve the grip.
The most critical places to install grab bars are within the shower stall and near the bathtub. Grab bars can also be placed on the walls beside and behind a toilet to assist in standing up and sitting down. However, you can observe the places that the senior holds onto when using the bathroom and install grab bars as needed.
Bath accessories are not to change one’s behavior, but to promote safer behavior. These tool are not just for seniors, but can also be used by caregivers who take care of them as to ensure that both parties are safe when using the bathroom.