10 Bathroom Safety Ideas for the Elderly
According to the National Council on Aging, one in four seniors falls each year, making it the most common cause of fatal injury in America. And there is no area of your house more distressing than your bathroom, with its slick tiled flooring and its endless source of moisture. Of course, while you want your loved ones to be safe, they also want their independence, which is why you need to find the middle ground between everyone’s happiness. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Investigate the Lighting
As one gets older, two potentially hazardous biological changes can gradually take place. Firstly, your eyesight may begin to naturally deteriorate, and secondly, the desire to urinate could start occurring more frequently. This means that bathroom visibility is one of your primary concerns. Ensure the room is sufficiently bright while considering motion LED nightlights to illuminate the dark path from bedroom to toilet.
2. Install Ample Grab Bars
When it comes to grab bars, the more the merrier. Ask a professional to install as many as possible, concentrating on high-risk areas like the shower, tub, and toilet. This will provide your loved ones with the additional freedom to lower and lift themselves all around the bathroom. It is also a clever idea to replace towel racks with grab bars as they can be used for both. Finally, ensure that these railings are painted a different color than the walls, making them quicker to identify in desperate times.
3. Use Non-Slip Shower Mats
As the water meets the smooth surface of the shower floor, you are left with a slippery accident just waiting to happen, hence why it is essential for any household to utilize a non-slip shower mat. This will not only prevent unpleasant falls but will also be a welcoming comfort for the feet and a stylish addition to the overall shower aesthetic.
4. Invest in a Shower Chair
A clever method of reducing the chances of a tumble is to avoid standing up in the first place. When it comes to the shower, an individual may be safest if they stay seated in a chair, allowing them to rest while washing without the risk of losing their balance.
5. Keep an Eye on Water Temperatures
The skin tends to thin as the body ages, making it more susceptible to temperature burns. If you are a caregiver, then it is imperative that you start all bathing rituals with lukewarm water first, and then slowly build towards the ideal heat, maintaining careful communication while you do so. Once you’ve reached their preferred warmth, introduce a thermometer and keep a record of the optimal temperature for next time.
6. Everything Should be Easy to Reach
Placing useful products on high shelves or in floor cupboards is obviously not a very senior-friendly approach to bathroom organization. Instead, all items should be reachable and on eye level. Consider installing soap dispensers in the shower too, as this minimizes the chance of dropped items and the clutter of loose containers.
7. Raise the Toilet Seat
For those who suffer from joint inflammation or reduced mobility, it may be a good idea for the toilet to rise to meet them. Purchase a raised seat measured to their exact height, as this will shorten the journey down and lessen the worry of a misjudged landing. Once again, grip bars are essential to this safety procedure.
8. Remove Any Obstructions
Is there a clear path from point A to point B to point C? If not, then this bathroom is a hazardous environment, and everything needs to be reevaluated. Get rid of droopy cords, empty bottles, dangerous electrical appliances, and anything else that isn’t essential to the room. A bathroom rug is a great idea to avoid slippery tiles, but if it isn’t fixed down, then it becomes a threat too. Finally, the area must be a puddle-free zone at all times!
9. General Door Policies
Locked doors are beneficial for privacy but can also work as fatal barricades in emergency situations. Remove the locks and ensure all doors open outwards just in case a fallen object is blocking its pathway. In regards to the shower door, this needs to be shatterproof and preferably not completely see-through, as transparency can cause confusion for tired eyes.
10. Connect a Medical Alert System
Finally, if the reality of a bathroom fall is disrupting your sleep at night, there is no greater product that can bring peace of mind quite like a medical alert system. With the easy tug of a cord, an emergency contact will be alerted to check on your loved one immediately, which could make the difference between a major and a minor incident.