Bathroom Safety for Seniors | SYNERGY HomeCare

Bathroom Safety for Seniors

Bathroom Safety for Seniors.

elderly hand on bathroom grab bar

Two simple reasons why your bathroom is a potential danger zone
One, it makes sense—bathrooms are small spaces with lots of hard surfaces such as tile floors and walls, and corners. And the second reason that most neglect to consider as a potential safety issue in the small but dangerous room—sitting down and standing up, whether on the shower or the toilet, can cause changes in blood pressure that results in dizziness and unsteadiness.  Simple modifications address each reason.

Why is bathroom safety important for your elderly parent?
According to a CDC study, the most hazardous bathroom activities include bathing, showering, or getting out of the tub or shower. Falling caused nearly 80% of these injuries.

Seniors who have mobility and balance issues are especially susceptible to bathroom injuries. According to the National Council on Aging, for seniors, the most common bathroom hazards include:

  • Slippery shower stalls, bathtubs, and floors
  • Shower chairs that are not slip-resistant
  • Low toilet seats
  • Insufficiently secured towel racks or grab bars

What can you do to make your bathroom safer?
There are so many things you can do to help safety-proof your or your elderly parent’s bathroom. There are hundreds of home safety products for the elderly. Typically, safety-related changes are budget-driven. You can have a walk-in tub installed for thousands of dollars or opt for solutions that are effective but won’t shrink your wallet. The choices are yours to make.

Bathroom safety tips that won’t break the bank
but may break a fall

Test water temperature
Without testing the bath or shower water, seniors can be startled by dangerously hot water, potentially causing a sudden movement or jerk reflex that could result in a fall.  

There are two low cost and easy-to-install solutions beyond having a senior’s caregiver test the water temperature for them. One is LED lights that translate the water temperature into colors. Secondly, flexible, hand-held shower wands make it easier for seniors to test the water temperature without dipping a toe into the tub or stepping into the shower.

senior safety bathroom with shower chair grab bars and toiletShower chairs
The above-mentioned hand-held shower wand works beautifully in tandem with the safety of a tub or shower chair.

A tub chair can be placed inside the tub or the shower for the senior to transfer to safely. A chair with a handle, suction legs, and a backrest will increase the safety of a loved one while in the tub. Padded chairs offer the most comfort and reduce the propensity of sliding or slipping. If your elderly parent can’t stand or balance for long periods, a tub or shower chair will provide stability and make bathing easier.

You may want to use a transfer bench if your loved one isn’t able to lift their leg high enough t make it over the top of the tub. A transfer bench eliminates the problem of stepping in and out of the tub. Your senior safely sits on the bench outside the tub, then slides over on the seat safely into the tub, allowing entry and exit while remaining seated.

female senior hand on grab bar on wall of bathGrab bars work well too
If your senior has moderate stability and flexibility, grab bars are the best choice. For extra precaution, use both grab bars for getting in and out of the shower. 

Some seniors prefer a grab bar on the shower wall for extra protection should they need support while showering. Also, installing grab bars in and out of the tub or shower and next to toilets can allow older adults to steady themselves.

Use a transfer bench

When getting in and out of the tub, older adults may not lift their legs high enough to make it over the top of white transfer bench on beige tubthe tub. A transfer bench eliminates the problem of stepping in and out of the tub. The senior safely sits on the bench outside the tub then slides over on the seat safely into the tub. The person can enter and exit the tub while remaining seated.

Use non-slip mats
Water is slippery, and bathroom floors tend to be hard and dangerous. Seniors who slip on water are prone to falling. A fall in the bathroom often leads to a fractured or broken hip. A good preventative measure is using non-slip mats or decals (stick-on) on the tub or shower floor as well as a non-slip mat on the floor f exiting the tub or shower.   

Invest in good shower shoes
A good-fitting pair of shower shoes can help prevent a fall. Find a pair that fits snugly, made of lightweight materials (not fabric or foam). Non-slip, flexible soles that drain easily are a smart choice.

Low toilets can be dangerous 
If you have the budget for it, you can have your old toilet replaced with an ADA-approved, raised height model to reduce the likelihood of a fall or slip. Budget-conscious seniors can have raised-height seats installed on their existing toilets. An essential rule of thumb—if your elderly parent’s feet do not touch the floor when seated on the toilet, it is too high and will put them at a higher risk for falls due to instability.

Standard toilets have a bowl height of about 15 inches. Some toilet manufacturers have recently introduced models that are an inch and a half higher than the standard 15-inch height. These 16.5-inch tall commodes make sitting down and getting back up less stressful on the body, and therefore safer.

beige light switch plate on wall with two rocker switches and 2 dimmer switchesLighting
As we age, eyesight becomes an issue for most, as we slowly lose the clarity of vision we once enjoyed. The weakening muscles and decreased size of the pupils mean less light can enter the eyes, which is one reason why seniors require higher light levels.  This is why adding automatic LED nightlights and battery-operated stick-on lights are helpful as one of the layers of senior safety in the bathroom.

Teach safety awareness to your senior
An important part of bathroom safety is educating seniors about bathroom activities that are associated with a high risk of injury. Complete this conversation with steps to take to reduce falls and improve bathroom safety. 

And stay safe in your own home.


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