The bathroom is one of the two most dangerous places in the house (the kitchen is the other), and for seniors, they present even more risk than for the general population. Water on the floor, nighttime visits to use the facilities, dim lighting — all can lead to falls. And falling is one of the most common causes of accidental deaths in the US, and the most common way for a senior to lose their independence.
How can you make your loved one’s bathroom safer? Try these 10 tips:
- The bathroom floor should have textured or nonskid tile. Smooth floors are hazardous when wet!
- Floor mats are useful for preventing slipping, especially when stepping out of the bath or shower. However, a loose or crumpled mat is a tripping hazard. Make sure all mats lie perfectly flat, particularly at the corners, before putting them into a bathroom. (The same goes for rugs throughout the house!)
- Place nonskid appliqués on the floors of tubs and showers. Otherwise, they are extremely slippery when wet.
- Put a chair or bench into the shower. That makes it easier for seniors to wash themselves without fear of falling.
- Switch a fixed showerhead for a handheld model. Handheld showerheads are much easier to use, especially if the senior is seated.
- Install grab bars inside and outside a tub and shower. This will allow for easy entrance and exit. While you’re at it, install two near the toilet, as well, at the side of the toilet and behind it. Towel racks are not secure enough to stabilize a person who needs help.
Your loved one doesn’t need grab bars? Install them anyway. They are helpful if someone ever slips or loses their balance momentarily.
Even if they don’t need the grab bars now, they may need them later on. You’re better off installing them to prevent a fall, rather than as a necessity after one.
- Ensure there is adequate lighting, both in the bathroom and en route to it. Proper lighting can help prevent a falls during the night, when a senior might be less cautious or groggy.
- A higher toilet seat is easier to use. Seat extenders are available if changing the toilet is not practical.
- Make sure everything is within easy reach. A senior should not need to bend over, reach high, or stretch far to get anything they need.
- Remove all glass or ceramic containers from the bathroom. Broken shards represent a major hazard. Transfer anything that comes in glass to a plastic container.
“Age-proofing” the bathroom is an excellent way to ensure ethat a senior is safe in the place they feel most comfortable: home.
Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.
Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.
Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.