Is your bathroom safe for seniors? According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), more than one in three seniors over the age of 65 fall each year and 80 percent of these falls are in the bathroom. Reduced mobility, poor muscle co-ordination and eyesight as well as slippery surfaces are some of the main reasons why.
Health experts have identified challenges seniors face in a bathroom such as:
- Getting in and out of the bathtub or shower stall
- Standing and taking a shower
- Sliding shower doors that move suddenly
- Wet and slippery floors
- Bathmats that move
- Using towel bars, sink tops and soap holders to support oneself
- Sitting down and getting up from the toilet
Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 1.6 million older adults seek emergency care each year for fall-related injuries, fractures or head trauma. Many of these occur in the bathroom and can cause the elderly to lose their independence or worse still, their lives.
Here are 10 important precautions you should take to senior-proof the bathroom. They are simple and easy to implement.
- Install grab bars. They provide a firm support for seniors to hold on to as they enter and exit the shower or the tub.
- Upgrade to a walk-in shower with a hinged door or a bathtub with a wide rim or bench to sit on and swing legs into the tub.
- Use a sturdy shower bench rather than a stool that can slip when the shower floor is wet.
- Install a handheld shower. It is easier to use when sitting down.
- Install a thermostatically controlled or pressure balance shower value to prevent scalding.
- Opt for non-slip mats or rugs. Place them in front of the toilet, the sink and tub/shower to reduce slipping on wet flooring.
- Switch to a raised toilet seat with grab bars. It reduces the amount of squatting (which is difficult for seniors) while the grab bars provide support for seniors as they sit down and get up.
- Ensure that faucets are clearly marked hot and cold. Set the hot water temperature to a maximum of 120°F. This will help prevent scalding and burns. Faucets should also be easy to turn on and off.
- Install bright lights and put switches in easily accessible places. Also consider night lights in the hallway. Many accidents occur when seniors are navigating their way to the washroom at night.
- Make sure toiletries e.g. soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, towel, etc. are within reach. Avoid clutter and take away things that are unnecessary.
The Sistine Stone Freedom Collection Shower Kits by American Bath Factory were designer to assure a safe showering environment.