It’s common for older adults to have gait and balance issues. Hence, they’re also prone to accidents and falling, especially in tight spaces and slippery surfaces, resulting in injuries that can harm their health.
That’s why it’s vital to ensure that your home’s environment is SAFE and SECURE to maintain the independence of the elderly person looking to perform their daily tasks.
In this article, we’ll teach you bathroom safety tips to minimize possible dangers in the shower. Keep reading to learn more!
13 Best Bathroom Safety Tips for Senior Citizens
Bathroom safety for seniors is one of the most important things you must PRIORITIZE to prevent accidents resulting in injuries, which could be detrimental to the elderly person’s health.
Creating safe spaces for seniors would also mean promoting their health by minimizing the risk of fall-related injuries.Here are a few tips you must do to make your shower area accident-proof:
1) Improve the Lighting
Poor or inadequate lighting can interfere with our elderly parents’ vision, especially since they already suffer from poor eyesight. Topping it off with dim lighting in the bathroom would cause them to see even LESS.
With this, there’s a high chance they will slip and fall since they can’t see where they’re going and what’s obstructing their path.Hence, you must ensure that the lighting is bright enough for elderly people to see where they’re headed and if they need to avoid objects blocking their direction.
2) Install Grab Bars and Safety Rails
Another way to improve bathroom safety for seniors is to install a vertical grab bar for elderly people or safety rail inside the bathroom, specifically near the toilet, shower, and bathtub.
Grab bars, or safety rails are essential when an elderly person needs ample assistance and support bathing, showering, or getting on and off the toilet.
Through these fixtures, the seniors can MAINTAIN their balance by gripping onto the grab bar when their legs feel wobbly.
But, to serve their function well, they must be installed at a height that’s easy to reach without having to go too high or low to hold. Seniors have weaker grips, after all.
3) Go With Hand-Held Shower Heads Instead of Tubs
A traditional shower head can be risky and stressful for a senior to use compared to hand-held ones because they’re limited to standing under the running water.
With a hand-held shower head, the elderly can comfortably take a shower while sitting down. Those having flexible handheld shower wands, specifically those with additional features, are also designed for EASY HANDLING.
Bathtubs are also a luxury in the bathroom. But, it’s not the best amenity to promote bathroom safety. Seniors may find it challenging to get in and out of the tub, and it’s also a slip-and-fall risk.
We suggest sticking with a hand-held shower head for senior safety instead of a standard tub.
4) Add a Shower Chair or Transfer Benches
Gait and balance issues also mean a diminished capacity to stand for an extended period of time. Therefore, we suggest getting a shower chair to keep seniors seated and comfortable as they bathe.
Shower chairs (a.k.a. shower benches) are plastic chairs that come with a metal frame.
It’s also wise to invest in transfer benches so the seniors won’t need to walk in and out of the bathroom. This is necessary when the elderly you care for have SEVERE mobility issues.
5) Store Bath Items in Easy-to-Reach Places
Another way to promote bathroom safety for seniors is by storing bath essentials in places where it’s easy to access and reach.
The perfect placement should be between waist and shoulder height to keep seniors from bending or stretching their backs, arms, and limbs to get their essentials.
This will also prevent them from slipping or falling if they intend to stand on a chair to get the items themselves.
A simple shower caddy can help a lot with ORGANIZING your bath essentials. You can also use plastic drawers and lower shelves to store combs, towels, and brushes.
6) Use Non-Slip Mats
Toilet rugs and bathroom mats may look fuzzy and cute, but they’re a MAJOR RED FLAG when it comes to bathroom safety.
A wet rug or bathroom mat over wet surfaces is a tripping and fall hazard for senior citizens that may cause them to slip and fall.
Hence, as part of the safety precautions in your home, we suggest purchasing non-slip rugs or a non-slip mat for your bathroom floor.
It’s also important to consider THIN bathroom mats and rugs so they won’t get in the way of walkers or rollators. You can even have your seniors wear shower shoes for extra grip and comfort.
7) Utilize a Raised Toilet Seat
Bathroom injuries may also result from trying to stand up or sit down on low toilet seats. Hence, it’s also important to consider the height of the toilet seat to make things easier for seniors.
While grab bars can help older adults by giving ample assistance with getting up and down, there’s another way to IMPROVE bathroom safety for seniors: installing an elevated toilet seat.
Installing a raised toilet seat is better for providing support to elderly people. Aside from a basic raised toilet, you can also choose those with variable height adjustment, sturdy frame, and support arms for maximum comfort.
8) Moderate Water Temperature
Another subset of bathroom-related injuries is accidental burns due to unmoderated water temperature.
If the water becomes too hot, an excessive flow of blood may occur, leading to a strain on the cardiovascular system. This, in turn, is DANGEROUS for our senior loved ones, especially those with heart conditions.
Conversely, if the water runs too cold, there is a reduction in blood flow, which is also harmful and might lead to heart strain.
Hence, most bathrooms need to have regulated tap water temperature. The caretaker must ensure that the tap water is not too hot or too cold for the elderly.
You can lower the water temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower (97 to 99 degrees). You can also install an anti-scalding, pressure-balancing valve for an extra layer of protection.
This piece of bathroom safety equipment is installed on a shower handle and regulates water pressure to prevent accidental burns and cold temperatures.
9) Organize Your Stuff and Keep the Shower Clean
Since bathrooms are often small spaces, it’s important to AVOID CLUTTER to minimize tripping and fall hazards and improve bathroom safety.
You can start by organizing all the shower gels, shampoos, scrubs, and other bath essentials in the shower. It’s also better to keep only those regularly used by the elderly.
You can also keep the bathroom safe by maintaining the cleanliness of the shower room. It’s important to prevent mildew and mold growth on the shower wall and floor to AVOID creating slippery surfaces.
Wipe the walls, glass doors, shower floors, and other surfaces with moisture-resistant cleaners after using the shower, and scrub the stains with non-abrasive cleaners and a soft-bristled brush.You can also keep the shower curtain open and allow air to circulate to reduce moisture build-up in the shower.
10) Always Be Prepared for Accidents
The bathroom is quite known to be the most dangerous room in the home.
Its tight space, hard surfaces, and slippery floors and walls pose a DANGER to elderly people, especially if they already have difficulty standing and navigating.
So, aside from installing grab bars, non-slip mats, and shower safety handles and adding night lights to illuminate the shower and bathroom, it’s still important to prepare for accidents at all times.
Special devices, such as a medical alert necklace or home systems, can help the older adult live independently while still being able to QUICKLY get the assistance they need in emergencies.
11) Choose the Right Floor Tiles
As previously mentioned, bathroom falls occur likely because of slippery floors. Aside from using non-slip mats, you can also improve bathroom safety by choosing the correct floor tiles and using safe flooring alternatives.
One pro tip we can share is to AVOID glossy tiles at all costs because these can be extremely slippery, especially when it gets soaked with water.
Always go with textured and non-slip tiles, and add non-slip decals to your bathroom, specifically the shower and walk-in tubs.
Other alternatives you can consider for your shower floor are bamboo, cork flooring, linoleum, and non-slip vinyl.
12) Make Use of Ergonomic Fixtures
Ergonomic fixtures, such as shower levers and faucets, are treats for the senior’s arthritic hands.
Regular knobs may look like they’re easy to operate. But, for the elderly with diminished physical capabilities and reduced strength, they are DIFFICULT to turn on and off.
Hence, we suggest you look for ergonomic fixtures with smooth and easy-to-turn functions. This way, it’s much handier for seniors to use the faucet and shower.
13) Use a Weighted Shower Curtain
Another way to keep the floor dry is by using a weighted shower curtain. The weight of the curtain hem helps reduce splashes of water that would cause the floor to become slippery.
But, if you have the luxury to invest in a glass door or wall, you should choose these over curtains. Modern glass can be laminated or tempered, making them SHATTER-PROOF and SAFE for seniors.
Frameless doors are even easier to clean and maintain than curtains. Plus, the latter tends to blow away or get tangled, increasing seniors’ fall risk.
Common Bathroom Hazards To Avoid
The bathroom is considered a dangerous environment in your home because it poses an increased risk to senior citizens, especially fall-related injuries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults over the age of 65 experience bathroom injuries, most of which are caused by getting on and off the toilet and while bathing.
Hence, it’s important to know the hazards you must avoid in the shower, including:
- Slippery surfaces and wet floors – bathroom floors or walk-in tubs can cause the elderly to slip and fall, especially if they become soaked with water. While grab bars help in providing assistance for mobility in the shower, slippery flooring still poses a significant danger to individuals with diminished strength and mobility issues.
- Wet rugs and unsecured bath mats– like slippery surfaces, wet rugs, and bath mats can cause older adults to slip and fall on their backs, leading to fatal injuries that would be detrimental to their health. That’s why we suggest using non-slip mats, which are more secure. It’s also advisable to clean and dry the bathroom after every use to prevent accidents.
- Inadequate lighting – along with balance issues, seniors also suffer from poor vision. With inadequate lighting, they may not be able to see obstacles that block their way, which may cause them to trip. It’s better to install proper lighting instead of dim lights and ensure that the switch is easily accessible.
Bathroom clutter – unorganized bath essentials that clutter all corners of the bathroom are a major tripping hazard. It’s ideal to keep the shower room clean and organized at all times to minimize clutter and avoid obstacles that would cause the older adult to trip.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Let’s answer a few more questions before I give you my final thoughts!
When Should I Consider Changing My Living Conditions Based on Bathroom Safety?
The presence of one common bathroom hazard in the home is already a signal to change your living conditions and make it safe for seniors.
It’s also important to be mindful of the fixtures in your bathroom and if it caters to the needs and capabilities of the elderly.
You can make improvements like installing bath chairs or shower seating and investing in ergonomic bathroom designs.
What are Some of the Best Ways to Prevent Fall Risk?
To prevent falls, you must ensure that the floor is not slippery and wet. You should also organize bath essentials and keep them from cluttering all over the place.
Using non-slip rugs and textured flooring for your shower is also a plus to MINIMIZE ACCIDENTS. If the elderly can no longer walk alone, you can add grab bars for extra support or purchase bath chairs.
Can I use a Walker in the Shower?
Yes, a walker can be used in the shower. However, you must ensure that your mobility device can cope with tight spaces while providing ample assistance as you navigate your path.
What are the Benefits of a Walk-In Shower?
A walk-in shower is MORE SPACIOUS compared to tubs. That’s why it’s ideal for seniors. This allows them to be comfortably seated in their wheelchair or shower seating while still leaving room for a caregiver.
You can also include add-ons in a walk-in shower, such as a grab bar, towel bars, non-slip flooring, and benches. Plus, you can utilize hand-held shower heads for added convenience.
NOTE: Medicare doesn’t cover walk-in showers because they’re not considered durable medical equipment.
Fall-related injuries and accidents are one of the TOP REASONS why seniors are sent to the emergency room. So, it’s important to promote bathroom safety in the home and make it a safe space for seniors to live independently. Follow these 13 tips to avoid the hazards that might harm the elderly and protect them from possible dangers in the shower.