Creating a Safer Bathroom for a Senior Loved One
The smallest room in the house can be one of the most dangerous for seniors. Every year, an estimated 235,000 people end up in the emergency room due to injuries caused by an accident in the bathroom. Older adults are more likely to suffer a serious injury than younger adults, and over 81 percent of injuries are caused by falls.
What can you do to help a senior in your life avoid a mishap in the bathroom?
We have a few suggestions you might find useful in evaluating and modifying an older loved one’s bathroom.
6 Tips for Creating a Safer Bathroom for a Senior
1. Install a raised toilet seat.
The majority of accidents and falls in the bathroom occur around the toilet. Seniors often have balance issues or a lack of strength, making it more difficult to get up and down from the toilet seat. You can decrease their risk for a fall by installing a raised toilet seat. Seats with handles on each side are usually best because they give the senior something sturdy to hold on to.
2. Focus on tub and shower safety.
Stepping in to and out of the bath tub or shower are also dangerous tasks for older adults. Keep your loved one safer by installing a step-free shower stall or hiring a contractor to modify an existing bathtub. Make sure there are non-skid mats on the shower or tub floor. You can also purchase a shower chair so the older adult can shower from a seated position.
3. Replace towel bars with sturdy grab bars.
If a senior has mobility problems or balance issues, they might be using existing towel bars for stability while walking around the bathroom. Over time, these bars can become less sturdy and cause the senior to fall. To avoid that hazard, remove towel bars in the bathroom and have sturdy grab bars installed. Unlike towel bars, properly installed grab bars are designed to support the weight of an adult.
4. Use good lighting and a night light.
Poor lighting and light switches that are difficult to reach can increase the risk of falling. Vision issues common with advancing age—like cataracts and glaucoma—can make rooms appear even darker.
Assess your loved one’s bathroom for good lighting, and upgrade it if necessary. You should also consider installing motion-activated lights in the bathroom and along the path from the bedroom to the bathroom.
5. Skid-proof flooring
Tile floors and throw rugs can both be hazardous in the bathroom. Wet feet on slippery floors can lead to injuries, and throw rugs are easy to trip on.
Encourage your loved one to pack up the bathroom rugs or trade them for ones with non-skid backing. Also consider talking with a flooring expert for advice on skid-proof flooring like bamboo or cork. While it might be a bit of a financial investment, it can keep a senior safer.
6. Waterproof emergency call pendant
Our final tip is to purchase a waterproof emergency call pendant for your loved one to wear, especially while they are in the shower. In the event they do have an accident, the pendant makes it easier to call for help.
Design and Safety Meet
We know older adults want their home to be comfortable and safe without sacrificing style. It’s why we created the Sunrise Home Design Guide. Inside, you will find tips on topics such as arranging furniture to create an environment that accommodates vision loss, making smart lighting choices, and much more.