According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year, and an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls in the bathroom can add an extra layer of danger for seniors.
Falls, with or without injury, can have a significant impact on quality of life as many seniors have a fear of falling, and may limit activities they would otherwise enjoy due to that fear. We recommend making some easy adjustments to promote safety and fall prevention in the bathroom.
1. Purchase Non-Slip Floor and Shower Mats
Slippery floors and wet surfaces pose a huge risk for elderly people. Invest in non-slip carpets to place in front of sinks, toilets, and outside of the tub, as these are areas where seniors are most likely to fall.
Purchase a non-slip shower mat to place on the floor of the tub to add an extra layer of safety to the slippery tub floor. This is an easy and inexpensive preventative measure to take to ensure the safety of your older loved ones.
2. Install Grab Bars
Easy and relatively inexpensive adjustments can be made in the shower and around the bathroom to help older adults, especially those with balance issues, maneuver safely in the bathroom. Getting in and out of the tub can be a very challenging task for seniors. Often, seniors use towel bars, faucets, and countertops to balance themselves while getting in and out of the tub, which can be very dangerous.
We recommend installing grab bars in areas that are easy to reach, and where seniors are used to reaching as they get in and out of the tub. Make sure the grab-bars are slip resistant and easy to see.
3. Install a Raised Toilet Seat
Many seniors have trouble lowering themselves to the level of a traditional toilet seat, or may have difficulty pulling themselves up to a standing position from the toilet seat. Installing a raised toilet seat can make the task of lowering and standing easier for seniors. You may want to consider safety rails or bars around the toilet that give them a place to hold while sitting and standing.
4. Invest in a Shower Chair
For seniors who have balance issues, especially while in the shower, we recommend investing in a good shower chair. There are several styles of shower chairs, so it may be helpful for your senior loved one to choose one that will be best for them. Whichever style you choose, we recommend choosing one that has rubber tips on the legs to prevent the chair from sliding in the shower.
5. Put Essential Items Within Reach
Make sure all essential shower items are within reach, and make sure the bottles aren’t too heavy to lift. Be sure that the towel and robe or clothes are nearby as well so that your older loved ones aren’t walking on slippery tile with wet feet to get dressed.
6. Install a Removeable Shower Head
Installing a removeable shower head may make it easier for your older loved ones to shower. Seniors may feel more comfortable sitting while they shower, and the removeable shower head may give them more control.
7. Request a Home Safety Evaluation
If you are unsure of what modifications would be helpful for your older loved one, you can request a home safety evaluation. Talk with your loved one’s primary care doctor about your concerns, and request a home safety evaluation to be performed.
8. Request a Companion Caregiver
Often the fear of falling can cause seniors to be uncomfortable showering when no one is around. Our companion caregivers can set-up and monitor bathing and dressing, giving peace of mind to your loved one while they shower.
Fall prevention is an important factor in maintaining health and independence for older adults. Easy and relatively inexpensive measures and adjustments can be made to the bathroom to keep your older loved one safe, and happier in their homes.