7 Ways to improve bathroom safety for seniors

Whether from increased age or a sickness or ailment, the bathing process can become increasingly more difficult than it once was at some point in life. Whether it’s smaller spaces, slick floors or managing the bathtub or shower, things can get a bit frightening. It’s no wonder that one in four New Zealanders aged 85+ suffer a fall each year. Fall-related injuries can happen anywhere, but the bathroom can pose some specific challenges and risks. A fall that takes place in the bathroom can be fatal.

Whether you need them for yourself or if you are caring for your parents, here are some key ways to improve bathroom safety to prevent the likelihood of a fall.

Install grab bars

These are an essential addition to your bathroom as many seniors struggle with lack of stability and poor balance. Having grab bars placed in the shower and near the toilet are crucial as they allow the individual to provide themselves with necessary leverage. Whether from low toilet seats or slippery shower floors, having sturdy bars to hang onto can prevent a costly accident. The bars are best for seniors who have great upper body strength and ability to grip. Ensure that the bars are slip resistant and located in easy to reach places. Steer clear of suction cup bars as they quickly come loose which can increase the risk of injury.

Get a good shower bench

The ability to stay balanced while standing is something that can sometimes diminish with age. A shower bench gives a senior the option to sit and rest while bathing in a way that is comfortable and safe. Many shower benches are designed with ease and efficiency in mind. They may come with armrests, suction cups for the slick shower or tub floor and height change options. This 11 best transfer benches for shower safety list provides some of the best options for your specific bathing space.

Get a walk-in tub

A walk-in tub is a fantastic option for seniors who prefer taking a bath because they can sit, but don’t have to worry about getting in and out of a slippery bathtub. A walk in tub allows the user to open the door, walk in and sit down without the climbing aspect necessary in traditional tubs that sit on the floor. These type of tubs are investments but it will allow the senior to live much more independently and provide additional peace of mind to family members who may have concerns about potential accidents.

Place non-slip mats in the bathroom

These mats help to mitigate the likelihood that a fall would occur as it eliminates the slick surface that causes most slips that can and do lead to falls. Placing a non-slip mat on the floor of the tub or shower helps to ground the user when they are stepping in and out of the shower. Non-slip rugs are also available for outside of the tub or shower, near the toilet and sink. Wherever the floor could potentially house a bit of water which could cause a slip, a non-slip rug is the perfect answer. There are areas that a majority of bathroom falls occur and placing a good mat in these areas diminishes the likelihood of such an occurrence.

Install a raised toilet seat

The leg muscles and stability required to squat to sit on the toilet properly are often taken for granted. With age, the legs can start to become less stable and more wobbly. This makes something as simple as attempting to go to the bathroom potentially tricky. These add-ons can raise a traditional toilet seat anywhere from three to four inches which makes the transition from standing to sitting, much more smooth and easily accessed. Grab bars are also a great idea around the toilet for added assistance.

Store necessary items within reach

Storing shampoo, body wash or other bathing essentials on the floor or two high up on shelves is a bad idea for those getting up in age. They need everything to be just an arm’s length away so that they don’t accidentally topple over or lose their balance when reaching for something. A shower caddy, one that is installed securely, is an excellent way to prevent overreach that may lead to a fall.