It may be the smallest room in your home, but it’s certainly not the safest. According the Centers for Disease Control, every year about 200,000 people visit emergency rooms due to injuries sustained in the bathroom. In fact, about 70% of injuries at home happen in the bathroom.
While bathroom injuries can happen at any age, seniors are at a greater risk of harm, especially if they have limited mobility, poor eyesight, or challenges with balance and coordination. What could be a minor fall for a younger person, can be serious – and even life-threatening for a senior.
The good news is that there are easy and inexpensive ways to make the bathroom safer for you or your senior loved one. Below are some suggestions to create a safe and secure room that helps foster your good heath – not hinder it.
- Add Extra Lighting. To help you or your senior loved one navigate the bathroom better at night, especially if they have limited vision, consider installing a night light and/or motion sensor lighting. This can be especially beneficial for someone who uses a walker or who has limited mobility and can’t reach the light switch.
- Buy a Raised Toilet Seat. The greatest percentage of serious injuries that seniors sustain in the bathroom comes from falls from the toilet – not from slips in the shower or bathtub. Elevated toilet seats – or raised toilet seats are portable and easy to install atop the existing seat. These seats add about 3-4 inches to the existing seat limiting the need to squat deeply to sit. Raised toilet seats with grab bars add even more security and safety.
- Use Anti-Slip Strips. Adhesive strips, rubber suction mats, or other non-slip materials in the bathtub and shower can help a senior bather stay balanced and reduce the risk of falls, particularly when getting in and out of the shower or bathtub.
- Use a Stool or Chair in the Bathtub. A shower chair or stool can help those who can’t stand for long periods of time or have difficultly balancing. It’s a great option for those who use a hand-held shower head. Look for a chair with rubber tips on the legs to avoid slipping when getting on and off the chair.
- Use a Transfer Bathtub Bench. These benches work by letting the bather sit on a bench, the same height of the bathtub rim, outside of the tub, and then lifting their legs to slide safely to the part of the bench in the tub. When used with bathtub grips, this is a very safe and effective way to take a bath safety.
- Install Bathtub and Shower Grips. One of the greatest challenges seniors with limited mobility face is getting in and out of the tub or shower. Installing grips to the rim of the tub gives them something to hold to secure their balance while lifting a leg off the floor and shifting their weight. Grip bars on the wall are also helpful for seniors who can’t bend down or who need help when stepping out of the shower. Note: Most bathtub safety grips are made for steel tubs. If you or your loved one has an acrylic or fiberglass tub, tension rods – installed from floor to ceiling – can be used instead.
Your bathroom should be a place to rest and even unwind and rejuvenate. A few simple additions to the bathroom can transform it from a potentially dangerous space to one that’s secure, safe, and inviting.