For seniors and folks who have mobility issues, the bathroom can be a dangerous space. To navigate the bathroom and perform the necessary tasks, you need balance, visual perception, mobility, and cognitive skills.
Unfortunately, these skills tend to diminish as we age. At some point, tasks that we take for granted become difficult and hazardous. According to the CDC, each year, 36 million aging adults fall, leading to 32,000 deaths. Falls in any other space in the home usually results in minor injuries. However, in the bathroom, falls can be fatal.
Fortunately, they are a few adjustments you can make in the bathroom that will guarantee safety for seniors. Here are tips on how to make the bathroom a safer space for seniors:
Get a Shower Chair
A lot of accidents that happen in the bathroom are a result of a senior slipping while in the shower. A bathroom chair is therefore a necessary safety precaution. Get a chair that’s sturdy and one that offers a good grip. Ideally, you should also consider a chair that allows an individual to move from a wheelchair and back. That way, someone can get into the shower and leave independently, whenever they want.
Opt for a Handheld Showerhead
Once you have a good quality chair/bench in the bathroom, you also need a handled shower. This should be an inexpensive modification. You don’t need fancy spa showerheads, a simple shower head that allows for adjustment of flow and one that can be manipulated by arthritic fingers will do.
Mount Grab Bars
You can’t anticipate when a senior will need a helping hand. This is why the bathroom should have grab bars in common spots like at the entrance, inside the shower, and near the toilet. Grab bars should be easy to reach and slip-resistant to allow seniors to enter and leave the bathroom with ease.
Inadequate lighting can increase the chances of falling due to poor visibility. Ensure the path leading to the bathroom as well as the bathroom itself is adequately lit. Also, you should consider how the bathroom door swings; does it swing outwards or inwards? A door that swings outwards is safer as it allows for easier accessibility in case a senior falls against the door.
Easy-to-Handle Shower Faucets
Many seniors have a tougher time using round knob shower faucets due to weaker or arthritic hands. You can help them out by installing senior-friendly lever handles.
An essential thing you should do to keep seniors independent is to ensure their bathrooms are safe and easy to use. Fortunately, by making simple changes like installing ADA compliant showers, you can improve their safety and help them maintain their independence and privacy.
The toilet is the next most dangerous space after the bathroom. It can be difficult for seniors and anyone with mobility issues to lower into and rise from low toilet seats. So ideally, you should install a raised toilet frame or toilet seat. Preferably, it should also have grab bars on both sides.