Ensuring senior safety in the bathroom is not only life-saving, it helps maintain their independence and well-being. The bathroom, with its usually tight spaces and smooth floors can create hazards for seniors.
The slippery floors, wet surfaces, and limited areas to move around can lead to falls, which are a common cause of injuries among older adults.
All this is because of changes in the body with age which, as we all know, can affect physical strength and the ability to move around.
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Aging Changes that Increase Hazards in the Bathroom
Aside from the kitchen, the bathroom is also another very hazardous area in the home, especially for seniors, due to slippery surfaces, and their reduced balance and limited mobility.
There are at least six causes of increased risks for seniors in the bathroom.
Reduced Muscle Strength and Bone Density Triggers Need for Senior Safety in the Bathroom
With aging comes reduced muscle strength and bone density, making many seniors more susceptible prone to fractures and injuries. Any fall in the bathroom can lead to serious injuries, such as broken bones, head injuries, and bruises.
Decline of Balance and Coordination
Again, as a result of aging, balance and coordination can decline, making older adults more susceptible to slips and falls. Factor in wet and slippery surfaces and having to step in and out of the bathtub or shower and the risk of falls can greatly increase.
Several activities can become challenging or difficult due to reduced flexibility and strength, often leading to accidents. Such activities include getting on and off the toilet, stepping in and out of the bathtub or shower, and using sinks or counters.
Changes in Vision
Age-related changes in vision, such as reduced depth perception or struggling to distinguish contrasts, can make it difficult for seniors to identify potential hazards in the bathroom, like wet surfaces or obstacles.
Chronic Health Conditions
Seniors are more likely to have chronic health conditions that can affect their mobility and balance, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or neurological disorders. These conditions can further increase the risk of accidents in the bathroom.
Effects of Medication
Some medications can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or drowsiness, increasing the risk of accidents, especially in a bathroom environment where stability is already compromised.
Checklist of Preventive Measures for Potential Hazards in the Bathroom
If you are serious about senior safety in the bathroom, then you must have a strategy to check and implement changes. This all starts with a checklist. Without one, everything you do will just be a guessing game. Print the checklist on this page and use it to get started.
Senior safety in the bathroom can be enhanced through a combination of preventive measures Here are 10 top areas on our checklist:
Proper lighting is essential in any room, but is especially important in the bathroom to prevent accidents. Because many seniors may have decreased vision, installing bright, glare-free lighting is necessary to create a senior safe bathroom.
Motion-activated night lights can also be useful for those late-night bathroom visits.
Non-Slip Mats and Flooring
Slips and falls are a leading cause of injuries among seniors, and the bathroom floor is well known for its potential to become slippery, especially when wet. Installing non-slip mats and flooring is a key step to ensuring a senior safe bathroom.
These mats provide traction and stability, reducing the risk of accidents when stepping in and out of the shower or getting in and out of the bathtub.
Raised Toilet Seat
For seniors with mobility challenges, getting on and off the toilet can be difficult. A raised toilet seat can alleviate this issue by increasing the seat height, making it easier to sit down and stand up.
Some raised toilet seats also come with handles for additional support. This simple modification can significantly improve bathroom safety and accessibility for seniors.
Grab bars are a necessary addition to the bathroom for seniors. These sturdy bars can be strategically placed near the toilet, bathtub, and shower to provide support while standing, sitting, or moving around.
Grab bars offer a stable handhold, assisting to maintain balance and prevent falls.
To ensure that these grab bars do not become a new form of hazard, ensure that they are securely installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preferably by a professional.
Easy-to-Use Faucets and Handles
Seniors with arthritis or limited hand strength may struggle with traditional faucet handles. Having lever-style faucets and easy-to-grasp handles can make turning on and off the water much easier and more comfortable for them.
Seniors often have more sensitive skin and may not react as quickly to temperature changes. Installing anti-scald devices or adjusting the water heater temperature can help prevent accidental burns from water that’ is too hot.
These devices regulate the water temperature and can provide peace of mind for both seniors and caregivers.
A handheld showerhead offers greater control over the water stream, allowing direction of the water where needed without having to move around excessively.
This can be especially helpful for seniors who have difficulty reaching various parts of their bodies or who need to sit while showering.
Shower Chair or Bench
Standing for extended periods in the shower can be tiring and risky for seniors. A shower chair or bench provides a comfortable and secure place to sit while bathing.
This reduces the chances of slipping or losing balance while showering. Look for a chair or bench with non-slip feet and drainage holes to prevent water accumulation.
Bath Transfer Bench
For seniors who have difficulty stepping over the edge of the bathtub, a bath transfer bench can be very helpful. This bench extends over the edge of the bathtub. It allows seniors to sit down outside the tub, pivot their legs over the tub, and then slide into it.
It eliminates the need for lifting the legs and reduces the risk of slipping.
Some seniors need to take medications daily, and the bathroom can be a convenient place for this. However, taking the medications correctly and safely is of utmost importance.
Medication organizers with large, easy-to-read labels can help seniors keep track of their doses and reduce the risk of medication errors.
Additional Benefits of a Senior Safe Bathroom
Reduces Caregiver Burden
The safety of seniors in the bathroom also has an impact on caregivers, whether they are family members or professional ones. When the bathroom is designed to accommodate the needs of seniors, caregivers can have peace of mind from frequent accidents.
Promotes Mental and Emotional Well-being
A safe bathroom environment contributes to the overall mental and emotional well-being of seniors. Feeling secure in their ability to navigate the bathroom reduces anxiety and stress.
Conclusion – Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors
The bathroom space demands special attention when it comes to senior safety because falls and accidents can have serious consequences.
Helping seniors maintain their independence while minimizing the risk of accidents can be easily done with preventive gadgets.
From non-slip mats and grab bars to shower chairs and anti-scald devices, there are numerous devices to enhance bathroom safety for seniors.
By carefully selecting and ensuring their proper installation, you can significantly contribute to the well-being and quality of life for yourself or other seniors and the elderly you care for in a senior safe bathroom.
- How to Prevent Falls in Seniors – Home Safety
- How to Prevent Seniors Falling – The Effects of Osteoporosis
- How to Maintain Independence – Prevent Causes of Falls in Seniors
- Senior Safety in the Bedroom – What are the Risks?
- How to Ensure Senior Safety in the Kitchen – 11 Point Checklist
The Importance of Bathroom Safety for Seniors. (n.d.). CLH Healthcare. Retrieved August 13, 2023, from https://clhgroup.co.uk/learning-centre/patient-care/the-importance-of-bathroom-safety-for-seniors#:~:text=According%20to%20NHS%20Choices%2C%20statistics
7 Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors. (n.d.). Intrepid USA. Retrieved August 13, 2023, from https://www.intrepidusa.com/blog/7-bathroom-safety-tips-for-seniors/