Nothing quite compares to a hot shower or bath at the end of a long day. Unfortunately, maneuvering through the bathroom can be a risky endeavour for seniors and people living with disabilities.
According to the US National Institute of Aging, one in three seniors aged over 65 experience a fall each year, and over 80% of these cases take place in the bathroom. Luckily, there are a variety of simple ways you can minimize the risk and enjoy your bathroom to it’s full potential, regardless of your age or disability.
In this article we share 4 bathroom safety tips for seniors and take a look at some equipment that can help you continue using your bathroom facilities comfortably. Make sure you follow the tips below and feel free to contact us for more information about home accessibility.
1. Minimize The Risk of Falls
According to Veterans Affairs Canada, falls account for more than half of all injuries among seniors, making them the leading cause of injury for the elderly in Canada.
The bathroom, with it’s hard floors, slippery environment, and lack of stable equipment to hold on to, can be a high-risk area for any able-bodied person, let alone for people with decreased mobility.
Hence, one of the best ways to ensure you can continue to safely use your bathroom is by minimizing the risk of slips and falls. Start by removing any tripping hazards like unnecessary bath rugs and cleaning up any water/spills on the floor immediately.
If you really want to keep a bath rug on the floor, try to stick to low-pile mats as they are less likely to cause a fall. Also ensure they have a non-slip plastic on the underside and considering securing them with waterproof tape to minimize the chance of them slipping out beneath you.
Finally, always make sure the bathroom floor is clear of any items, including shampoo bottles, clothes, or even cables from appliances (like a portable heater).
2. Increase Lighting
Roughly half a million Canadians are estimated to live with significant vision loss, a condition which is most common among seniors. Hence, it is extra important to ensure your bathroom has adequate lighting.
According to LampsUSA, a bathroom should have at least 646 lumens of light (or 60 footcandles) to adequately cater for seniors roughly 60 years of age. For seniors over 80, this jumps to 968 lumens (or 90 footcandles).
To make sure your eyes are working to their maximum potential in the bathroom, consider installing new lighting fixtures and pay attention to their lumen outputs. Also pay attention to your lightbulbs and make sure you change them regularly.
3. Invest in Bathroom Safety Equipment
There is plenty of basic bathroom safety equipment available at low prices that can help make showering/bathing/using the toilet as simple, safe, and comfortable as possible. Here is short list of basic bathroom aids every senior should have:
- Grab bars: Grab bars and handrails are a simple, cost-effective way to increase safety in the bathroom. We always recommend installing a bar next to the toilet, above the bathtub, in the shower, and along the walls. For more information, read our post on grab bar installation.
- Raised toilet seats: The most basic models easily attach to your existing toilet and can raise the seating surface by up to 6”. More advanced models, like the Toilevator Toilet Riser, can be installed to the base of your toilet, allowing you to retain its original look and feel.
- Bath/shower mats: These plastic mats can be stuck to the floor of your tub or shower and are a simple, cheap way to minimize your risk of slipping while bathing.
- Shower and bath chairs/stools: Basic models start at about $50 and provide comfort/support for seniors who struggle standing for prolonged periods of time. All quality models are made from durable, waterproof materials and come with rubber tips to stop them from slipping.
4. Install a Walk/Wheel-in Tub or Shower
Lastly, installing a walk/wheel-in shower is ideal for anybody suffering from poor mobility. Stepping over a threshold and into a shower/tub adds an extra risk when bathing, and can be impossible to manage for people who rely on walking aids.
Walk-in tubs minimize this threshold and also come equipped with extra features like hydro-jets to help relieve aching limbs or deep muscle pain. Wheel-in showers are a great solution for smaller bathrooms as they require less space, and generally have no threshold at all. They also come complete with a variety of features including a foldable seat, hand-held shower heads, easy-to-reach controls, grab bars, and anti-slip surfaces.
For more information about any of these products or if you have any questions about home accessibility, contact us today. We’re always here to help.