A bathroom is often cited as the most unsafe area in the house for seniors, most especially those who have significant mobility issues. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), more than one in three seniors age 65 and over fall each year, and 80% of these falls occur in the bathroom. The National Council for Aging Care reports that every 11 seconds, a senior receives treatment in the ER due to a fall.
That is why bathroom safety is extremely important when you have a senior parent or patient in your home or residential care facility. According to Illuminating Facts, more and more seniors are living with with family in traditional homes which means traditional bathrooms that might not be safe. Fortunately, implementing bathroom safety for seniors is not at all complicated. Maintaining your bathroom clean and well-lit, and installing several safety devices are the chief ways to make your bathroom safe for your senior patients.
What makes a bathroom especially dangerous for seniors?
While anyone can slip and stumble inside the bathroom, seniors are more at risk of such accidents as they have poor balance and muscle strength.
Watch out for these problem areas in bathrooms or restrooms that can expose hazards to your senior parents or patients:
- Improperly installed towel racks;
- Shower chairs that do not offer slip resistance;
- Bathtubs whose sides are higher than average;
- Wet and slippery floor tiles;
- Bathroom storage areas that are beyond reasonable reach;
- Slippery surfaces on the bathtub and flooring;
- Wobbly and unstable sliding shower doors;
- Toilets that are too low to get up from easily;
- Insufficient lighting.
With these problem areas, elderly patients might end up doing any of these actions that can lead to a fall:
- Sitting down and getting up from the toilet;
- Getting in and out of a bathtub or shower;
- Relying upon sinks, towel bars, countertops or anything else for balance, while walking;
- Tripping on loose clothing, towels, bathmats or carpets;
- Slipping on a wet floor.
Tips to keep the bathroom safe for seniors:
- Clean bathroom tubs and shower floors regularly to get rid of the leftover soap scums and mildew, which can cause the surfaces to become slippery.
- Install nightlights and multiple 60-watt lightbulbs for enhanced visibility.
- Keep countertops and flooring clear of any clutter.
- Make sure to place bathroom items within the senior patient’s easy reach.
- Install a phone in the bathroom, or a waterproof medical system to speed up help in case of emergency.
- If a senior patient falls against the door, replace it with a new door that swings outward. This will provide access for caregivers or emergency personnel in case the patient suffers a serious fall.
In addition to the tips above, you can increase bathroom safety for seniors by installing the following devices:
Products that improve bathroom safety for seniors
The team at Kerr Medical culled this list of recommended products that enhance bathroom safety for seniors.
- Toilet Seat Risers with Safety Frames– They feature additional elevation and support bars that enable seniors to sit down and get up from the toilet.
- Bathroom Grab Bars– These grab bars are easy to install on the wall, but they provide formidable support for senior patients as they use the toilet, bathtub or shower.
- Tub Rails– Tub rails are handles that are added to the side of a bathtub. They enable seniors to have a firm grip as they get into and out of the bathtub.
- Bath (or Shower) Chairs or Transfer Benches– A chair or bench provides stability for the seniors, especially those who are frail or have balancing issues. Transfer benches provide an easier way to get into a standard bathtub.
- Handheld Showerheads– Handheld showerheads can be used by the patient himself or herself while sitting or standing. Caregivers can also use this to bathe their patients more thoroughly.
- Commodes– Commodes or portable toilets are a safe alternative if the patient is unable or struggling to have access to a bathroom.
Contact Kerr Medical for Information about Bathroom Safety
Kerr Medical provides products and solutions (check our catalog) to improve bathroom safety for seniors. They can also improve mobility, and a sense of privacy and independence for the senior patients while in the bathroom.
Call our team at 888.254.3444. You can also contact us online with questions.