Each year, more than one in four adults 65 or older will experience a fall, with 20% of them resulting in serious injury. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also notes that not only can falls cause immediate injury, they can instill a fear of falling, causing people to limit their activities, thus lowering their quality of life. Thus, it’s no surprise that some of the best ways to improve bathroom safety for older adults involve making changes that help reduce the likelihood of a fall.
Below are 10 simple changes anyone can do to help improve bathroom safety for older loved ones.
Clear the clutter. Crowded bathrooms are likely to present a trip hazard. Consider removing rugs, plants, magazine baskets, toilet paper stands and anything else that isn’t strictly needed in the room.
Install grab bars. Strategically placed handholds can dramatically lessen falls in the bathroom. One just inside the room, for example, can provide balance while the other hand is used to shut the door. Note: Do not use a towel rack for this purpose, as they are not designed to support human weight.
Put non-slip decals in the tub. This is especially important if the tub also is used as a shower (and if that’s the case, consider converting to a walk-in shower instead). A porcelain tub is extremely slick when wet and soapy, contributing to falls for even the most sure-footed people.
Install a raised toilet seat. It takes much more effort to position oneself on a lower seat, and of course getting up is that much more difficult, too. A raised seat makes the process easier.
Buy toilet safety rails. Like a raised seat, safety rails can make it much easier to sit on and get up from the toilet. Plus, they help provide balance in case your loved one begins to feel unsteady on the seat.
Get a stool for the shower. A tall stool in the shower will help your loved one rest tired legs while bathing and provide a steadier perch than attempting to stand on a slick, soapy floor.
Lower water heater temperature. The CDC recommends that water heaters be set at 120 F or lower to prevent burns. Even 110 F or 115 F should be warm enough.
Install brighter lightbulbs. Increasing the brightness of bathroom lighting can help older adults better see any obstacles that might be in the room.
Install lever-handle faucets. Knob-style faucets can be difficult to operate for those with arthritis or similar conditions that limit dexterity.
Ensure easy access to and from the bathroom. Check the hallway outside the bathroom for obstructions. Is there an end table there that could be removed? Is the transition from the hall carpet to the bathroom in good repair? Is the hallway lighted adequately, and is the light switch easy to access?
Take My Hand At-Home Care provides loving, attentive home care service throughout Whatcom County. If you’ve tried the above fixes but still aren’t confident that your loved one can navigate the bathroom safely, please give us a call. We would be happy to help.