Bathrooms are the most common source of injuries for senior citizens at home. Puddles of water, cords, and slick surfaces can make it difficult for some seniors to navigate bathrooms. According to the National Council on Aging, an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds, and a senior citizen dies from a fall every 19 minutes, making falls the leading cause of fatal injury for seniors.
Fortunately, making a few small changes to your bathroom and shower can help reduce a senior’s injury risk.
Bathroom and Shower Safety Tips for Senior Citizens
- Add Handrails: The National Institute on Aging recommends handrails near toilets and the tub and shower area.
- Add Non-Skid Floor Mats: Particularly on slippery floors (and tub-bottoms) that get wet.
- Let There Be Light: Add a night light or two for your loved one to get around easily in darkness. Here are a few other tips for better safety.
- Eliminate Clutter: It’s easy to leave out products, hairdryers, and used towels, but more clutter means more falls. Put away products in a cabinet or drawer to keep everything tidy and reduce these worries.
- Watch the Water Temperature: Adjust the shower and sink water temperatures to ensure they don’t exceed safe temperatures.
- Keep Items Within Reach: Another common concern for seniors is the struggle to reach for items on high places. Keep all of their daily items at eye level in drawers and cabinets. Be especially careful with heavy items, and consider putting them in smaller containers or bottles that are easier to grab without worrying about straining or over-stretching.
- Be Careful of Lower Bathroom Areas: Some seniors struggle with lowering themselves, especially when using toilets or tubs. Consider getting raised seats and handrails to help with lowering and raising into an upright position, too. You should also consider handheld showerheads instead of traditional showerheads to help seniors shower without bending, twisting and turning.
Other Bathroom Safety Factors to Consider
If a senior has difficulty lifting, lowering or reaching from time to time, speak with them and their doctor about their needs. The doctor may recommend a medical alert with fall detection as an extra safety measure.
And if your senior lives alone at the moment, you may want to consider extra care — especially when they’re starting their day or getting ready for bed. Having a caretaker or assistant can give other family members peace of mind, particularly if they’re suffering from other illnesses that may increase risks or concerns. The caretaker can also help with cleaning the bathroom to prevent your loved one from over-extending.
You’ll also want to be extremely mindful if the senior has a hearing or vision problem. Consider labeling products, hot and cold water and other essentials to help them get around the bathroom easily.
If you’re caring for a senior who may struggle in the bathroom or shower, remember to always talk to them about their wants and needs, as well as their doctor.