Most seniors prefer to age in place in the comfort of their own home. With a few modifications and safety updates, your loved one will be able to live independently for a longer period of time. The following bathroom safety tips will get you headed in the right direction to keep your loved one safe at home.
1. Install grab bars.
When you start to lose your balance, your first instinct is to grab whatever is nearest to you. If that happens to be a sliding shower door or a towel bar, however, the object that you grab onto may not be able to hold your weight.
Keep your loved one safe by installing grab bars in strategic places, such as on either side of the toilet and on the wall next to the bath tub or shower. When properly installed, a grab bar will support your full weight and stop you from falling.
2. Prevent slipping.
Bath tubs and showers are often the cause of falls in the bathroom, since they are slippery when wet. Use a non-slip shower mat or apply non-skid tape or treads to the bottom of your bath tub or shower.
3. Get a shower chair.
Sitting in the shower or bath tub is safer than standing. You can really take your time bathing and enjoy yourself with a bath or shower chair. Options range from a small bath stool (for tight shower spaces) to a bath transfer bench that make it easier to get in and out of the tub.
4. Install a handheld shower head.
With a handheld shower head, you can easily rinse off without standing or moving around underneath the shower head. The long hose allows you to move the shower head where needed, and you can control the spray settings for your comfort.
5. Raise the toilet seat.
A higher toilet seat makes it easier to sit down and stand up. A raised toilet seat platform can be installed over your existing toilet seat for an extra boost. You may also be able to install a portable commode (without the bucket) over the toilet seat for arm rest support.
6. Use a medical alert system.
If you haven’t done so already, get a medical alert system for your loved one. Make sure the alert button is waterproof so that they can wear it in the bathroom. Encourage your loved one to press the button if they fall or get hurt, even if the damage is minor. Better to be safe than sorry.
7. Adjust water heater temperature.
The water heater temperature should never exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water gets too hot, it can scald the skin. Elderly people have sensitive skin but are not always able to detect changes in temperature. Lowering the water heater temperature also prevents elderly people with arthritic hands or poor grip strength from accidentally turning the water on too hot.
8. Easy-grab faucet handles in shower and sink.
Some bath and sink faucets are difficult for seniors with arthritic hands to use. Replace the faucet with handles that are easy to grip and use. Lever handle faucets are easier to use than handles that require pulling or twisting. Make sure the faucet also indicates directions for hot and cold water temperature.