For many seniors, staying at home is the most economical and desirable living arrangement. But without proper preparation, home can also be surprisingly dangerous. Consider these facts:
- 6 out of every 10 falls happens at home
- 1 out of 3 adults over 65 will get injured in fall
- Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal and fatal injuries in elderly adults
The good news is that many home injuries are preventable. The bathroom is a great place to start. With hard, slick surfaces that frequently get wet and slippery, bathrooms can be danger zones. A little work, however, goes a long way toward creating a safe, comfortable environment.
Senior-proofing your bathroom: Small projects
These projects and purchases can be completed by most homeowners in a weekend, and make a big difference in your loved one’s safety.
- Put non-slip pads or strips on the bathtub or shower floor.
- Remove bathmats or area rugs that could cause trips and falls.
- Install grab bars and/or safety rails in the bath or shower and near the toilet. Safety bars should be long and wide enough to grasp easily, be covered in a non-slippery grip, and be well-anchored enough to hold an adult’s weight.
- Get a toilet safety frame or raised seat to add stability while using the toilet. Two options are molded plastic and the adjustable variety; both will add between 3 and 6 inches to the toilet.
- Buy a shower stool, seat, or transfer bench. It should have a rigid seat and back, and rubber tips on the feet to prevent slipping.
- Make sure toiletries and supplies are within easy reach.
- Set the water heater to 120 degrees or lower to prevent scalding.
- Add nightlights or motion lighting to the bathroom to ensure it’s well lit even at night. Think about lighting the path from your loved one’s bedroom to the bathroom.
- Don’t forget to ensure that any and all light switches are easily accessible.
Senior-proofing your bathroom: Bigger projects
These projects may require professional help, but can also play a big role in making your loved one’s bathroom as safe as possible.
- Hang the door so that it opens outwards in case of a fall (if necessary). Remove any door locks.
- Install a hand-held shower nozzle, which can be simpler to use while sitting down.
- Replace glass shower doors with plastic or shower curtains.
- Create a tub cut out. Lower one side of the tub so that it’s easier for seniors to get in and out.
- Install a walk-in tub.
Remaining in the home can provide seniors with a strong sense of comfort and confidence. By following the tips listed above, you can help make sure that your loved one stays safe as well as satisfied.