Everyone use the bathroom every day. It’s as regular a routine as eating and sleeping. However, the vast majority of us feel a little embarrassed discussing what we do in the bathroom. Naturally, for most, it’s a private affair. Seniors, however, may have some trepidation in discussing their bathroom routines because of how scary they are to perform.
It should go without saying that the mobility issues experienced by older adults can make bathroom visits dangerous. Slippery floors, tight spaces and hard surfaces can make the bathroom a potentially hazardous area of the home. However, with a few simple modifications and precautions, older adults can maintain their independence and stay safe while using their bathrooms.
Make surfaces less slippery.
Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of injuries for seniors in the bathroom. To minimize the risk of slipping, install non-slip mats or adhesive strips on the bathroom floor to provide added traction. Also, place a non-slip mat inside the bathtub or shower. This can help prevent falls while bathing. Ensuring that wet surfaces are promptly dried and using non-slip bathmats can further reduce the chances of accidents caused by slippery floors.
“The easiest way to make your shower floor less slippery is to add traction by installing an anti-slip shower mat,” writes Andrew Palermo for Prudent Reviews, “They’re cheap, easy to install, and immediately add texture to your floor, which significantly reduces your chances of slipping.”
Offer greater support and stability.
Getting in and out of the bathtub or shower can be challenging for seniors who have limited mobility or balance issues. Installing grab bars near the tub or shower can provide crucial support and stability. A shower chair or bench can also be added to make bathing safer and more comfortable. For added convenience, handheld showerheads can be installed. They allow seniors to sit while bathing and reach difficult areas without straining.
“A grab bar should be able to support a person weighing up to 250 pounds,” informs Jayson Breckheimer for New York’s McClurg Remodeling & Construction Services, “The height, weight and ability of users should be considered when choosing products to install. Generally, grab bars are installed 33-to-36 inches from the shower floor. The height, position and location of the bar can be adjusted for users.”
Give the toilet some height.
The simple acts of getting down to and getting up from a seated position can be very difficult for some older folks. This is what makes using a toilet can so problematic. The combination of low height and a lack of support mean that help is needed. Raised toilet seats can be installed to make sitting and standing easier. These seats elevate the toilet height, reducing the strain on joints and muscles.
What are the top reasons to install a raised toilet seat? We would list them as reduced strength and mobility in the legs and hips; a recent hip replacement, knee or back surgery; a recent accident or injury; and balance issues.
Brighten things up a bit.
Dim or inadequate lighting in the bathroom can increase the risk of accidents. Seniors with vision impairments may struggle to see obstacles or lose their balance in poorly lit areas. Ensuring proper lighting by installing bright LED lights can significantly improve bathroom safety. Nightlights can also be added to illuminate the path during nighttime bathroom visits, reducing the chances of trips or falls.
“According to research, about one in three elderly adults has ‘some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the age of 65,’ ranging from macular degeneration, to cataracts, to complications from diabetes,” reports Chicago’s Companions For Seniors, “An underlit home can increase the probability of suffering a major fall.”
Better maintain medications.
Most often, the bathroom is where seniors take their medications. Obviously, mishandling medications can lead to serious health consequences. It is crucial to organize medications properly and keep them in a secure, easily accessible location. Using pill organizers or setting reminders on mobile devices can help seniors remember to take their medications at the right time.
It may also be a good idea to avoid storing medications in the bathroom. Consider the fact that humidity and temperature fluctuations can affect their potency. Instead, keep medications in a cool, dry place that is easy to access prior to bathroom use.
Be mindful of water temperature.
Hot water poses a scalding risk for seniors. This is especially true for those whose skin may be more sensitive. MyHealth.Alberta.ca recommends a maximum water temperature of 43 degrees Celcius to prevent accidental burns. The site also points out that “age, some medications, or health conditions like diabetes can make your skin less sensitive to temperature. You can burn yourself before you realize the water is too hot.”
Consider installing anti-scald devices or thermostatic mixing valves in the shower. They can help regulate water temperature and protect against sudden fluctuations, ensuring a comfortable and safe bathing experience.
Prepare for potential emergencies.
Seniors should have easy access to a phone in case of falls or other emergencies. An emergency call button system can be a valuable investment for immediate assistance. Keeping a first aid kit well-stocked and within reach can also help address minor injuries promptly.
“Create a group text or a phone call chain (a plan in which you make an initial call to one person, who then calls the next person, and so on),” suggests HealthinAging.org, “This will make sure that all relatives and friends know what is happening in the event of an emergency.”
Contact Advantage Home Health Solutions for help!
We offer a variety of bathroom safety products! They include commodes, bath seats and bath boards, transfer benches, grab bars, toilet safety frames, bath lifts, and accessible tubs and showers. Our team always ensures that you have the complete picture to make an informed decision. You’ll know all of the possible options so you can choose which solution is best for you.
To learn more, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 403-460-5438. You may also email us by filling out the form on our Contact page!