Safety in the bathroom is critical when it comes to the prevention of falls for older adults. The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the home. According to statistics provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), 80 percent of senior falls that occur in the home happen in the bathroom.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shares that a staggering 1.6 million seniors seek emergency assistance due to falls each year. The cause of a fall could be lack of balance, an obstacle on the floor that causes tripping, or slippery surfaces.
Injuries due to bathroom falls range from mild injuries to serious injuries. These types of accidents can be avoided by taking steps toward preventing falls. By implementing safety precautions, you can greatly reduce the chances of injury due to slips, trips, and falls.
Preventing Falls and Injuries with these Quick Tips
Here are a few bathroom safety tips for seniors to help avoid injury:
Tip #1 – Install Grab Bars: By installing grab bars in your tub or shower, older adults have something to grasp when entering and exiting the bathtub or shower. This can reduce the chances of a slip and/or fall during bathing. Grab bars can also be installed near the toilet to aid with leverage and balance.
Tip #2 – Nonslip Strips: In addition to the installation of grab bars, an affordable way to increase and improve bathroom safety is by putting nonslip strips in the bottom of the tub or shower. You could also consider a non-slip bathmat or non-slip tiles. You can find non-slip strips in many different home and department stores. Not only are these safe, but they can also make a fun and decorative addition to the bathroom.
Tip #3 – Avoid Throw Rugs: Eliminate throw rugs in the bathroom to avoid trips and falls, or consider installing rugs with grips on the bottom. However, to be extra safe, remove bathroom rugs all together as they are a tripping hazard.
Tip #4 – Lighting: Make sure the bathroom has ample lighting is key for preventing falls or other injuries. By keeping the room well lit, it’s easier to see if there’s anything on the floor that could become a hazard. Lighting is particularly important for seniors with vision problems or balance issues.
Tip #5 – Bath Seating: Bath seating in a shower or tub is a great bathroom safety tactic – and they can be easy to install. For extra safety, consider adding bath seating as well as a grab-bar, making it easy to enjoy a shower without the fear of falling. Bath seating is available in various styles to meet the needs of all seniors.
Tip #6 – Hand-Held Shower Handle: Consider investing in a hand-held shower handle in addition to bath seating for a shower that’s stress-free and safe. Shower handles improve bathroom safety, and also come with various settings for optimum relaxation and enjoyment in the shower or tub.
Tip #7 – Toilet Seat Riser: Toilet seat risers are great for toilets with low seating. By raising the seat with a toilet seat riser, you may prevent falling when using the restroom. These make wonderful additions to grab bars near the toilet area.
Tip #8 – Keep the Floor Clear: Make sure that the floor is kept clear and free of any debris or clothing that could become a hazard or cause a fall.
Tip #9 – Keep the Floor Dry: Keeping the floor dry in the bathroom is one of the simplest and most important things that you can do to maintain bathroom safety for older adults. If the floors are wet or damp, this becomes a hazard that could create a very dangerous situation.
Tip #10 – Don’t Rush: What’s the hurry? When we rush in life, we put ourselves at greater risk for falls or injury. Take your time in the bathroom.
If you don’t own your home or apartment, always refer to your tenant guide or landlord before installing equipment in your bathroom.
Anneliese Peterson wrote this blog. She is with Walker Methodist, a faith-based, non-profit senior living organization that’s been serving older adults since 1945.