One out of every three adults age 65 and older fall each year, with falls being the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among those in that age category, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent and reduce the risk of slips, falls and other accidents, particularly in the bathroom.
We’ve put together a list of the 10 essential bathroom safety tips that can help reduce the risk for bathroom injuries.
1. Update existing bathroom to ADA handicap bathroom
Use the Americans With Disabilities Act’s specifications as a guideline to update an existing bathroom with grab bars, lever handles for the door(s) and more. If planning a full bathroom remodel these guidelines will help your contractor with grab bar placement, doorway dimensions to accommodate a wheelchair as well as other clearance specifications for an ADA-compliant sink, toilet and tub/shower.
2. Grab bars
Handicap rails for bathroom walls near the toilet and both inside and outside of the tub or shower help provide stability for seniors and anyone else with limited mobility.
3. Remove loose throw rugs
Throw rugs add to the warmth and décor of a bathroom, but present a slip-and-fall hazard to seniors and others with limited mobility. Remove the loose throw rugs, especially from in front of the shower or tub. Replace with a non-skid, latex-coated mat to provide firmer footing.
4. Tub and shower seats
Increase comfort and stability in the tub or shower by adding a seat or bench. Different seat styles will meet specific needs and fit the existing shape and size of tub/shower. A tub chair with a back offers additional support and comfort, while an inside/outside transfer bench makes it easier for a bather to sit on the bench outside the tub and then slide across to sitting inside the tub. Consider a seat that is mounted securely in place for added stability.
5. Non-slip strips/mat inside tub and shower
Even if using grab bars and a shower seat, it’s best to also install non-slip strips or a stay-put suction mat to the floor of the tub and shower. Even when dry, the floor of the tub and/or shower can be slick and a fall hazard.
6. Hand-held shower wand?
A hand-held shower head is simple to install and essential for the bather using a tub seat. It allows you to direct the water where you want it to go and even to adjust the force of the water as needed.
7. Increase the lighting
Utilize bathroom lighting that is bright and natural, not glaring. A light switch by the door is best. Keep a nightlight at sink level to provide additional light. There should also be ample lighting in or next to the shower and tub because nobody wants to bath in a dim, dark space.
8. Raise the toilet seat
For any senior suffering from mobility issues, arthritis or back, hip or knee problems, maneuvering down to a standard height toilet can be a challenge. Adding an adjustable toilet seat to make it higher can help.
Often bottles and tubes of personal care items can look similar. Adding your own, larger print label that is clear and easy-to-read can reduce the risk of potentially dangerous product mix-ups.
10. Single-lever faucets
A single-lever faucet makes it easier to control water temperatures, reducing the risk of scalds and burns.