Falls in a home can result in minor injuries or may even become fatal, but a fall in the bathroom is a commonplace where people can get hurt. Take the necessary steps to increase bathroom safety for seniors who want to live independent lives. A few simple and inexpensive changes to your bathroom can decrease your chances of injury and make it a safer place. It’s also advisable to bring your cell phone or emergency alert gadget to the bathroom with you in case you fall and require immediate assistance.
Some medical conditions like diabetes make your skin less sensitive to water temperatures so ensure you turn the cold water on first and off last when having a shower and be sure to check the water temperature in a bath before climbing in. Do not grab onto the tap when entering the tub but hold onto a grab bar for better balance. Some seniors find it difficult to get into and out of the tub without assistance so it will become necessary to follow the tips listed below to prevent serious or fatal falls.
Improve Bathroom lighting
Place a nightlight outside and inside the bathroom to keep it well lit. Poor visibility due to inadequate lighting can also increase the risk of a fall so ensure the bathroom is well lit and the path from the bathroom to the bedroom has adequate lighting.
Non-slip-mats and bath mats
Use a non-slip mat that has a rubber back in your tub to prevent slipping. Rinse off your bath mat regularly as soap buildup will prevent it from securing snugly to the tub. Add a nonslip rug or mat on the floor in front of the tub, toilet, and sink to minimize the risk of falling on a slippery wet floor. Ensure your bathroom floor is free and clear of towels, face cloths and clothing, and other items to prevent tripping.
Install a Shower caddy
Install a shower caddy for holding toiletry items that can be accessed without stretching or bending. Install it at arm’s height so it’s easier to grab shampoos and soaps. Wall-mounted shower caddies are easy to refill and you don’t have to worry about shampoo bottles or soap falling out of your hands and into the bathtub or shower.
Install Grab bars
A wet slippery surface can be a hazard in your bathroom, so install grab bars in the shower, by the toilet, and other places in your bathroom but make sure they are installed properly and do not pull away from the wall when force is applied. A properly installed grab bar is essential for seniors who have difficulty getting into and out of a bathtub and provide assistance for better balance. Grabbing onto a towel rack for balance is not advisable and is not designed to support your full weight and could come to loose from the wall resulting in a fall.
Shower chair – transfer bench or walk-in tub
A shower chair or bench provides a place to sit and rest while showering as some seniors have difficulty standing and staying balanced. Purchase a chair with rubber tips on the legs to prevent slipping and sliding in the tub.
Raised toilet seat or install a taller toilet
A taller toilet with a grab bar nearby anchored to the wall will give a senior something to hold onto while raising and lowering themselves onto the toilet. Traditional toilets may be too low for a senior who has problems getting up and down. Also, a raised toilet seat provides better access by a few inches and provides assistance for getting up and down. Again ensure a grab bar is handy to reduce falls.
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|Roy Thomas SRES® (Senior’s Real Estate Specialist) is a REALTOR® with Sutton Group Professional Realty. Since 1991 Roy specializes in helping retirees with their later in life real estate transactions. If you are contemplating a move and would like a complimentary copy of Roy’s guide to downsizing entitled “Preparing to Downsize” please click here|