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Bathroom Safety Tips for the Elderly

If you want to make your bathroom safe you should take care of lighting and install grab rails, raise the toilet seat or install tall toilets. Improve accessibility and keep your floor dry and clean. Most important, don’t rush, take your time. Check other tips for safety in the bathroom.

Bathrooms can be one of the most dangerous rooms for seniors. You might not only slip in the shower or on a wet floor but also the bathroom tends to have smooth hard surfaces everywhere. These are perfect for banging your head or breaking a hip. And it isn’t only fall hazards that cause problems.

Often the bathroom and toilet are the only lockable rooms in the house. And, mechanical locks sometimes break with age potentially imprisoning an elderly person in the room.  

How to Make Your Bathroom Safer?

Follow a few simple guidelines and the bathroom will no longer be an accident waiting to happen. You’ll be able to use it and relax in the knowledge that you’ve done everything possible to make it safe.

RELATED: Home modifications for the elderly

Install grab Bars

Grab bars will allow you to hold on to something if you’re climbing in and out of the tub or the shower cubicle. Install one by the toilet as well to help support your weight when sitting down. They’re also useful if you feel yourself about to lose your balance.

Make sure they’re fitted to the walls properly and use the correct wall fixings as they’ll have to support the weight of a fully grown adult.

Use non-Slip mats

Use specially designed rubber mats for the bathtub or shower to help prevent slipping. To be on the safe side, make sure they cover the entire bathtub floor. You can usually buy them very cheaply from discount stores or online.

While you’re at it, use a rubber backed non-slip rug for the bathroom floor. Not only will it help prevent slipping, but it will also make the bathroom floor feel warmer to bare feet and give you something padded to fall on if the worst happens.

Improve accessibility

Whenever you use the bathroom, make sure everything is within reach and you don’t have to bend or stretch. This includes towels, clothing and other commonly used items like shampoo, soap; toothpaste, and washcloths.

Lighting

It’s amazing how poor lighting can cause slips and falls. Someone might not notice there is a pool of water or a piece of soap on the smooth floor and the next thing you know, you’re falling onto a hard bathroom floor.  Adequate lighting is even more essential if the senior has mobility problems, balance issues, or impaired vision.

To be safe, it’s not only the room itself that needs adequate lighting. Seniors often need to make visits to the toilet in the middle of the night, so fix night lights along the route, to show the way.

Use bath Seating

This is one of the best ways to ensure safety in the bathroom, especially if you combine it with grab rails. You can use them in the shower or the bathtub and it allows you to wash without fear of falling or losing balance. They are available in a range of different styles and colors to suit most budgets.

Install walk-in Tub

A walk-in tub is a luxury that, if you can afford it, is well worth the money. It allows you to walk into an empty tub, close the door and sit. Fill the tub and relax, secure in the knowledge that you don’t have to stand up or climb out of a slippery bath at the end of it. Just drain the water, open the door and step out. Simple!

Raise the Toilet seat

Seniors often find difficulty in lowering themselves onto a standard toilet seat or standing up again afterwards. Joint pain, artificial hips and knees, and many other conditions require using a raised toilet seat. These are simple to install and can be removed for thorough cleaning if necessary.

Keep the floor Dry and Clear

If you can manage to keep the bathroom floor dry you’ll go a long way to maintain bathroom safety. A wet floor is slippery and can be dangerous even if the floor is merely damp. Use non-slip rugs to stand on after showering and while drying, and make sure to wipe up any spills as soon as they occur.

Removing any items that can cause trips and slips is essential in any bathroom. Debris, clothes and towels can make a person stumble and fall leading to a potentially serious injury. A clear floor is even more important if the senior has impaired vision.

Lower the Water Temperature

Sometimes elderly people have problems noticing if things are too hot or cold. Reduce the temperature of hot water not only in the bathroom but at every faucet through the house. A temperature of about 120 degrees Fahrenheit or 50 degrees Celsius will take about 5 minutes to cause third-degree burns.

However, remember that many bacteria, including Legionella, thrive in water stored at temperatures up to 140 degrees (60 degrees Celsius). So, it’s better to speak to your registered plumber about having thermostatic mixing valves fitted to reduce the water temperature at the point of use to a safe maximum by adding cold water.

Your plumber will know the legally required maximum water temperature in your state, so be guided by the professional.

Have supervision Available

In some cases, a senior might find bathing, toileting and simple hygiene practices difficult to do unaided. If this sounds familiar, the best way to keep safe in the bathroom and toilet is to have the care of a loved one or a professional caregiver. Having someone nearby or in the bathroom with you greatly reduces the chance of serious injury.

Have a seat Handy

Standing for a long time can be very wearing for a senior. Washing and brushing teeth can take a long time and be very tiring, especially at the end of the day. Having a seat available helps ease fatigue while washing. A chair is also useful when drying off after a shower.

It’s essential to dry every part of the body otherwise you’ll have various fungal skin problems to contend with. Being able to sit while drying feet and toes, reduces the problems associated with balance issues and allows thorough drying in all the nooks and crannies.

Take your Time

If you’re in the bathroom, don’t rush. Enjoy the experience, take your time and you’ll reduce the accidents that happen by rushing and not taking care. It’s a fact, that we put ourselves at risk of falling if we rush around and being in the bathroom is no exception to this.

What’s next?

Hopefully, this article provided you with some great ideas so that you can make your bathroom safer. If you want to prevent yourself from falls make sure to check the article on how to make senior-friendly home.

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