Preventing Falls in the Bathroom

December 8, 2014

senior safety tipsDespite what the “rest” portion of the word restroom might suggest, the process of using the bathroom can actually pose a variety of challenges and safety risks for an elderly or disabled individual. The combination of slick surfaces, hard floors, fixtures and water can easily create the perfect storm for a dangerous slip and fall, leading to broken bones, bad sprains or worse. Fortunately there are a variety of modifications to floors, walls, sinks and tubs, that can help prevent falls in the bathroom.

Follow these helpful tips for preventing falls in the bathroom to minimize the risk of injury for elderly and disabled adults.

  1. Make the shower and tub accessible

Modifying the entrance to the tub or shower with a low lip or entry point, allows seniors to easily step in and out without having to step up very high. A shower chair or bath bench can also help reduce slips by giving them a secure seat on which to bathe. By replacing showerheads with a handheld mechanism will help increase accessibility while minimizing movement.

  1. Install Grab Bars

Installing grab bars next to the toilet helps to assist elderly individuals with sitting down and getting up steadily and safely. A bar in the shower or tub also helps to provide the security for them to bath independently. Be sure a professional or someone with extensive experience securely anchors the bars to a wall stud.

  1. Add Non-Slip Mats

Rubber, non-slip mats should always be placed on the floor of the tub and shower and on the floor of the bathroom, especially where floor tiles are installed.

  1. Elevated and Adjustable Toilet Seats

The standard height of toilet seats can create problems for many elderly and disabled adults, especially those with arthritis, hip, knee, or back problems. Raising the seat by an a few inches, using padded seats, elevated extensions, and replacement seats with handles, can dramatically reduce the risk of falls and increase accessibility.  Also consider using soft close seats to eliminate the need to bend down while closing the seat and risk compromising balance.

  1. Improve Lighting Options

Installing a night light can help reduce limited vision and the risks of fumbling in the dark, tripping over hazards and resulting falls. Some bathrooms may need additional lighting options that are more accessible and provide better visibility.

These are some essential modifications that can be made to help prevent falls in the bathroom for seniors and disabled individuals. Other minor adjustments can also be made, including the use of shower caddies to minimize the clutter of bath products, and liquid soap to reduce the risk of reaching for dropped soap bars, can also help to improve safety and independence in the bathroom.

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