One in three seniors over the age of 65 will experience at least one fall annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the home for the elderly. Slick floors, small spaces, sharp edges and few things to grasp make mobility difficult and increase chances for dangerous falls.
Unable to complete everyday tasks with the same mobility they once had, many senior homeowners are left with unsafe measures to prevent falling in the bathroom. These may include insufficiently secured towel racks that could fall when gripped for support, shower chairs that are not slip resistant and sliding shower doors that could move unexpectedly when entering and exiting the tub.
We all want seniors to live safely and comfortably in every part of their homes. It's important that senior homeowners are aware of the challenges independent living can present and take the appropriate precautions, especially in the bathroom where most falls occur.
Try these tips on what to install in the bathroom to keep it safe for loved ones so they can maintain an independent lifestyle with easier mobility.
- Equip showers and surrounding walls with sturdy grab bars anchored to wall studs so they can support the full weight of an adult. Some portable safety handles use super strong suction cups and are easy to apply and remove.
- Consider installing nonskid tape or mats on the floor of a shower or bathtub.
- A shower chair is also a safe solution that can be easily placed where balance is a challenge.
- Flexible handheld shower wands with an on/off button might be easier to use than a traditional shower head. These are especially useful in combination with shower chairs.
- Toilets can be replaced with ADA-approved raised-height models to lessen the chance of a harsh fall. Alternatively, raised-height seats can be installed on existing toilets.
- Get a medical alert system with an extra waterproof medical alert button to keep in the bathroom at all times.
- Check temperature settings on water heaters, as water hotter than 120 F can scald skin. Special no-scald faucets or a no-scald regulator can be installed as a secondary layer of protection.
- Some faucet handles are difficult for arthritic hands to grip and turn. These should be replaced with models that are easier for seniors to use.
A study by the Home Safety Council found that falls are the leading cause of home injury-related deaths among older adults. Making simple home installations can make day-to-day living for seniors easier, reduce their risk of falling and give peace of mind to those close to them. Most of these devices can be installed by most anyone and are recommended for overall safety and optimal mobility for seniors.
Information provided by: Medical Care Alert and Bath Fitters