If your elderly parents are living at home or moving into your family's home, it is important to improve the safety in each room they will be using. One of the most common areas of the home that typically requires safety modifications is the bathroom. Falling is the primary cause of injuries among seniors and the bathroom is one of the most at risk places in your home for falls to happen.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to improve the bathroom safety for your elderly loved ones:
It is common for people to place rugs on the bathroom floor; however, slipping on a rug can be dangerous. Rugs should be removed from the bathroom and an anti-slip mat used instead. For added safety, consider installing textured tile, such as rubber or cork, which has a slightly rougher texture than standard flooring tiles.
Light up the Room
There must be sufficient lighting in the bathroom as well as the pathway leading into the bathroom. Use nightlights in the hallway and overhead lighting in the bathroom. A good investment to consider is motion lighting, which is beneficial for those who use a walker or have difficulty reaching the light switch from a wheelchair.
Room to Move
When remodeling the bathroom for an elderly person, having enough space is essential. The doorways should be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and the floor space should be large enough for the person to have a clear area to the toilet, bathtub, sink and cabinets.
Safe and Comfortable Toilet
Having a toilet that is the appropriate height will make a great difference in the safety and comfort of the bathroom. There are two common options; install a seat extender, which is basically a higher, more cushioned toilet seat that is used to replace the existing seat or replace the toilet with a handicap accessible toilet. A handicap toilet is higher than a standard toilet, so it is easier to lower onto or transfer from a wheelchair.
Shower and Bathtub
The majority of homes have a bathtub that is difficult for elderly people to get in and out of, which presents a big safety problem. One of the best solutions is installing elderly care tubs. These walk-in tubs are designed specifically for elderly and/or disabled people who have difficulties stepping over a standard bathtub to get and out of the bath or shower.
This type of bathtub has a low-level step, anti-slip flooring, grip handles and a comfortable seat:
- Install grab bars
- Use a shower seat
- Apply anti-slip coating on the shower floor
- Install a hand-held shower head
When addressing the safety features of an elderly person, it is also important to remember to adjust the temperature of the hot water to prevent burns. Also consider using a motion controlled faucet, switching from bar soap to bottle soap and lowering the towel bars for easier access.