Bathroom Safety Tips for the Elderly

Falls are the source of most injuries in bathrooms. In one year, 234,000 people 15 and older visited emergency rooms due to injuries suffered in bathrooms. Most of these injuries were caused by falls. Older adults who live independently are at higher risk and falls can be especially dangerous for them. Here are some suggestions to help make the bathroom safer.

Install Grab Bars
Grab bars, also known as assist bars, are installed to help an individual easily and safely exit or enter a shower or bathtub. Though most commonly used to help those who are disabled or elderly, grab bars are useful for any shower/tub situation that is particularly slippery or steep. A grab bar is always mounted to a wall, not a glass shower door. It’s engineered and tested with quality fasteners to safely support about 350lbs, without pulling away from the wall.

Add a Shower Chair
A shower chair sit in the tub or shower and allows a person to take a shower while in a seated position rather than standing on the slippery bottom of the tub or shower.

Use Hand-Held Shower Wands
Hand-held shower heads work in concert with the shower chair making it easier to reach all parts of the body.

Install Non-Slip Shower/Tub Decals and Appliques
These decals and appliques come in all shapes and sizes and are easy for anyone to install … it is usually as easy as peel and stick. Also called shower safety treads or tub tattoos, these items can be found at almost every hardware store.

Replace Faucets
Less mobile adults and seniors can have difficulty with shower or tub handles. Replace them to make it easier to turn on and adjust the settings.

Adjust Water Temperature
Set the water temperature on the water heater to a safe range (both to kill bacteria and for human comfort), so that even if the temperature gets bumped to the highest setting, there is no danger of scalding. Unfortunately, this is tricky. The ideal water temperature is 140 degrees in order to kill bacteria in the water, however, at that temperature, it takes only 5 seconds for a nasty scald at maximum temperature. Many experts recommend installing at water mixer. This is a device which permits water to be heated to a desirable 140 degrees F that will kill harmful bacteria, but sets a lower maximum temperature to be distributed to faucet taps.

Remove Area Rugs and Other Obstructions
Area rugs have a nasty tendency to slide on hard surfaces. To prevent slips and falls, remove area rugs from the bathroom. Foot stools, magazine basket, chairs, towel rack, anything that might potentially might cause a slip or fall should be removed.

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