October 15, 2014

Bathroom Safety for Seniors

The statistics are frightening about falls for seniors.  The Centers for Disease Control reports that “One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year.”  This resulted in the following numbers compiled in 2010. “2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults that were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.”  These are not the statistics we want for our senior loved ones.  While the CDC doesn’t track where the falls occur in the home, they do warn that the biggest hazards for the elderly exist in the bathroom where marble, tile, and other surfaces are usually prone to being slippery.  Let;s look at some fairly easy ways to make the bathroom less hazardous for your senior loved one.

  1. Provide adequate lighting including a nightlight that automatically goes on when the natural light dims.  Seniors tend to use the bathroom in the middle of the night when they are less alert and focused.  Lighting will help them see what they are doing.
  2. Install Grab Bars instead of having seniors use towel racks that are not meant to hold much weight more than a towel.  These bars can provide stability and balance while getting in and out of the shower or getting up and down off the toilet.
  3. Apply Safety Treads. Adhere safety treads in the tub basin so slips in the shower are less likely. In addition do not have throw mats in the bathroom.  They just add one more thing a senior can trip over.
  4. Handheld shower and shower seats.  Many seniors report feeling off balance in the shower and vulnerable.  Plastic shower seats are a small investment for a feeling of security in the shower.  The handheld shower spray will then allow for easy use.
  5. Toilet seat adapters. A higher toilet seat makes it easier to sit and to rise. Various configurations exist — raised plastic seats, for instance, or platforms that lift the entire toilet.

Making a few inexpensive changes to the bathroom may mean your senior can maintain their independence a while longer. These preventative measures may prevent your loved one from becoming one of the statistics of slips and falls.