My dad’s 90th birthday is coming up. He lives alone, and I am a little concerned about his safety. His mobility has decreased over the years, and I am worried about him falling. I heard a lot of falls that happen in the home occur in the bathroom.
For his birthday, I am thinking about helping my dad make a few adjustments to his bathroom to make it safer. How do I assess a senior’s bathroom for safety?
Joyce from Holland, MI
Assessing a Senior’s Bathroom for Safety
It’s understandable why you might worry about a senior loved one who lives alone. Falls are a leading cause of injury for seniors. One in four American seniors falls every year and up to 80 percent of falls in the home happen in the bathroom. Fortunately, many falls are preventable. Here are a few tips to help you assess a senior’s bathroom to reduce their risk of falling.
6 Tips for Preventing Falls in the Bathroom
- Keep floor surfaces slip-free.
Floor tiles, bathtubs, and the shower platform can become slippery when wet. Keeping them slip-resistant is an essential step in preventing accidents. Here are a few tips to keep bathroom surfaces safe:
- Place non-skid mats or non-slip strips on the bathtub and shower floors.
- Use slip-free rugs to step on when exiting the bath or shower.
- Replace the floor with a slip-resistant material like rubber or non-slip vinyl.
- Be mindful of where you store items.
The constant need to reach and bend down to access items can increase the risk of an accident. Keep your loved one’s most-used items in easy-to-reach places. These include toilet paper, towels, and soap.
- Replace towel bars with grab bars.
Grab bars can be particularly helpful for seniors with balance or mobility challenges. These are most helpful near the shower and toilet.
- Invest in a barrier-free shower.
A raised entrance to the tub or shower is another tripping hazard. Walk-in bathtubs and showers are easier to get in and out of. Consider installing one to reduce your loved one’s chances of falling.
- Install a raised toilet seat.
Seniors with reduced strength or mobility may struggle to get on and off a low toilet. Installing a higher toilet seat or adding a seat extender to their existing toilet is a simple way to make their experience more comfortable.
- Ensure there is adequate lighting.
Proper lighting is vital throughout the entire home, but especially in areas your loved one commonly visits after dark. To keep your loved one safe, make sure they can easily access light switches as they enter the bathroom. Night-lights can also be useful in areas like this. You can even plug in night-lights that turn on automatically to ensure optimal safety.
Most Falls Are Preventable
Up to half of the falls that occur among seniors are due to environmental conditions, like poor lighting, slippery floors, and uneven surfaces. This suggests that although common, falling is often preventable. Hopefully, by using these tips, you can make your loved one’s bathroom safer and prevent them from falling.
Heritage Senior Communities Puts Senior Safety First
If your loved one is at risk of falling or you are concerned about their safety, you may want to explore senior living options. Many communities, including Heritage Senior Communities, are designed with safety in mind. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.