March 11, 2020
Bathrooms can be dangerous for older adults. Learn how to conduct a safety assessment of your senior loved one’s bathroom here.
From handwashing to showering, people spend a lot of time in their bathroom.
What’s surprising is how dangerous the smallest room in the house can be. Every year, nearly 235,000 people over the age of 15 are admitted to a hospital emergency room due to a bathroom mishap.
For older adults, the bathroom can be especially hazardous.
More than 81 percent of their injuries are caused by falls. With 19.3 percent of injuries amongst people aged 65–74 occurring on or near it, the toilet is the most commonplace for a senior to fall. For adults over the age of 85, that number soars to 36.9 percent.
What steps can an adult child take to lower their senior parent’s risk of injury in the bathroom?
The key is to conduct a safety assessment to determine what safety measures your aging family member’s bathroom needs.
How to Assess a Senior’s Bathroom for Potential Hazards
1. Does the bathroom have adequate lighting?
Falls often occur when we can’t see properly. Vision problems common among older adults can further compound the issue. From cataracts to glaucoma, the room can look darker than it really is.
Ensure the bathroom and the hallway leading to it have adequate lighting. Nightlights that illuminate the path to the bathroom after dark is essential. Also, consider installing a motion sensor on the bathroom light so it turns on the second someone enters the room.
2. Is the flooring slip-proof?
Carpeting the bathroom floor might be the safest option for avoiding a fall. The downside is wall-to-wall carpeting can provide a place for mold and mildew to linger. That can present a different kind of health hazard.
A better option might be nonskid flooring. Some newer types of vinyl flooring are designed to be less slippery. Cork and bamboo are two additional options to explore.
3. Does the bathroom have sturdy grab bars?
Installing grab bars near the toilet as well as inside and outside of the tub may prevent falls in two areas where they occur most often. When they aren’t in place, an older adult may try to pull themselves up using towel bars. Since most towel bars aren’t designed for that, they may pull away from the wall, causing the senior to fall.
4. Is there a safe shower for the senior to use?
Climbing in and out of the tub to bathe or shower can create a fall risk at any age, but especially for older adults. Installing a step-free shower or modifying the senior’s tub to be barrier-free are other safety tips to consider.
Installing a shower chair and a non-skid mat on the shower or tub floor can also help keep the bathroom safer.
5. Would the senior benefit from a raised toilet seat?
A raised seat makes it easier for seniors to get on and off the toilet without falling. Installing one in an older adult’s bathroom reduces the chance of a fall in this high-risk area, especially for those with balance issues. Some raised toilet seats also have padded arms for greater safety.
The seats are easy to install and can be purchased at your local pharmacy or home improvement store.
Legacy Communities Offer a Safe Environment for Residents
Sometimes it isn’t feasible to modify an older adult’s home. Moving to an independent or assisted living community makes more sense. Not only do communities like Legacy Senior Living offer a safe environment, but they also offer benefits like healthy meals, social activities, and wellness programs.
With communities in six southeastern states, Legacy has a variety of options from which to choose. Call the location nearest you to schedule a private tour today!