How do we make one of the most unsafe areas in the home more elderly friendly and safe? We are talking about the bathroom. The bathroom presents many opportunities for falling, leading to an increased risk of injury. What safety precautions can you put in place to decrease the possibility of a fall?
Try and put yourself in the shoes of your loved one. Balance and stability can be an issue, vision may be compromised. Wet floors make the bathroom slippery and high pile rugs make it difficult to navigate. Tile or wood flooring (wood being the softer of the two in case of a fall) are good choices -- no tripping hazard and easy to clean. Recommendations for indoor/outdoor carpeting are okay if your elder does not have accidents. The more porous the surface, the harder it is to remove odors.
Another fall prevention tactic is to install grab bars to provide more stability around key places such as the shower and toilet. These are relatively inexpensive and you may be able to install them yourself.
Consider the fact that your elder’s skin is thinner, thus more fragile and more susceptible to burns. Faucets with paddles or levers are easier to control than ones with knobs. You can install an anti-scald device to prevent water from reaching temperatures that are hot enough to burn the skin. You can also turn down the temperature of the hot water heater.
Finally, do some research and if you are able to, install a good disability bath or shower. You can find a bath or shower that is wheelchair accessible, sideless, and supportive based on your needs, reducing the risk of tripping and falling. These units can also provide anti-scald technology, safety chairs, easy to reach controls, hand-held shower heads, safety bars, and anti-slip flooring.
Some of these changes can make a difference in the safety of your bathroom and the comfort that you and your loved one will feel when it is in use. There are companies who specialize in home modifications for the elderly and many offer a free safety inspection and estimate.
If you have any questions or would like to be in touch with a Senior Care Authority Advisor in your area call (888) 854-3910 for a no-cost phone consultation. We have many resources to share with you. You can also find a local advisor on our website at www.seniorcareauthority.com.
Written by Marcy Baskin: Elder Care Manager, Family Coach, and Managing Director of Senior Care Authority. She is also the author of Assisted Living: Questions I Wish I Had Asked.