As we get older, mobility can become an issue. For many seniors age 65 and older it can be difficult and dangerous to live an independent senior lifestyle. This can be frustrating, particularly if they must depend on a caregiver or family member for assistance.
Seniors must be careful of the potential hazards in the home such as stairs or slippery tile flooring. There are home modifications that “geri-proof” a house, making the home safer and more accessible for seniors. One of the most dangerous places for seniors in the home is also the most private—the bathroom.
According to the National Safety Council Injury Facts 2011 Edition, nearly 27,000 American seniors (65+) died from slip-and-fall accidents in their homes in 2009. Because the bathroom is a high-risk area, it needs to be reinforced with the proper modifications to fit the needs of the elderly resident. Here are the top five bathroom safety modifications for seniors.
Bathrooms Are Slippery
A simple and inexpensive upgrade is to install a non-slip vinyl (or rubber) bath mats in the tub or shower, as the added traction will decrease the chance of slipping and falling to an untimely demise. If you can afford it, install non-slip vinyl, rubber, cork or bamboo flooring or nice indoor/outdoor carpeting as to prevent any senior slippage. You can also add a shower seat or stool as an extra precaution.
Something to Lean On
A common bathroom modification for seniors is the installation of grab bars both in the tub or shower as well as around the bathroom near the toilet and sink. Seniors, even if not disabled may still have mobility issues. The grab bars are there to help them stabilize while standing, sitting and moving about.
Higher Toilet, Lower Sink
It is often difficult for seniors to get up from a sitting position, and using the toilet independently is important. To make it easier to sit down and get up, raise the toilet seat a bit. Keep in mind that a lot of seniors with mobility issues are bound in a wheelchair and cannot reach conventional bathroom sink heights. Lower the sink to make it more accessible to the elderly and/or disabled.
Showering Seniors Safely
A wet shower is a potential deathtrap for many seniors, particularly the octogenarians out there. The risk of slipping and falling is high with the odds not exactly in their favor.
They say not to pick up the soap in prison, but the same advice goes out to showering seniors that might lose his or her balance, which could be [shower] curtains for them. Instead of using bar soap, use body wash and bottled shampoo to avoid any unnecessary movement.
Also install an adjustable, removable handheld shower head, which will make it easier to rinse themselves.
Let There Be [More] Light!
Let’s face it, most of the elderly have terrible eyesight. Another drawback of aging. Since many seniors often use the bathroom in the dead of night, it would make sense to modify the bathroom with more light. There is a variety of energy-efficient light bulbs available for bathrooms. More light makes it easier for failing eyes to see.
Do you know of any other home bathroom safety modifications for seniors?