Bathroom Upgrades to Help Prevent Falls

Did you know once you hit the age of 65, your chances of falling and injuring yourself rise drastically? Roughly 1 out of 4 older adults will experience a fall with thousands landing in the hospital because of it. Hip and other bone fractures, lacerations, bruising, and other complications from falling are blamed for the hospitalization and even death of many older adults, especially those over 80.

Where do most falls take place? You guessed it . . . in the home. Not only is the home environment the most used by an elderly person, but it can be full of trip hazards like cords on the floor, turned up corners of rugs and carpets, elevated doorways, bad lighting, tricky staircases, and slippery walking environments. One of the most dangerous areas of the house when it comes to falls is definitely the bathroom.

Bathrooms are often more cramped with little space for maneuvering, especially if you use a mobility device. The sitting on and standing up from the toilet requires balance and coordination, as does getting in and out of the bath or shower. Compound those factors with a walking surface susceptible to having water from the sink or bath on it, and you have a recipe for disaster.

When it comes to making the bathroom a safer place for older adults, don’t forget these 4 upgrades:

Lighting

For many seniors, sensory impairment accompanies the natural aging process, making the need for quality and bright lighting vital. Dim and dark doorways and walkways increase risk for falling, so when it comes to the bathroom, don’t forget these lighting tips:

  • Light switches should exist both immediately outside and inside the bathroom door to make turning lights on and off easy and accessible.
  • Glow in the dark light switches on the walls as well as guide tape at the foot of the bathroom entrance way can provide even greater visibility.
  • Blinds or curtains should be placed over windows to reduce glare off of mirrors.
  • Lighting should be consistent from room to hallway to bathroom to make it easier for a senior’s eyes to adjust when entering different rooms

Grab Bars

Installing grab bars and railings around key areas of the bathroom can provide the support and stability a senior needs to be able to move around with ease and independence. Grab bars offer a wide-surfaced railing that is connected to the wall and can be used to help balance when standing up from the toilet for example or coming in and out of the shower.

Raised toilet seats will even have their own hand-holds/grab bars on either side to ease the sitting and standing motions. Grab bars will vary in size, angle, and placement depending on the needs of the senior using them, and their very existence in a home with a senior has been shown to help reduce fear of falling altogether.

Shower Chair

An estimated two-thirds of accidental injuries actually happen in the bathtub or shower. In addition to being a generally slippery and slick environment, bathing without eyewear or diminished eyesight (as many seniors have) also removes visual acuity and depth perception which are required for proper balance and coordination.

A may be as simple as a waterproof stool or as advanced as a waterproof bench chair with a back and side rails to hold onto. A surface on which to sit in the shower allows an older adult to  take some of the load off their already weakened or stiff legs, helps them balance better while bathing, and even makes it easier to sit and swing legs into and out of the shower when starting and finishing up.

Non-slip Bath Adhesives

Adding better traction to slick surfaces in the bathroom is easy with non-slip bath mats, strips, and shower treads. These nifty and often inexpensive bathroom upgrades can be bought at online or in most home improvement stores. These types of non-slip utility aids often adhere to shower or bathroom floor with suction cups or adhesive, and offer a comfortable and skid-resistant rubber finish with which to stand and walk on.

Preventing falls in the home is a mix of both upgrading the environment as well as honing the strength, flexibility, and coordination of seniors aging in place. With the right tools and devices, from better lighting to shower chairs and grab bars, seniors and their caregivers can stress a little less knowing the risk for falls is decreased.

 

Image courtesy of [marin] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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