7 Tips for Creating a Senior-Friendly Bathroom Starting with Toilet Safety Rails
Updated for December, 2021
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) reports that one in every three senior citizens over 65 years suffers from a fall each year. Out of this value, about 80% of these unfortunate events happen in the bathroom. As a result of the slippery surfaces, cluttered floors, and an absence of support bars, bathrooms are a fall hazard and particularly so for persons suffering from reduced coordination and strength, as well as failing eyesight.
Thankfully, you can always make a couple of adjustments or a complete bathroom renovation to guarantee senior bathroom safety. For instance, you can add toilet safety rails, which provide extra stability. Here are seven tips to protect yourself and those you care about from bathroom falls, especially for seniors who require in-home care.
Tips to Make Your Bathroom Senior-Friendly
Rails incorporated on or around a toilet enhance support when one is using a toilet and are one of the most important additions to bathroom remodeling to make it more senior friendly.
Adding Toilet Safety Rails
Put simply, these are rails incorporated on or around a toilet, which enhance support when one is using a toilet and are one of the most important additions to bathroom remodeling to make it more senior friendly. They come in a range of types and styles, but we can classify them into two main categories—those that can be attached to a toilet and a free-standing frame, which is positioned around the toilet. We will sample a few of the best toilet safety rails:
Windsor Direct Foldeasy – As the name suggests, this toilet rail is easily foldable. Apart from reducing storage space, this feature makes the toilet rail portable. What’s more, the design of the Windsor Direct means that you don’t have to grapple with the cost of installing a permanent rail to your toilet. Other aspects you will like about this rail include the integrated footrest, the rear bar, and the rubber feet, which prevent floor damage.
Drive Medical Stand Alone – It’s an example of the stand-alone toilet frame. This one fits snugly around standard-sized toilets. If you don’t need the additional support, moving this safety rail from the toilet is a breeze. Some characteristics of this item are full-length armrests and a wide stable base.
Carex Health Brands FGB – This toilet rail also features a free-standing design. It’s incredibly easy for any senior to assemble this unit. What sets this toilet rail apart is that it has room to open the lid fully.
Drive Medical Safety – This rail mounts to your toilet with ease. But, what we loved most was the adjustability of the handles. You can change their width to between 16.5 and 19.5 inches. These toilet safety rails are perfect for tiny bathrooms and are designed to support more than 300 pounds of weight.
Making an effort to improve bathroom safety is necessary.
Cut the Clutter
Shower gels, lotions, drugs, and toothpaste – the number of items that we utilize in that small bathroom space can sometimes get out of hand. The problem is that if our bathroom shelves and counters are always filled with these products, there’s a high likelihood of knocking them to the floor at some point. When this happens, the elderly individual will have to bend over when reaching for the object. But, it’s not that easy. Seniors grapple with stiffness and mobility loss, meaning that such activities can easily cause them to lose their balance.
If you live with an elderly person, you should make a point of decluttering and reorganizing your bathroom. Ensure that items used on a day-to-day basis are easily accessible. More importantly, get rid of any products that are never used.
You should remove dirty and unused rugs. If there are rugs in the bathroom, ensure that they all have a slip-resistant rubber backing, which helps prevent slipping.
Although installing a walk-in tub can be a pricey affair, it’s a small price to pay for your safety.
Get a Walk-in Tub
Walk-in tubs are a safer option for seniors who don’t want to risk falling as they get into a bathtub. These tubs are different from regular bath tubs in that they have doors, which you have to open or close when entering and exiting the bath tub. This mechanism eliminates the hassle of lifting your legs as you get into a bathtub, subsequently, reducing the risk of falling. But a safety door is not only the only feature you’ll be getting from a walk-in tub. Other models are equipped with adjustable bubble jets, inside-the-tube seating and handrails. The only precaution is that you should not use the door to support yourself as it’s not designed to hold that much weight. And, although installing a walk-in tub can be a pricey affair, it’s a small price to pay for your safety.
The manufacturers of most shower benches design their products with ease and stability in mind.
Install a Quality Shower Bench
Having the capability to remain balanced as you shower is a factor that most of us take for granted. But as you age, this ability diminishes. It is why shower or transfer benches were invented. With a transfer bench, you can sit and rest comfortably and safely as you bathe. The manufacturers of most shower benches design their products with ease and stability in mind. Some come with armrests while others will have suction cups and height adjustment options.
Before investing in a transfer bench, there are a few aspects you should keep in mind. For one, you should check the chair’s weight capacity. Most shower benches can support up to 250 lbs., but in case you need more support, you’ll have to do a little research. You should also examine the size of the shower bench—that is, height, width and depth. It prevents you from getting a seat that does not fit into your shower.
Store Items Within Reach
When they’re in the bathroom, seniors should be able to access all their toiletry items with ease. This means that they should not have to stretch or bend just to get a particular item. One way to ensure that all their products are within arm’s reach is to install a shower caddy. The best types are those that can be mounted on the wall since the suction cup models tend to fall off the wall. Another idea is to incorporate a dispenser on the wall of the shower. This way, you won’t worry about shower gel bottles or bar soaps slipping from their hands during use. Moreover, it’s easy for the elderly to refill the dispensers.
Use Non-Slip Mats
The majority of bathroom accidents occur as the individual attempts to get in and out of a bath tub or shower. It’s a slippery area that’s prone to water and soap. It is where a non-slip mat comes in to save the day! Non-slip mats ought to be placed at the entrance of bathrooms, in front of toilets and right next to showers and bath tubs.
If you are remodeling your bathroom to make it more senior-friendly, consider installing slip-resistant tiles. You can have these installed in the shower area or the entire bathroom. With such an anti-slip coating, you are guaranteed of safety. Alternatively, consider non-slip adhesives. These are usually added on basin edges to prevent their hands from slipping just in case they hold them for support.
You should use contrast colors as a way of demarcating different sections of the bathroom.
Lighting and Color
Many homeowners believe that overhead lighting is the best illumination for a bathroom. The truth is that such lighting is highly problematic for the elderly population. The reason for this is that it casts shadows; hence, it does not illuminate on certain spaces. If you are living with a senior, you should not think of installing overhead lighting fixtures in your bathroom. The better option is to add multiple lights so that all areas of the bathroom receive uniform light.
In addition, you should use contrast colors as a way of demarcating different sections of the bathroom. Instead of high-gloss vanishes, opt for matte ones since the former can cause a confusing glare for seniors.
A few other tips to boost bathroom safety for the elderly include:
- Installing an emergency phone – this should be waterproof and easily accessible.
- Marking hot and cold water handles clearly – many seniors have reduced visual perception; hence the need to label products and water handles vividly.
- Ensure that the bathroom has ample space to walk around.
- Raising the toilet seat – this entails elevating the height of the sitting surface. Raised toilets ensure that the knees remain straight and stable; hence, reducing the risk of falling.
- Installing grab bars – these should be added to the shower area and toilet. They provide seniors with the much-needed leverage; thus, prevent falls.
Whether it’s because of increased age or a particular ailment brought about by aging, your bathing experience can become difficult at one point in life. Using the toilet, getting into a bath tub or simply brushing your teeth, are activities that can become frightening for seniors. Thankfully, with toilet rails, non-slip mats, and walk-in bath tubs, the bathroom can still be a safe haven for the elderly. These accessories enable them to support themselves when bathing and reach for toiletries with a lot of ease.
Given their reduced capacity to see, installing multiple lights is a nice way to ensure that the bathroom is well lit. Also, a senior person may not have the strength to stand for a long time so ensure that there’s a shower bench, where they can sit and rest. Making effort to improve bathroom safety is necessary, especially for seniors who prefer living independently. Besides, the majority of these improvements are easy and affordable but can make all the difference.
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