Designing safe senior spaces, especially in homes,is the key to ensuring they can go about their daily activities without injuring themselves. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, adults aged 65 and older fall; this is a massive number and the unfortunate aspect of such falls is that many of them happen at home. Nearly half of these accidents can be prevented if seniors or their family members take steps to address the safety issues that lead to such accidents.
One area of the home that calls for an improvement is the bathroom. It’s the one room where seniors are susceptible to more accidents than anywhere else in the house. If you are a senior or somebody who’s tasked with taking care of a senior, it’s important that you make the bathroom as safe as possible.
Here are a few things that can help you improve the safety of your bathroom from the ‘senior’ perspective:
1. Make Sure it is Easy to Reach
The first rule to keep in mind is bathrooms that will be used by seniors should be located on the main level of the home (ideally in the bedroom used by seniors). If your home doesn’t have a bathroom that can be easily accessed by seniors, think about remodeling your home to add an additional bathroom.
2. Obstacle Free
The path leading to the bathroom must be free of obstacles. Senior citizens begin to lose control of their mobility and frequently suffer from vision issues which makes them accident prone and may cause them to lose their footing or balance because of objects placed in the way to the bathroom. Something as commonplace as a rug can act as an impediment to mobility. So make sure the route to the bathroom is obstacle free.
3. Easy Movement Inside
Once the senior reaches the bathroom without incident, then what? Does he/she have enough space to maneuver the cane, wheelchair, or any other assistive device they are using? Does the person have enough space to perform his/her tasks comfortably? These are the two important questions you must ask yourself. If you think the existing bathroom lacks enough space, it’s time to widen it and if this can’t be done, build a new one. While it might be difficult to invest in bathroom remodeling or actually creating a new one, it’s important to give it serious thought.
Imagine a scenario where you think investing in a bathroom to increase its area is a bad idea and then a senior family member has an accident due to lack of space. The amount of money you will spend in medical expenses and the pain and discomfort the person will have to go through are more important.
4. Senior Citizen Friendly Baths
A normal bathtub or shower doesn’t cater to the needs of seniors, which can lead to a higher percentage of slip and fall accidents.. What you need to go for are bathroom fittings that are tailor-made with senior safety in mind. One such fitting is the walk-in bathtub. As the name suggests, these bathtubs are meant for people who can walk but would have difficulty stepping into a traditional bathtub.. They sport inward swinging doors and have ADA compliant seats. This means seniors will face no difficulty while taking a bath.
This is just one solution that should be given serious thought; there are plenty of other options out there.
You also need to make the commode senior friendly. If you think the seat doesn’t have the right height, replace it with one of appropriate height (keeping in mind the mobility of the senior and the height that is most comfortable for him/her); another option is to install a seat extender.
What you also must do is install grab bars on the wall at the back and/or front of the toilet area; they need to be placed in a way and at a length where they are easy to grab. You could even place them near the bath area.
These are just some of the ways you can make bathrooms safer for elderly people. Remember, when it comes to bathroom safety, prevention is better than cure. More often than not, hindsight is too late to understand the importance of ensuring safety of a senior family member. What you need is the foresight to stay a step ahead to guess their safety needs and make the necessary changes to your home.
Bentley baths has years of experience evaluating and recommending safety changes and features for your homes. If you’d like to arrange a no obligation home evaluation, please give us a call at 800-688-0055 of fill out our contact form to find your local expert.