We know that maintaining independence and continuing to live at home is important to seniors. Perhaps the biggest threat to a senior citizen’s ability to remain in the home, however, is a fall that results in injury. If there’s ever a time when an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it’s in taking precautions to help an elderly parent avoid falling or other accidents in the home. This is particularly true in the bathroom.
So, here are some safety tips to make your bathroom less hazardous for the elderly:
- If possible, replace the standard bathtub and shower with a low-threshold, “step-in” tub.
- Make sure the bathtub has a non-slip bottom surface. If not, securely install non-slip waterproof adhesive pads or strips. Make sure the tub is dry during installation of these strips.
- Install handrails just outside and inside the tub/shower enclosure. Strong, properly positioned and permanently attached rails are best, of course.
- Make sure soap dishes and towel bars are made of durable or unbreakable materials and are securely attached.
- If medicines are stored in the bathroom, be sure to regularly check and discard expired medications so these are not mixed up with medicines the senior might currently be taking.
- In place of bar soaps, encourage the senior to use plastic bottles of liquid soap and shampoo. Bar soaps can be hard to hold and can cause falls as the elderly bather tries to retrieve the soap.
- Keep portable heaters, radios and other electrical devices as far from the tub or shower area as possible. Electrocution can occur instantly if a plugged-in electrical device falls into the tub or comes into contact with water.
- Place a sturdy, properly sized and positioned bath/shower seat for seniors in the tub. This can help the elderly person bathe safely while seated.
- Personally assist the senior into the tub, especially if the tub is the traditional “step-over” kind. For modesty, the senior can wear a bathrobe until inside the tub and hand it to you once safely inside.
Safety in the bathroom is of paramount importance for a senior. Ask your health aids specialist for help in determining what your specific needs might be.