Let us discuss some important bathroom alterations for the elderly to get a comfortable and safe experience.
As we grow older, there are many medical complications that one may face. They may have visibility issues or issues while walking. This makes bathrooms the most dangerous place in a house because they have unforgiving and slippery surfaces. It will increase the risk of falls for older adults.
But there is scope to make the bathrooms in the house safer for older adults. To know about what changes you can make, read this article, which will outline the kinds of modifications you can make in your bathroom to make them safer and comfortable for the elderly living in your house.
What Are the Common Accidents That Can Happen to the Elderly in a Bathroom?
The cases of elderly fall mostly happen in the bathroom. Most of the falls can be because of muscle weakness. The risk will increase if they already have a history of falls.
The situations where a fall can happen are:
- While getting in for bath and out after the bath from the bathtub or shower;
- While using the toilet when getting up or sitting down ; and
- When attempting to use towel bars, sink tops, or objects for balancing while walking.
- When they step on the slippery bathroom floor.
Some other hazards can happen in the bathroom to the elderly. These can be sliding shower doors, which may open or close unexpectedly, shower chairs that are not slip-resistant.
Why Is It Essential To Make Alterations to the Bathroom for the Elderly in the House?
We come across 1 in every four people aged over 65 getting injuries because of falls every year. But falls in the bathroom are different from other places; falls in the bathroom may lead to injuries to the spinal cord, broken hips, fractures, and head injuries which can be fatal.
Falls can be because of different reasons like:
- Risk of falling by slipping: It can be because of the wet floors in the bathrooms. So, when the adults use the bathroom, they have to be careful of expectantly wet and other areas.
- Risk of falling because of giddiness: Some elderly may feel dizzy or lightheaded when they wake up or get up from bed. Optimal blood pressure and lack of blood circulation can be the reason for this.
- Risk of falling when they Trip: If you have elderly at home, you should keep bath mats with ends that are ruffled and keep the stools and cables away from the way to avoid tripping.
How Can We Make The Toilet Friendly for the Elderly?
Some ways in which we can make toilets-friendly for the elderly.
#1 Toilet Seat with Bidet: Fixing A bidet with a toilet seat will make the toilet cleaning paper-free and will give a hand-free experience when you use the toilet. If you pick an electric bidet toilet, it will help you warm up the toilet when it is cold in the winter. Using a bidet will let the elderly use the toilet by themselves with less help and maintain toilet hygiene.
#2 Toilet Safety Frame which has Arms: If the elderly have musculoskeletal conditions or osteoarthritis, they may face mobility issues. The frame is of aluminum material which is durable and provides support for the elderly. The armrests are high, distributing the weight and helping the elderly lift themselves efficiently.
How Can You Make the Bathroom Friendly for the Elderly?
Making some alterations to the bathroom will make it friendly for the elderly.
Building a bathroom in the common main level area will keep it at a reachable distance for all. If there is no bathroom at the main level, you can install a chair lift or elevator to make it reachable for the elderly.
Ensure That There Is Space To Move Around in the Bathroom
Build or remodel the bathroom by keeping space around to move in the bathroom. This is because as you get older, you may have to use walkers, wheelchairs, or canes for walking.
Grab bars in a bathroom can significantly increase the safety levels for the elderly. They will assist them when standing or sitting.
When they are in the bathtub or the shower, it will help them stand and get out from the shower safely.
Showers and Bathtubs
Applying an anti-slip coating to the bathtub floor, and Installing shower seats, grab bars will make it safer for the elderly. You can modify the tub by creating a safer way to enter into the bathtub. Getting a roll-in shower will make it easy for the wheelchair users as well as others while they want to shower.
Adjustable Shower Heads
This will help in adjusting their position and height to suit the user.
You can combine it with a hand-held shower head creating a functional experience for the elderly.
Shower Seats will relieve the pain of the elderly while they shower for a longer time and keep them safer. You can pick built-in seats, foldable seats, shower chairs, or shower stools.
Step Stool with Handle
Step stools will serve as platforms with a handle to hold for support. The rubber layer on the stool will prevent you from slipping when you step on it. It will also help in stepping out and in the bed.
The floor of the bathroom should be non-slippery. This is important for the safety of the areas that are inside and outside of the bathtub and the shower. Pick anti-skid tiles for the shower stalls and flooring of the bathroom. Put anti-skid coating on the tub bottom to prevent any falls for the elderly.
Plan to remove the throw rugs from the bathroom, resulting in falling and tripping of the elderly. If you feel that rug is essential in the bathroom, then pick one with a low pile and secure the rug using anti-slip tape.
Non-slip Bath Mat
Make your bathroom fall-proof by adding bath mats that are non-slip below the basin and toilet, outside the tub, on the bathroom floor, at all the places where you feel that water spillage can be seen. These mats will help in absorbing crucial impact during falls and will reduce the risk of slipping in the elderly.
Motion Sensor Lights
These sensor lights work the best to reduce the risk of falls in the elderly inside the bathroom. The Elderly may skip turning the lights on sometimes; such dim areas may increase the risk of falls for the elderly. Sensor lights will make it safer for them and don’t require them to turn on the lights every time. These lights will reduce the electricity bill of the user.
Cabinets and Counters
Everyone requires storage space in the bathrooms. If you are looking to remodel the bathroom, you can take this opportunity to increase the storage space. You can construct adjustable countertops. But remember to avoid sharp edges to these, to prevent any injuries to the elderly.
A cabinet for keeping the medicines will make it easy for the elderly if they get hurt suddenly. It should be at a reachable height for the elderly to access them easily.
If there is a mirror nearby which can be tilted up and down easily it will help them better. It will make it easier if someone is using it while sitting on a wheelchair.
For easy accessibility, the sinks should be of lower height suiting for a wheelchair user also. Such sinks can be hung from a wall and will give space for the wheelchairs or knees.
You can pick faucets that can be controlled using a pedal making it easy for the elderly when they use it in a sitting position.
The below video will give you step by step instructions on what to do to make your bathroom more elderly friendly:
Other Changes To Make Your Bathroom Accessible to the Elderly
- The bathroom should have a provision so that it can be unlocked from the outside, and this will help you in shifting the elderly to the hospital in case they trip and get injured in the bathroom.
- Replace the present doorknob with a lever handle, and this will increase the accessibility of the bathroom door, helping you open it outwards.
- Choosing a pocket door will help in increasing the space in the bathroom.
- You can fix a cordless phone in the bathroom. This phone has to be reachable from the shower, bathtub, and toilet area. It will make it easy for the elderly to contact someone when there is an emergency.
One of the primary places where the elderly can get injured is the Bathrooms. You can make modifications to the present bathroom to make it convenient and comfortable for the elderly. It will help in keeping the elderly safe and preventing any falls.
You can decide on what modifications to make after understanding the challenges that your elderly are facing when they use the bathroom at home. This will help in making the changes better and keeping them safe. Do try any of the suggestions that we have mentioned in this article, and let us know through the comment section.