We recently had a customer share with us how worried she was about her aging mother. Her mother wanted to stay in her own home, but mobility was getting more difficult. The daughter was concerned her mom would slip in the shower and not be able to get back up, so she was wondering what bathroom accessories and solutions may be available to help. She’s not the first customer to share these types of concerns with us — and for good reason. Bathrooms can get incredibly slippery and difficult to navigate, especially if they weren’t designed with accessibility and aging adults in mind. Below we’re going to share a few of the common bathroom safety issues for senior citizens — and some potential solutions that can make the bathroom safer for you or your aging loved ones.
Slippery floors, showers, and bathtubs.
Of course, bathrooms can be especially dangerous when the floors get wet — especially for older adults who might already struggle with balance and mobility issues. According to the National Safety Council, more than 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments each year for fall injuries, many of which are hospitalized due to head injuries or bone fractures. Common solutions that can help prevent a slip and fall injury include:
- Installing grab bars to increase support and help improve balance when navigating the bathroom.
- Installing a walk-in bathtub to avoid stepping over tub walls and getting up and down — which are common times that falls and injuries occur.
- Using a shower chair to provide support and rest for those who find it difficult for long periods in the shower or tub.
- Trying a transfer bench to avoid stepping over the side of the tub.
- Utilizing non-slip mats or rugs throughout the bathroom to provide a more stable surface in and out of the bathtub or shower.
- Roll-in or walk-in showers that don’t require stepping over a tub wall or ledge.
Injuries or pain from bending, reaching and straining.
There’s nothing worse than chronic back, neck, knee, and shoulder pain. Getting up or down on a low toilet seat or even straining to reach towels, medications, and other bathroom accessories stored in high or low cupboards can cause serious pain for seniors or make existing aches and pains worse. Common bathroom solutions that may help reduce repetitive motions and strain/pressure on the body include:
- Using a raised toilet seat to minimize how far the user would have to lower up and down when using the toilet.
- Installing grab bars around the toilet seat to provide extra support and assistance when sitting or standing.
- Raising up the sink to reduce bending during handwashing.
- Use handheld showerheads to reduce the amount of twisting and turning during the shower or bath.
- Utilizing grabbers, toilet tissue aids, and other personal hygiene accessories can help reduce bending and twisting in the bathroom.
- Use shelving or soap dispensers to keep from bending down for soaps during the shower.
Grab bars or towel racks that aren’t secured properly.
While grab bars come in handy, they can also be a danger when they’re not installed properly. An older adult may reach out to grab one, only to have it come loose and cause them to fall. The same goes for towel racks that aren’t necessarily meant to support and hold weight. A few solutions include:
- Having a professional, like the team at Watters Plumbing, install your grab bars to make sure they’re secure.
- Doing regular checks of grab bars and towel tacks to make sure they haven’t come loose.
- Find the right grab bars for the space/location you plan to install them.
Not seeing well in the bathroom.
Poor eyesight is common as people age. Plus, many people spend time in their bathroom without vision correction, like glasses or contacts, while taking a shower or using it during the night. Not being able to see well can increase the risk of falling, bumping into things, and other injuries. Some common bathroom solutions we recommend include:
- Adding or updating lighting to brighten up the space.
- Installing night lights or battery-operated push lights that come on easily during the evening hours.
- Changing the light switch locations to make it more accessible if necessary.
- Clearing pathways of potential tripping hazards that may go unseen, such as clothes and shoes.
Can’t grip the faucet.
Due to arthritis, injuries, lack of muscle, and other challenges, many seniors and older adults struggle to grip things around the bathroom or experience pain while doing so. This can make frequent tasks, such as flushing the toilet or hand washing more difficult. Not only that but gripping can then make an existing injury or issue worse and cause increased pain, which requires more medical visits and pain management. Here are some potential solutions you can try:
- Using automatic, hands-free faucets and toilet flushers that don’t require gripping.
- Use air hand dryers to reduce gripping towels while drying.
Watters Plumbing can help you find the right solution for you!
Every homeowner and senior is different, which means no solution is going to work for everyone. At Watters Plumbing, we take the time to listen to your challenges and needs and help find the best bathroom and accessibility options. That way, you’re able to maintain your independence, stay in your home longer, and have a safer, more comfortable bathroom. Stop by our showroom in Menasha or give us a call to discuss our aging-in-place solutions today.
PS: Keep in mind that these solutions aren’t just for seniors, either. A safer bathroom benefits everyone. There are great solutions for Fox Cities homeowners of all ages with disabilities, recovering from an injury or surgery, or thinking ahead for retirement.
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