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Bathroom Safety for Seniors

Written by OurParents Staff
 about the author
4 minute readLast updated April 3, 2023

While an accidental fall may not be a reason for concern for many younger people, it can be life altering for older adults. The aging process and chronic conditions can make seniors more susceptible to falls. Declining eyesight, slowed reflexes, foot and joint issues, medication side effects, and balance challenges can all increase the risk of a fall. As part of routine home safety, families should strive to make an aging loved one’s home environment, especially the bathroom, as fall-proof as possible.

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For many seniors, aging in place is the most economical and desirable living arrangement. But without proper preparation, home can also be surprisingly dangerous.
Consider these facts:
  • Six out of every 10 falls happens at home
  • One out of 3 adults over 65 will get injured in fall
  • Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal and fatal injuries in elderly adults
The good news is that many home injuries are preventable. When making home modifications to improve safety and accessibility, the bathroom is a great place to start. With hard, slick surfaces that frequently get wet and slippery, bathrooms can be dangerous. However, a little work goes a long way toward creating a safe, comfortable environment.

Small projects to prevent injury

These projects and purchases can be completed by most homeowners in a weekend and make a big difference in your loved one’s safety.
  • Put non-slip pads or strips on the bathtub or shower floor.
  • Remove bathmats or area rugs that could cause trips and falls.
  • Install grab bars and/or safety rails in the bath or shower and near the toilet. Safety bars should be long and wide enough to grasp easily, covered in a non-slippery grip, and anchored in a wall stud.
  • Get a toilet safety frame or raised seat to add stability while using the toilet. Two options are molded plastic and the adjustable variety. Both will add between three and six inches to the height of the toilet, making transfers much easier.
  • Buy a shower stool, seat, or transfer bench. It should have a rigid seat and back and rubber tips on the feet to prevent slipping.
  • Make sure toiletries and supplies are within easy reach.
  • Set the water heater to 120 degrees or lower to prevent scalding.
  • Add nightlights or lighting with motion sensors to the bathroom to ensure it’s well lit even at night. Think about lighting the path from your loved one’s bedroom to the bathroom, as well. Don’t forget to ensure that any and all light switches are easily accessible.

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

Bigger projects to senior-proof your bathroom

These projects may require professional help, but they can play a big role in making your loved one’s bathroom as safe as possible.
  • Hang the door so that it opens outwards in case of a fall (if necessary). Remove any door locks.
  • Install a hand-held shower nozzle, which can be easier to use while sitting down.
  • Replace glass shower doors with plastic or shower curtains.
  • Create a tub cut out. Lower one side of the tub so that it’s easier for seniors to get in and out.
  • Install a walk-in tub. Updating a bathroom with a complete walk-in tub isn’t cheap, but it is a very effective way to make it easier for seniors to bathe. Expect the cost of the tub and installation to range anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000.
Remaining in the home can provide seniors with a strong sense of comfort and confidence. By following the tips listed above, you can help ensure that your loved one stays safe as well as satisfied.

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If you’re looking to keep your loved one at home longer

Most families who are interested in home modifications like these are trying to keep their loved ones at home for as long as possible. Senior care products and home safety improvements can help, but your parent may still need some extra assistance. From helping with transportation to doctor visits and medication reminders to meal preparation and companionship, in-home care is a great source of extra support for aging loved ones who wish to age in place.


Meet the Author
OurParents Staff

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