Bathrooms are dangerous places! Falls account for more than 6,000 deaths a year. The CDC estimates that more than a quarter of a million Americans 15 and older are injured every year. Two thirds of those injuries are caused by slips and falls in tubs or showers. As Americans age, bathroom safety is becoming more and more important.
Bathroom injuries are expensive, painful and occasionally fatal. There are ways to make your bathroom safer for seniors (and by extension, everyone else) that are attractive and affordable.
What are Some Ways to Improve Bathroom Safety?
There are some fairly simple and cost-effective ways to improve bathroom safety. Some of these may take professional installation for best effect, but others are quick and easy to accomplish.
- Install grab bars in the shower, just outside the shower and near the toilet. These should probably be professionally installed since they may be taking a lot of weight or torqueing as someone grabs them in a fall.
- Make surfaces non-slippery by installing non-slip decals in the tub or shower. Add them to bathroom tile floors or other slick surfaces. Remove rugs.
- Reorganize the bathroom so essential items are easily accessed and don’t require bending or climbing
- Remove obstacles like the magazine rack, rugs, and other items.
- Add a bathing seat and raised toilet seat
- Install nightlights in the bathroom and adjoining hallway
- Label taps and reduce water heat to 120F. You can also install safety faucets that prevent hot water from being fully accessed.
- Consider a walk-in tub or shower
Walk-in tubs have a long history, dating back to Roman times. The modern versions are specifically designed for seniors and can be excellent additions to any bathroom. Modern walk-in tubs include low-step entries onto non-skid flooring, safety bars, and ADA compliant seats.
They also offer the luxury and health benefits of hydrotherapy. Jets of heated water or air create a jacuzzi without the daily maintenance and expense. The benefits of buoyancy, heat and massage are well documented and can ease away pains of growing older. You may be able to use VA benefits or possibly Medicare to install a walk-in bathtub.
One excellent way to make a bathroom safer is to install a low threshold or roll-in shower. Low threshold showers decrease the entry height to the shower. Roll-in showers accommodate wheelchairs or transfer chairs.
Both styles can be as fancy as you want, from granite walls to pulsating showerheads. And with new changes to federal assistance programs, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid or VA benefits may be used to pay for installation.
Making your bathroom safer for all users can be very cost effective. Application of non-slip decals, decluttering, nightlights, and reorganization can be accomplished very cheaply. Adding safety equipment from grab bars to walk-in tubs or showers is more expensive but may be worth the cost and effort.
Make your bathroom safe by starting your research today.