The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts seven fall deaths per hour for older American adults by 2030 unless more prevention is achieved. Common injuries experienced by people 65 and older who fall include head injury, hip fracture, and broken arm, wrist, or ankle bones.
As we take a quick look at the research on bathroom falls and injuries among the elderly, we discuss the most common washroom danger spots for falling. Most importantly, you’ll learn excellent prevention tips that anyone can do to create a safer bathroom for seniors.
Common Types of Elderly Falls in the Bathroom
When seniors fall in the bathroom, it’s mostly related to bathing, showering, or toileting. Washing often results in slippery floors, tub, and shower areas from splashed water, condensation, soaps, or shampoos. The effort to lift from the toilet seat with frailer muscles can cause a loss of balance. Older adults with low blood pressure, heart disease, or dementia can be especially prone to falling.
Getting Out of the Tub or Shower
One small slip or misstep when getting out of the shower or bathtub can lead to a bad fall. Rather than being able to recover from starting to slip or fall, an older person may experience a loss of balance. Sometimes the cause may not even be that the floor is slippery but that the bathroom is too dimly lit for the senior to gauge his or her footing correctly.
For some older adults, the effort of bathing can be very tiring, making it more strenuous to exit the tub or shower, so they may be distracted from noticing a slippery floor.
Wet Floors, Slippery Surfaces
As The Ohio Department of Aging points out, as people age, the home that was once safe for them becomes much less so, and 80% of all falls occur in the bathroom. Being less able to pick up our feet makes that once harmless flimsy fabric bathmat more of a hazard than a help. Mobility issues or overall unsteadiness can make just a tiny amount of water on the floor an accident waiting to happen.
Fogginess in thinking or dizziness caused by medication can be other reasons seniors are more likely to fall and be unable to stop falling once they start. The Mayo Clinic advises seniors to make a health care appointment to assess their fall risk.
Getting on or off the Toilet
After the causes of slipping on wet floors or surfaces and getting out of the tub or shower, using the toilet is the third cause of elderly bathroom falls. These falls can happen when an older adult sits on the seat or gets up from it. The solutions to prevent falls from or near the toilet are especially simple ones, and we present these first up in the following section.
Bathroom Fall Prevention: Top Tips
Without doing a washroom remodel or while waiting to start one, a few pieces of safety equipment may prevent bathroom falls and injuries among the elderly in any home.
Preventing Toilet Falls
Just three easy-to-find accessories for the toilet area can create a safer space.:
Grab Bar Toilet Paper Holder
- 1Toilet Rails – With a sturdy frame on either side of the toilet to grab onto, rails make toileting much safer for the elderly who may be unsteady on their feet or get fatigued when standing up from a sitting position.
- 2Raised Toilet Seat – Raising the regular toilet seat using secure fasteners sold for that purpose may help seniors struggle less with trying to sit on the seat and get up from it. For those with weak leg muscles, a raised seat might make using the toilet a less tiring experience.
- 3Grab Bar Toilet Paper Holder – A metal safety grab bar installed beside the toilet that also doubles as a toilet paper holder is an excellent addition to even the smallest bathroom. Something as ordinary as reaching for toilet paper on a standard roll type holder may throw a senior off balance, so what better than for the paper to be on a safety bar?
Preventing Shower and Bathtub Falls
Floor to Ceiling Safety Pole
Tub Rail Grip
Non-slip shower & tub mats
Just as three accessories can make the toilet area safer for seniors, the same goes for the tub and shower:
- 1Floor-to-Ceiling Safety Pole – A tall safety pole for the bathroom fits into even the smallest space to provide extra security when exiting the shower or tub. What once was an empty area with nothing safe to grab onto becomes secure support with several different gripping options.
- 2Tub Rail Grip – When stepping over a bathtub edge is necessary, a handle that securely grips onto the tub edge can make doing so much safer. Having a secure non-skid mat to land on after using the grip item is necessary.
- 3Non-Slip Shower and Tub Mats – Along with safety mats outside the tub and shower, having a drainable type of non-slip mat inside the bathing areas is a good idea. The added cushioning can also be more comfortable on the feet.
Other Top Bathroom Fall Prevention Tips
When giving a bathroom for the elderly a safety makeover, it’s essential to think about the small things that can make a big difference. Here are a few ideas:
- Make sure the route to the washroom and the bathroom itself is uncluttered and well-lit. Nightlights can be a helpful addition to hallways leading to the senior’s bathroom.
- Get rid of scatter mats that don’t adhere firmly to the floor. If one must be used, make sure it’s secured with double-sided tape.
- Keep all bathing and other grooming supplies easy to access at an appropriate height, so no stretching or standing on the tips of the toes is encouraged.
Well, that’s the latest on bathroom fall prevention for older adults. We hope this article informed you about the main senior fall statistics and gave you some great ideas to safeguard your bathroom. Please revisit the safety tips and customize your senior washroom accordingly. As we’ve covered here, bathroom falls and injuries among the elderly may be easily prevented with several widely available safety equipment pieces.