How to Create a Safe & Accessible Bathroom for Seniors (2020): 7 Tips to Prevent Falls & Injury

By Maurice

Bathrooms are the most common places in the house where slips and accidents happen. They're also one of the rooms that we use the most on a day-to-day basis.

If you have a mobility disability, going to the bathroom may seem like a scary task, but trust me - there's nothing to worry about. You can modify your bathroom to make it safe and enjoyable, and in doing so, you'll maintain control of your independent lifestyle.

In this guide, we'll discuss several mobility aids that can be used to transform your bathroom. By the end of it, you'll have a better understanding of bathroom safety practices that can also be implemented in other areas of your house as well.


7 Tips for Making a Seniors’ Bathroom Safe & Accessible

Shower chairs

Shower chairs are ideal for seniors who have difficulty standing for a long time. They provide balance and stability, and they also give you the chance to rest while you’re taking a shower. The best shower chairs come with rubber tips that prevent the chair from sliding around. This can reduce your risk of injury and create a safe showering experience. There are several types of shower chairs available. They include:

  • Standard shower chair: Standard chairs come with or without a back, and they’re basic four-legged chairs. Typically, they’re equipped with hand grips to make easier to get up and down
  • Transfer Bench: Transfer benches make it easier to get in and out of the tub without hurting yourself.
  • Folding stools:Folding stools don’t fold, they have no backs, and they’re best for people with mild mobility issues.
  • Fold Down Shower Chairs: These chairs are mounted to the shower and act as handlebars to help you in and out. They’re equipped with a back and up to 3 handlebars for maximum support.
  • Rolling Shower Chairs:Rolling shower chairs have wheels and a locking mechanism. They’re also equipped with a commode if needed.

Toilet aids

Safety rails/safety frame


Toilet Safety Rails - Courtesy of Medical Products Direct/Yahoo Images

Toilet safety rails provide superior support to make it easier to get on and off the toilet. These rails can either be installed free-standing around the toilet, or they can be mounted to it. Toilet rails come in a vast number of styles and designs, and they are a very helpful mobility tool add to your renovated senior-safe bathroom.

In addition to toilet rails, you can also install grab bars around the toilet. Setting up guard rails can compensate for having a toilet that’s too low to the ground. Plus, they ensure a safe and secure way to comfortably get on and off the toilet.

Raised toilet seat

Elevated Toilet Seat With Legs - Courtesy of Medical Supply Depot

Raised toilet seats make it easier for seniors who have very little arm and leg strength to sit down on the toilet. A raised toilet seat will give you about 3 to 4 extra inches of height to keep you from squatting and putting too much strain on your legs. They can also prevent you from having a bad fall. Having a raised toilet seat can greatly help people who have a mobility disability and keep them living an independent lifestyle.

Also, by reducing the distance to the seat, raised toilets can assist caregivers in helping you sit on the toilet. If they come with arm guards, that’s even better! Arms guard add an extra layer of safety and stability when getting up and sitting down, and they help you maintain your balance.

Stool

Benefits of Toilet Stools - Courtesy of Homeability

A toilet stool is designed to prop up your feet while you’re having a bowel movement to promote good posture while you’re using the bathroom. The point of this is to replication the position of an actual squat. Using a toilet stool boosts your knees above your hips, and this allows your colon to extend fully and creates a natural-feeling bowel movement.

For people who are short, toilet stools can serve as a stepping stool to help you safely sit on the seat. They come in different heights, so they’re suitable for people and toilets of different sizes.

Wipe assist tools

As we get older, everyday tasks become more challenging - even simple activities like using the bathroom. Wiping tools are revolutionary personal hygiene devices that making wiping yourself easier and time-efficient. They provide independence, comfort, and confidence to people who, otherwise, dread going to the bathroom. There are several types of wiping aids available. They include:

  • Long Handled Toilet Aids: This is a handheld long-handled device with a clip at the end that grasps the toilet paper. It’s specifically designed to make wiping easier.
  • Bidet Toilet: Bidet toilets have a wand that shoots out water at the push of a button to clean your private area after you’re done using the bathroom. This eliminates the need for toilet paper.
  • Bidet Toilet Seat: This device eliminates the need to replace your entire toilet. All you have to do is exchange your toilet seat for this one, and you’ll receive the same features and benefits that bidet toilets offer.
  • Bidet Toilet Seat Attachment: Instead of replacing your toilet and toilet seat, you can add this device to your current toilet seat, and it comes equipped with the same features that a standard bidet has.
  • Handheld Bidet Sprayer: This device sort of works like hose. It connects to either the sink or toilet tank, and you spray the water upward to clean yourself as a bidet would.
  • Portable Hygiene Aids: These are long handheld devices that can be broken apart and taken with you wherever you go.

Commode chairs

A commode chair is a portable toilet that can sit at your bedside if you have difficulty making it to the bathroom. Speaking from personal experience, I believe that commode chairs are a must-have mobility aid if you have a mobility disability. After I had surgery, I was prescribed a commode chair because my bathroom was too small for me to comfortably use it without being in pain. Also, before I got the chair, I needed assistance going to the bathroom. Once I had my commode, life was so much easier.

Commode chairs can help you regain your confidence and independence. Additionally, having a commode chair can lower your risk of falls. For caregivers, commode chairs can make it easier to help your patient use the bathroom. Keep in mind that if you have a commode chair, you will have to clean it after every use. There are several types of commode chairs available. They include:

  • Bariatric commodes: Bariatric commodes are designed to seat people who weigh over 300 pounds. They’re equipped with a wider seat so that you feel comfortable and less confined.
  • Portable commodes: Portable commodes can easily be pushed around by your caregiver and can roll around on several kinds of flooring including carpet. Portable commodes can also be folded for easy storage and travel.
  • Shower commodes: As the name suggests, shower commodes are specifically designed for shower use and are made out of waterproof materials to prevent rapid deterioration.

Transfer benches/stools

Sliding Transfer Bench - Courtesy of Performance Health

As it was previously mentioned, transfer benches make it easy to get in and out of the tub without the risk of hurting yourself. Most transfer benches have a non-slip surface with rubber padding on the feet to keep you from slipping and sliding. Additionally, there should be drainage holes in the surface of the seat to prevent dirt-buildup and help the chair dry. Also, transfer benches typically have an armrest as an added measure of safety.

There are also sliding transfer benches that are designed for seniors with very limited mobility or sensitive skin. These devices make it even easier to get in and out of the tub. The seat slides so that you don’t have to work as hard to get out of the tub, and it eliminates the risk of you tearing skin while you move.

Bath lift aids

Bath lifts are remote-operated seats that you lower you into the bathtub, and once you’re done bathing, they easily lift you out of the tub. They’re perfect for seniors with limited mobility and people who have an injury that prevents them from moving freely. Bath lifts come in a wide assortment of styles and designs, but there are only four types to choose from. They include:

  • Battery-powered: Battery-powered bath lifts are shaped like a chair, and as the name suggests, they’re powered by a battery.
  • Air-inflatable: Air-inflatable bath lift aids are filled using a battery-powered air compressor and use an inflated cushion to help in and out of the tub.
  • Water-powered: Water-powered bath lifts can connect to the shower pipe and use the water pressure to raise and lower the lift.
  • Manual Crank: As the name suggests, manual crank bath lifts use a manual crank to help you get in and out of the tub. However, this option can be quite tiresome and requires patience.

Bath Steps

Non-Slip Bath Step - Courtesy of Maxi Aids

Bath steps are a secure platform that helps you get into the tub. You can use them as a stand-alone mobility aid, or you can use them in combination with other helpful tools. Effectively, bath steps lessen the distance between the floor and your tub, thus minimizing the effort it takes to get inside the bath.

Grab bars

Easy Mount Grab Bars - Courtesy of Health Craft Products

Grab bars are useful if you have an injury, limited mobility, poor balance, or a toilet that’s too low to the ground. When I had my surgery, I would rely on the towel rack to help me out of the shower, and I learned the hard way that towel racks are not meant to support your body weight.

Grab bars are, and they can be mounted anywhere in your bathroom. Also, if you have quick reflexes, grab bars can be used as something sturdy to grab onto if you’re falling. This does require that you have a decent amount of arm and shoulder strength.


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