According to the National Institute on Aging, bathrooms account for 80 percent of all senior citizen's falls. This highlights the need to make your elderly loved ones' shower rooms as safe as possible. Remember, your loved one is bound to become less stable with age, and your slippery shower might make it even worse.
However, there are several things you can do to make your shower room bearable and safe for your loved one. This article will outline how to make a shower safe for seniors by giving you the top shower safety tips and recommend some equipment you can install to improve your shower's safety.
How to Make a Shower Safe for Seniors: Top Safety Tips
Removal of Shower Clutter
One of the simplest and most important things you can do to prevent older people from falling in the shower rooms is to keep it organized. Adding clutter to a small-spaced room makes it difficult for them to get about. As such, ensure there are no trip hazards on the bathroom floor, including accessories like soap dispensers.
Test the Water Temperature
Usually, the human body reacts by flight when shower water is too hot or cold. Similarly, the elderly will respond in the same way if their bath or shower water conditions are intolerable. In the process, they might end up tripping and falling, exposing them to injuries. For this reason, ensure the water in the bath or shower is at the proper temperature before allowing them to access it.
Keep Necessities at a Reachable Distance
Clearing clutter is crucial, but so is making necessities accessible. The elderly don't have to bend or stoop to get shower items or overstretch, which would be strenuous. With the advancement in modern technology and increased investment in this industry, there are plenty of inexpensive and versatile storage options you can use to modify your bathroom. For instance, you can consider using shower caddies or wall dispensers, which occupy less space.
Consider Non-Slip Floors
Designers of floor tiles rarely consider the elderly or people with disabilities. Glossy tiles are the most common yet the most dangerous. They become extremely slippery upon coming in contact with water, the reason why a matte finishing is preferable. However, this is a superficial solution that doesn't necessarily help people with balance issues.
The best solution is to opt for textured, non-slip tiles. They offer more grip, and bath soap and shampoo don't make them slippery. You can supplement these tiles' texture by applying non-slip decals.
Get Rid of Throw Rugs
It's common for people to use rugs to dry their legs after getting out of the shower or bathtub. However, avoid these rugs as they're likely to slide away from beneath the feet when they come into contact with soapy water.
When it comes to lighting in the bathroom, we all want a gentler glow to provide that softer effect. However, most seniors with vision difficulties find it hard to see in low light. It's even worse for them when there's hot water steam. Hence, ensure the lighting is bright enough but not excessively bright, as it may cause dizziness and balance issues.
Shower Safety Equipment: Best Shower Aids for Seniors
Install Transfer Benches
A waterproof chair in the shower or bathtub is a simple option for seniors who find it hard to stand independently. These items come in various sizes, with designs made of plastic and non-rusting metal frames. Additionally, they do not necessarily have to be permanent, as you can opt for those that you'll only bring when required.
Before making a purchase, ensure that the bench is sturdy and stable, and if necessary, place a non-slip mat beneath it.
Grab Bars Installation
Typically, the elderly and people with disabilities support themselves with towel bars when accessing and egressing from showers and bathtubs. However, this is risky, as the design and material of these bars are meant to hold a few pounds.
Hence, relying on their support in a wet bathroom is a recipe for catastrophe. Instead, opt for cost-effective and robust grab bars. If your bathroom is small, remove the towel bars and replace them with the grab bars.
When purchasing a grab bar, do not opt for those that use suction cups. They are likely to get loose over time, exposing the elderly to injury risk. Opt for the ones that are firmly mounted on the wall, as they are safer and more durable.
Moreover, pay attention to where your elderly family members place their hands on the wall for support. Then, install the grab bars at that particular point.
The primary goal of these chairs is to reduce the likelihood of slips and falls while bathing among those with mobility challenges. It is ideal for showers and bathtubs, allowing such persons to enjoy more freedom and independence. Unlike transfer benches, shower chairs/bath chairs are placed entirely in the bathtub. As a result, they're ideal for small-sized bathrooms.
Shower Safety Mats
Usually, people use regular mats for extra warmth after getting out of the shower or bathroom. However, these mats can be hazardous since they subject you or your loved ones to slips and falls.
Rectify your bathroom's condition by removing any mats that aren't non-slip or haven't been securely affixed to the floor. Then, purchase non-slip mats with rubber backing and a suction mechanism to attach themselves to the floor.
Young people may find bathroom faucets easy to use. However, they may be challenging for the elderly and people with arthritis-prone hands.
As a result, ensure you go for ergonomic faucets with an easy-to-turn functionality. The faucets must clearly distinguish between hot and cold water since many seniors have limited eyesight. You can also regulate the water heater thermostat to help avoid unintentional burns.
Split Shower Curtains
Weighted shower curtains are simple yet highly effective and frequently overlooked options for preventing water spillage on the bathroom floor. They may appear similar to regular curtains, only that they have curtain hem weights to keep the curtains in place while preventing water splashes.
Bathrooms can be a nightmare for the elderly, and exposing them to falls at their old age can be traumatizing. They might even refuse to shower again or have reservations about hygiene. As such, it is imperative to optimize your bathroom's safety. This comes in handy to not only make them feel safe but also embrace hygiene. Even better, some of these additional features allow them to be independent, which boosts their confidence.