According to AARP, 1 in 4 Americans over 65 have a fall, a number that is quite high and frequent. For the elderly, falling in the bathroom happens quite frequently. It can lead to dangerous accidents that can take seniors multiple weeks to heal from.
If your loved one is insistent on being independent or is embarrassed about asking for help, they may still need help in difficult places like the bathroom. When it comes to toilet assistance, communication is extremely important to avoid injury along with a few other tips that can give them safety and independence.
Common Toilet Safety Issues with the Elderly
There are instances where we put our elderly family members in unsafe situations without the proper knowledge. At times, you do not know the correct or safe situation without the proper research.
Listed are a few issues that cause hazardous situations for elderly people.
6 Top ways to Prevent Elderly Falls from Toilet
Preventing your loved one from falling from the toilet comes with having the proper aids, tools, and communication.
American In-Home Care states that clear communication is important to prevent falls.
Clear communication with an elderly person means you are speaking to them in short, simple sentences, telling them what you are doing and what they need to do next. Another important part of communication is to listen to their boundaries and respect their space.
2. Let them be independent
When you are helping an elderly person while they are getting up from the toilet, you must let them be as independent as possible to prevent falls or injuries. This means not having them grab on to you and not grabbing on to them. This will prevent injuries to your loved one and yourself.
Other than communicating clearly with the elderly and understanding how you should allow them to move independently, you should also continue to check the following:
3. Create a clear walking path in the bathroom
It is important to make sure there is a clear walking path in the bathroom. This means no obstructions, slippery rugs, or anything in the way of getting from their space to the bathroom.
4. Make sure there is something to hold near the toilet
Adding toilet bars or grab bars around the toilet will assist them as they are sitting down and as they are standing up.
5. Raise the toilet seat
Installing a raised toilet seat with handles will also give the elderly proper support and less of a height difference as they stand up and sit down. Raising the toilet seat allows for a great amount of safety and makes sitting up and down not as difficult.
6. Add a bidet or a handless washing tool.
Installing a simple-to-use handless washing tool will prevent injury as there is less movement needed on the toilet. According to Daily Caring, this is a simple tool that will help with bathroom safety.
Top Toilet Aids for the Elderly
Multiple popular tools aid the elderly every day in the bathroom. Tools made specifically for seniors help with their safety, prevent falling, and make bathroom use very simple. Tools allow them to be independent and use the bathroom on their own.
Listed are seven of the top aids for the elderly for bathroom safety.
1. Toilet lifts
Toilet lifts simply raise the height of the toilet. This allows for less space between a person and the toilet. Sitting down and standing up are quick and make for less strain on the back and legs.
2. Raised toilet seats
Raised toilet seats are quite similar to a toilet lift. However, a raised toilet seat can lift in an angled way, reaching a person and following them as they sit. It guides you as you sit down.
A raised toilet seat is very safe to use and creates a simple process of using the toilet. They also usually come with arms on the side so someone can hang on to them as they sit down and stand up for extra support.
3. Toilet grab bars
Toilet grab bars are installed beside the toilet. They can help you sit down and get up so there is something to grab on to. When a senior is standing up or sitting down on the toilet, they can have support from something sturdy.
Instead of grabbing on to you, or you grabbing on to them, they can grab on to the grab bar. This prevents injuries to you or them as falling is more preventable.
4. Toilet safety rails
Unlike toilet grab bars, toilet safety rails are walker-type tools that are installed around the toilet. You do not have to drill them into your wall, instead, you can easily remove them or move them around.
Toilet safety rails are great for their mobility, and add stability to someone who needs help standing up or sitting down on the toilet.
5. Toilet stools
Toilet stools give feet support near the toilet. You simply step on the stool, so sitting is easier. It also makes for a simple standing-up process.
The toilet stools may not be as stable as a grab bar but they add support for an elderly person.
6. Wipe assist tools
When bending and reaching to wipe becomes difficult, wipe assist tools are a great way to support bathroom use. They make wiping simple, while also improving hygiene and helping delicate skin.
A wipe assistant tool could be a bidet, a handle that grabs onto toilet paper, or even moist wipes. Bidets work well with the press of a button, but they may take a little while to get used to.
Toilet paper grabbers use less movement while wiping as they aid as a buffer, but can get messy. Moist wipes still require wiping but make the process quick and simple.
The less movement in the bathroom the better for improving elderly safety.
7. Commode chairs
Commode chairs work as portable toilets. They can be at the bedside or in the bathroom. They are normally taller than regular toilets and have handles.
Commode chairs allow for more space as they do not have to be in the bathroom. Instead of being in a tight bathroom, you can be somewhere comfortable with more space. According to AARP, it also gives the elderly independence to use the bathroom on their own and prevents falling or injury.
Toilet Assistance for Elderly FAQ
The Americans with Disabilities Act states that toilets should be 17 to 19 inches tall for seniors. This height includes the seat. It should be tall enough that makes sitting and standing up simple.
To raise a toilet seat for the elderly, you should install a raised toilet seat. Some toilets are already made. However, if this is not something you can afford or do not want to do, there are raised toilet seats that will create the height needed and are simple to install.
To keep an elderly man from splashing urine, you can add a splash guard, disposable toilet mats, and heighten the toilet. The higher the toilet is, the less of a mess you will have.
When your loved one is unable to use the toilet themselves, they are completely dependent on you. There are a few options for you when it comes to helping them.
You can do the following:
To help your elderly parents push them up from the toilet, you should use grab bars or toilet safety rails. This gives them leverage and the ability to stand up.
If they do need to grab on to you, have them scoot forward and grab on to your forearms and lift them slowly.
When it comes to transferring an elderly person from a toilet to a wheelchair, this may feel like a daunting task. However, with the correct precautions, it can be easy for you and your loved one.
According to Daily Caring, have them grab onto your forearms and take small steps towards the toilet. This should not be a fast-paced movement. Do not rush them and take as much time as needed.
Ask them to bend their knees and slowly move them to the seat. Again, this is all about proper communication. Letting them know when it is time to get up and sit down. Giving them an indication as to what is happening.
When it comes to installing them, there are usually spots to drill the handles in on the ends of them. After that, they can be covered.
It is important to drill them where there is a stud in the wall so a great amount of pressure can be applied to them. If the handles are not sturdy, then they may fall out or not give the right support.
When it comes to where you are installing them, the Americans with Disabilities Act states that safety handles should be installed between 33 inches to 36 inches from the ground. You should also install them in a place that is not obstructive, a few inches out from the toilet.
When transferring a weak elderly person from bed to the toilet, you should follow the same routine as transferring them from the wheelchair to the toilet. However, instead, you will have a much longer walk.
Ask them to scoot forward, grab your forearms, and stand up. Walk slowly beside them, taking small steps, and do not rush them. Take as much time as needed.
It is important to place a chair in the hallway or halfway from the bed to the toilet. This will give them time to rest in between if it is needed.
When it is time to sit them down, tell them to bend their knees and hold on to your forearms.
When it comes to bathroom safety for seniors, it is important to add the proper tools and give them the right support. Be sure to communicate effectively and allow them to be as independent as possible.
It is important to make sure there are places to grab and the toilet is the proper height, so the task of using the toilet is not as difficult. As long as you install the right tools, and help them correctly through communication, a senior can use the bathroom effectively without any injury or difficulty.