7 Bathroom Safety Tips to Prevent Falls and Injuries
When it comes to elder care safety in a loved one's home, the bathroom deserves immediate attention.
More than 230,000 Americans are injured in the bathroom each year, according to the most recent survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data shows that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults — leading to costly fractures, head injuries, and hospitalizations that can result in loss of independence and sometimes death.
Some of the leading causes of slips and falls in the bathroom can occur from:
- Getting in and/or out of the shower/bathtub
- Wet, slippery floors
- Broken tiles
- Poor lighting
- Bending for hard-to-reach areas
- Standing up or sitting down on a toilet
- Tripping over bathmats, towels, or other objects
How You Can Improve Bathroom Safety
Here are seven tips to help you optimize your loved one’s bathroom to reduce the risk of accident or injury:
- Install Grab Bars
Grab bars are an indispensable tool for senior bathroom safety. Grab bars perform two essential functions: First, they give your loved one something to grip when moving in and out of the tub or getting on and off the toilet. Second, in the case of a fall, grab bars will provide a secure place for your loved one to hold before falling. However, it’s important to install grab bars that are securely screwed into wall studs instead of the suction cup versions, which could pop off of the wall when under pressure.
- Install Non-Slip Surfaces
Many falls are caused by slippery surfaces, such as tile or linoleum on the bathroom floor, or fiberglass or ceramic tub/shower surfaces. To prevent slips, consider installing non-slip surfaces on your loved one’s bathroom floor, as well as in the tub or shower.
Non-slip decals or mats should be applied to slippery surfaces — especially those that can become even more slippery when wet. However, it’s important to keep an eye on these decals to make sure they don’t loosen and create a tripping hazard.
- Improve Accessibility
Making sure that commonly used items are within easy reach is essential for areas like bathrooms where the risk of slipping or falling is heightened.
This is especially important in the shower/bathtub. Make sure that soap, shampoo, conditioner, towels, and any other bathing items are within easy reach.
- Remove Obstacles and Clutter
Bathroom safety can be improved by removing items that are easily tripped over. One of the biggest risks for the elderly is tripping over the side of their bathtub. Installing a walk-in shower or walk-in bathtub can prevent this from occurring.
Remove scatter rugs, which are easy to slip on or trip over. Remember to only use bathmats with a non-slip backing, and securely hang them up when not in use. Avoid keeping items such as trash cans, scales, and toilet brushes in high-traffic areas where they could cause a fall.
Making sure that commonly used items are within easy reach is also essential — especially in the shower/bathtub. Make sure that soap, shampoo, conditioner, towels, and any other bathing items are within easy reach and surfaces are free of unnecessary clutter.
- Reduce Risk of Over-Exertion
Overexertion is the No. 2 most common cause of injuries in the bathroom, behind falls, according to the CDC study.
Consider installing a secure bathing seat and a raised seat for your loved one’s toilet, to help your loved one avoid over-exerting him or herself.
- Improve Visibility
For many elderly people, frequent urination — especially at night — is a common complaint. By installing night lights that illuminate the walkway from the bedroom to the bathroom, you can reduce the chance of a fall or injury.
- Prevent Hot Water Burns
Elderly people have thinner, more delicate skin and can take longer to notice hot temperatures.
Because of this, they are often at increased risk of burns caused by hot water. Make sure your loved one's bathroom taps are labeled and keep hot water temperatures to a maximum of 120 F.
Visiting Angels® helps address falls risks through a Safe & Steady Fall Prevention that teaches seniors, families, and care providers how to make falls less likely by creating a safer home environment.
Contact us today! Our home care coordinators are available to discuss your senior’s needs via a free home care consultation.