My 70-year-old mother slipped and fell getting out of the bathroom last month, and I’d like to modify her bathroom a bit with some safety features that can help protect her. What tips do you recommend for making a bathroom safer and more functional for seniors.
A Concerned Daughter
Dear Concerned Daughter,
Most accidents and injuries happen in the bathroom than any other room in the house, this is a very important room to modify for aging in place. Depending on your mother’s needs, here are some tips for each part of the bathroom that can make it safer and easier to use.
Flooring: To avoid slipping, you can use anti slip floor application like which can be applied on your existing tiles. This can increase the coefficient of friction by 30% to 40%.
Lighting: Good lighting is also very important, so install the highest wattage bulbs allowed for your mom’s bathroom fixtures and get a plug-in nightlight that automatically turns on when the room gets dark.
Bathtub/shower: To make bathing safer, purchase a rubber suction-grip mat, or put down adhesive nonskid tape on the tub/shower floor.
Have a carpenter install grab bars in and around the tub/shower for support.
There are various options available which can suit different needs.
A L shaped grab bar can also provide support in both horizontal and vertical direction.
A 135o Grab Bar provides angular support to get in or out of a bath chair.
If your mom has mobility issues or balance problems, get her a shower or bathtub seat so she can bathe from a seated position.
Toilet: Most toilets are about 14 to 16 inches high which can be an issue for many people with arthritis, back, hip or knee problems. To raise the toilet height, which can make sitting down and getting back up a little easier, you can purchase a raised toilet seat that clamps to the toilet bowl and/or purchase toilet safety rails that sit on each side of the seat for support. A folding toilet grab bar provides the support while
Faucets: If your mom has twist handles on the sink, bathtub or shower faucets, replace them with lever handle faucets. They’re easier to operate, especially for seniors with arthritis or limited hand strength. Also note that it only takes 130-degree water to scald someone, so turn her hot water heater down to 120 degrees.
Entrance: If your mom needs a wider bathroom entrance to accommodate a walker or wheelchair, install some “swing clear” offset hinges on the door which will widen the doorway an additional two inches.
Emergency assistance: As a safety precaution, purchase a waterproof phone for the bathroom or get a medical alert device (SOS emergency call button) that your mom could wear in case she falls and needs to call for help.
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