Sure, the kitchen comes with knives, blenders and splatters of hot oil… but you might be surprised to know that the bathroom is where most accidents happen due to slips & falls. It’s where smooth, slick surfaces and water meet—which can be a very bad combination for anyone who struggles with balance or mobility. But don’t worry! Here are a few changes you can make to improve bathroom safety for the elderly—without spending your retirement savings on a full bathroom renovation.
The Most Common Causes Of Slips, Falls & Accidents In The Bathroom
By knowing the most common causes of accidents in the bathroom you’ll have a better understanding of what accessories can help you overcome these potential hazards:
- Getting over the lip of the tub
- Low toilet seats
- Bathroom rugs
8 Easy-To-Install Accessories That Boost Bathroom Safety For The Elderly
1. Shower Caddy Or Dispenser
A shower caddy or dispenser keeps your shampoos and shower items off the edge of the tub where it can get in the way and potentially cause a slip or fall. Shower caddies or wall-mounted dispensers also keep your important items easily accessible so you’re not stretching or straining to reach them which can also put you off balance.
2. Grab Bars
Chances are you’re already trying to prop yourself up against the wall or you’re holding onto the towel bar for balance. But the wall doesn’t provide reliable support and the towel bar is only designed to hold the weight of towels, not the weight of you. Grab bars are the easiest & most reliable way to add balance support to the bathroom.
The most helpful spots for a grab bar are:
- Inside your shower or bathtub
- Near the entrance to your shower or tub
- Beside your toilet
When choosing a grab bar, we recommend a wall-mounted bar like the Moen brand bar below. Suction cup grab bars can slide down the wall and are not as secure as wall-mounted bars.
3. Toilet Riser (An Elevated Toilet Seat)
If you struggle with getting up & down from the toilet, not only will this make it easier for you but it will also reduce the risk of a fall while making that transition. The best part is that you don’t need to install a whole new toilet. You can get an elevated toilet accessory that you simply put between the bowl and your current toilet seat to shorten the distance between standing and sitting. You can even get models with arms for added support during your sit-to-stand movement.
4. Non-Slip Bath Mats (Instead Of Throw Rugs)
Bathroom rugs might be comfy to step onto as you get out of the shower, but they come with a much higher risk of a fall. These rugs can move & slide around which is the last thing you want when you’re trying to stay upright. It’s even possible to catch your feet on the edges & trip on them. When choosing a mat, you want a thin, non-slip mat instead like this:
5. Non-Slip Strips For In Your Shower Or Tub
These strips stick directly to the floor to provide grip. We recommend these over bath mats for inside your shower or tub, because, similar to suction cup grab bars, bath mats often use suction cups to stay in place which aren’t as reliable and can move, increasing the risk of a slip.
6. Bath Chair Or Shower Bench
If you struggle with balance, the shower can be one of the most dangerous places because it’s where water meets a smooth, already slippery surface. To lower the risk of a slip or fall, it’s easiest to simply just sit down for your shower. You can even get ones that are both a chair & a transfer bench like this one from Drive Medical:
7. Weighted Shower Curtain
The added weight in the hem keeps the curtain in place better which helps keep the water from splashing onto the floor. The less water on the floor, the less slippery it is and, spoiler alert: the less likely you are to slip.
8. Handheld Shower Head
This type of shower head makes it easy to wash all parts of your body whether you’re sitting in a shower chair or standing. Rather than moving your body around, you move the shower head—reducing the amount of movements you need to make on a slippery surface.
Bonus Modification: Walk-In Showers
All the previous items are cost-effective, easy-to-install modifications that anyone can make to their current bathroom. However, if you have the option for a bathroom renovation, you should consider installing a walk-in shower for easy access. This way you don’t have to try and navigate lifting yourself over the edge of a tub while maintaining your balance. You just walk straight in!
Extra Bathroom Safety Tips For Seniors
Some other things to keep in mind that can help keep you safer in the bathroom are to:
- Make sure the shower chair you choose is slip-resistant (has suction cups) so it doesn’t move around on you.
- Make sure your grab bars are properly attached. If they’re not secure, they won’t hold your weight which could cause a fall.
- Reduce clutter in your bathroom. The fewer items lying around the less of a chance you’ll trip over them or knock them to the ground and have to reach or bend to pick them up when things are wet.
- Keep your necessities accessible. If you have to reach or move in tricky situations it increases the risk of putting yourself off balance.
With just a few simple accessories that improve bathroom safety for the elderly, you can use the “most dangerous” room in the house with confidence!
If you want ways to improve your balance outside of the bathroom, be sure to check out the “Better Balance With Chair-Assisted Leg Strengthening” program.
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I am debating getting a walk in tub in our new townhouse which they hope to start building it in Sept I love baths but also shower. They have one with a shower pkg. I am 67 and my husband is 70. I have trouble getting in and out of a regular tub due to a back fusion from my sacrum to L2, a two level neck fusion, and two total knees. I have DJD, DDD among other issues like HTN. Should I just have extra tub bars installed or try to get the walk in tub.. There is another bathroom we’re we are planning to put a walk in shower in the other one. Input please.