For people over the age of 65, falls account for 60% of all injuries. Of those, 80% occur in the bathroom! You might not have considered your bathroom an unsafe place, but it’s an important consideration for seniors and elderly people. Let’s explore how to create an elderly-friendly bathroom.
Keep Wheelchairs, Canes, & Walkers In Mind
As we age, mobility can become a challenge. Many seniors use wheelchairs and walkers. Make sure your bathroom door is a minimum of 34 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair or walker. If possible, a 5-foot turning radius around the toilet is very helpful.
Consider A Zero-Threshold Shower or Walk-In Tub
Bathtubs can actually pose a real danger for seniors and the elderly. Getting into and out of a slippery bathtub can become a serious challenge and increase the risk of falls. If you can, install a zero-threshold shower instead. A zero-threshold shower has no “curb” or threshold that you must step over to get into the shower. The shower floor is flush with the rest of the floor. This makes it much easier to get into, and one less thing to trip over. Add a bath chair or built-in seat to complete your elderly-friendly shower.
If you’d prefer to have a bathtub, consider installing a walk-in tub. These bathtubs have a built-in “door” that allows you to get into the bathtub without climbing over anything. You can also get in before starting the water, and drain it before you get out, so it won’t be as slippery and likely to cause a fall.
Install Grab Bars
Grab bars are a fairly easy and inexpensive addition that will make any bathroom more elderly-friendly. If you have a tub, install two bars: one at sitting level, and one at standing level. If you have a shower, place grab bars on 3 walls of the shower. A grab bar or two next to the toilet is also important.
Many senior-friendly toilets are higher off the ground than a standard toilet, which can be more comfortable and easier to access. Look for a “comfort height” toilet if you’re looking to replace your standard one. A bidet is also a great choice for those with limited mobility.
Keep Arthritis In Mind
Arthritis can make it difficult to twist door knobs and faucets. Even seniors who don’t have trouble getting around can still suffer from swelling and pain in their hands and fingers. Use lever-style door knobs and lever faucets to make things easier for those with stiff joints.
If your bathroom floor is tile or another type of floor that gets slippery when wet, make sure to use non-slip mats to keep things from getting too slick. Consider placing these mats next to the entrance to the bathtub and/or shower, at the base of the sink or sink cabinet, and in front of the toilet.
We hope these tips and considerations will help you create an elderly-friendly bathroom. Maintaining dignity and independence is vitally important for older people. If you or your loved one needs additional help bathing or using the bathroom, or you just don’t have the time or money to remodel your bathroom, you might benefit from checking out a senior living community. The bathrooms in senior living apartments have been specially designed for use by seniors, and help is available 24/7. Check out Stellar Living to find a community that meets your needs now.