Falls due to environmental causes are the most preventable of all threats to older adults. And in that regard, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house.
Eighty percent of all falls occur in the bathroom. Slippery floors, hard surfaces, and unforgiving edges are just some of the hazards.
Getting up and down from the toilet and in and out of the shower are the top two activities most associated with falls.
Here’s what you can do:
- Install grab bars. Use grab bars by the toilet and shower that bolt into the wall, at a stud. A tension pole (extending from floor to ceiling) is a reasonable alternative. Avoid counting on towel bars or suction-based grab bars. They are not reliable.
- Purchase a shower chair or bench. Use a shower chair in a walk-in shower to eliminate the need for standing. A shower bench bridges the side of a tub. It allows your loved one to sit on the bench at chair height, with feet outside the tub, and then pivot 90° to put feet in the tub and then scoot over for washing.
- Get a hand–held showerhead. With this device your relative can stay seated on the chair or bench throughout bathing. Make sure it can be easily hung from something in the shower while your relative is soaping up. An on/off button on the handle is also a nice feature.
- Add nonskid rugs and mats. Remedy slippery surfaces in the shower or tub with a nonskid mat or decals. In the bathroom, use only rubber-bottomed rugs. A towel on the floor to sop up water is a slip-and-fall waiting to happen.
- Raise the height of the toilet. In addition to a grab bar, install a taller toilet or add a raised seat. A 1.5″–3″ boost can make getting up a lot easier!