bath and shower safety handsAs seniors get older, the consequences of an accidental fall become more dire. Every year, 1 in 4 elderly adults will experience a fall, and their injuries account for the majority of fractures and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) amongst older people. 

Sadly, the fear of falling can be very limiting for some seniors. In fact, it’s one of the most often cited reasons for less-frequent bathing in the elderly. 

Their worry isn’t misplaced: more than a third of all accidents occur in the bath or shower. Slippery surfaces and physical challenges make safety a particular concern in the bathroom. Fortunately, a few simple modifications can make this area much more accessible for seniors who want to live at home with independence and dignity. 

Keep bathrooms clean and organized.

Some simple spring cleaning can drastically improve the safety of seniors’ bathrooms. Clutter, electrical chords, and throw rugs are tripping hazards. Eliminate unnecessary obstacles, so your loved one has a clear path to the toilet and shower or tub. 

Take a moment to organize cabinets and shelves so that frequently used items are front and center. Accidents often happen when seniors try to reach for something on a too-high or too-low shelf – this is particularly true for soap and shampoo in the bathtub or shower. Consider mounting a shower caddy to store these products so that your senior doesn’t have to turn or reach for them while bathing. 

Install bathroom safety features.

elderly bath safetyWalk-in showers and tubs are an excellent option for seniors who want more independence at bathtime, but you don’t have to remodel the entire bathroom in order to make it safer and more accessible. 

Small, easy-to-install features can prevent falls by improving seniors’ traction in and out of the shower. This makes it easier to maintain their balance. Consider adding: 

  • Wall-mounted grab bars
  • Non-slip, low-profile bath mats inside and outside of the shower
  • A shower chair
  • A handheld showerhead
  • Raised toilet seat or elevated toilet
  • Adequate bathroom lighting

Keep water inside the bath or shower.

Bathroom flooring is notoriously slippery when wet. Keeping the floor as dry as possible at bathtime will go a long way toward preventing falls.

Routinely inspect walk-in tub doors for leaks, and invest in a weighted shower curtain for walk-in showers. A heavier curtain will prevent water from pooling on the floor as your senior bathes. 

Get help with personal care.

Personal care services can be a godsend for seniors who feel unsteady in the bath but want to continue living at home. 

Many older people actually prefer to accept help with intimate tasks like bathing from a professional caregiver rather than a friend or family member. 

In-home caregivers can tailor their level of assistance to your senior’s needs, whether they need a hand getting in and out of the shower or simply want the assurance that someone is close by. Help with personal care can make a tremendous difference in your loved one’s confidence and independence as they age.