The bathroom is one of the most hazardous rooms in the home due to its slippery floors and hard surfaces. In fact, bathroom safety related injuries account for almost 200,000 emergency department visits every year in the United States. Elderly people are especially at risk because of reduced mobility and failing eyesight. Whether you’re a senior who wants to retain your independence, or a caregiver looking after someone with mobility problems, you should strive to make the bathroom a safer place to be. From secure floor coverings to dementia-friendly color schemes, here are seventeen bathroom safety tips to benefit both seniors and caregivers alike:
1. Eliminate Hazards
Often, bathroom falls are due to unnecessary hazards such as loose rugs, clutter, and wet floors. To stay safe, get rid of rugs and other superfluous items such as tables and decorative pieces.
It’s also a good idea to replace towel racks and soap dishes—which are not designed to support a person’s body weight—with sturdier bars and rails. Additionally, remove locks from the bathroom door so that helpers can easily access the room in case of emergency.
2. Keep Essentials in Reach
Moving around too much can be tiring and may increase your risk of tripping or falling. Keep movement to a minimum in the bathroom by placing all your essential items within easy reach.
You should also consider the placement of towels, washcloths, and toilet paper, and keep them within easy grabbing distance at all times.
Keep all your shower must-haves in this handy caddy. ( See Product on Amazon )
Fit your shower with a shower caddy that holds all bathing necessities. This reduces the need to stretch or bend to get the shampoo, and mount a soap dispenser by the tub, sink, and shower. It also securely holds products that may otherwise fall creating tripping hazards.
3. Add Nonslip Floor and Bath Coverings
One of the best ways to prevent injury in the shower is to make sure you have enough traction to keep a firm footing. Luckily, there are two ideal products to fit this need.
Nonslip Shower or Bath Mat
Nonslip shower mats can transform any slippery surface into a safe place to walk. ( See Product on Amazon )
Reduce slippery surfaces by investing in nonslip shower mats, a simple and inexpensive act that could go a long way toward making your bathroom safer. Place nonslip mats inside and outside of the tub and shower and secure any loose corners.
Check out our guide to choosing the best nonslip bath mat.
4. Support Yourself with Handles and Bars
For added support and stability when using the toilet, shower, or tub, install grab bars. There are a range of handles and bars available for the bathroom and, unlike regular towel rails, all are designed to support a person’s body weight.
Suction Grab Bar
Install a sturdy grab bar anywhere and everywhere with this portable product. ( See Product on Amazon )
When fitting grab bars, consider the areas of the bathroom where you require the most support. People prone to fainting or dizziness when washing may need suction grab bars for the shower, while those who struggle to get on and off the toilet seat can benefit from grab bars for the toilet. Due to general muscle weakness and mobility issues, many older adults require a range of supportive handles and bars throughout the bathroom.
5. Use Bathing Aids
Twisting and turning in the shower contributes to falls, while bending and stretching increases the risk of straining a muscle or exacerbating an old injury. Shower with ease by using a variety of bathing aids designed to combat these very issues.
Compare the Best Dry Brushes Made Easy to Use Here
Back scrubbers let you clean all those hard to reach place with ease. ( See Product on Amazon )
To clean those hard-to-reach areas like the back and lower legs, consider a back scrubber for the shower. Designed to make bathing easy, a brush reducing the need for you to dangerously bend and twist to get hard to reach areas. Despite their name, they can be used to clean the entire body with minimal effort.
Try a loofah brush for full exfoliation in seconds. ( See Product at Amazon )
A loofah brush is another great option, which can let you get all those hard to reach places, while still offering the maximum amount of clean. The long handle prevents overreaching and reducing the risk of injury.
Get feet sparkling clean without even bending over, with a foot scrubber. ( See Product on Amazon )
A foot scrubber eliminates the need to bend down, move too much, or balance on one foot—simply place the scrubber on the shower floor and use it to clean and massage your feet.
Long-hose Shower Head
Long-hose shower heads will ensure you get completely clean, without bending or stretching. ( See Product on Amazon )
Install a long hose shower head so you can control maneuver the water where you want it, especially if you like to shower while sitting down. The detachable handheld feature makes it easy to bathe hard to reach areas without overstretching. If you're a caregiver, this also makes it easier when assisting your loved one or patient with bathing.
Click Here to See Top Detachable Shower Head Designs
Using a cast cover post surgery or injury will protect your cast, boot or bandage from damage while you bathe ( See Product on Amazon )
Finally, those who are recovering from injury should protect their casts and bandages using a special cast cover— keep clean and bathe easily without destroying the condition of your cast, just slip on the cover and you’re good to go.
6. Consider Shower Seats for Sitting While Bathing
Older adults with mobility issues or those recovering from surgery should take the weight off their feet while they bathe. Installing a bath chair or shower stool is the ideal way to do this. These seats increase user independence and peace of mind while preventing injuries caused by slipping or fainting.
Give tired legs a break during shower time with the perfect shower chair. ( See Product on Amazon )
Caregivers will also notice the benefits of using a shower chair as it reduces strain on the back and neck when helping people into and out of the tub. They also allow for someone with limited mobility or poor balance and chance to shower independently. Use our guide here to find your perfect shower chair.
Compare Top Selling Shower Chairs with Arms Here
Take a seat on this lightweight and portable shower stool. ( See Product on Amazon )
Shower stools are typically smaller in size and are convenient for storing away when not in use. The simple stool is designed to provide a sturdy non slip surface for bathing.
7. Fit a Transfer Bench or Bath Lift
A transfer bench straddles the side of the tub. Users sit on the portion that’s outside the tub before gradually sliding themselves across to the inside of the bathtub.
Transfer benches make getting into and out of the shower a breeze. ( See Product on Amazon )
These benches are ideal for people with poor balance, limited mobility, and conditions such as arthritis. They are also great for promoting independence and simply make bathing safe and easy. Learn more about the different types and styles of transfer benches here.
For those with mobility issues, this shower lift can make getting into and out of the tub a breeze. ( See Product on Amazon )
A bath lift is typically used by those with more severe immobility issues. These power-operated devices lift and lower people into and out of the tub of water. They can be operated remotely and require little to no effort on the part of the user.
8. Make Use of Toileting Aids
In addition to grab bars, you can avail of several aids to keep you comfortable and supported while on the toilet.
Toilet Safety Frame
Make aching knees a thing of the past with a raised toilet seat. ( See Product on Amazon )
Safety frames fit around most toilet sizes and can be a perfect way to maintain your balance, while also saving your joints unnecessary strain.
Raised Toilet Seat
A raised toilet seat can save your joints regular aches and pains. ( See Product on Amazon )
Raised toilet seats are designed to make it easier to sit down and get back up again, especially for people with arthritis, limited mobility, or those recovering from surgery. Instantly add support and height to your toilet seat. They're quick and easy to install and most come with supportive handles that help with balance and maneuvering. Click Here to View Raised Toilet Seat by Vive (sold on Amazon).
Toilet Seat Riser
A toilet seat riser will give you a firm grip when getting on and off the toilet. ( See Product on Amazon )
These seats may be used as a stand-alone item or placed under the existing seat. Some—like this toilet seat riser (found on Amazon) — include attached handles for extra stability, while others offer padding for greater luxury. They often include attached handles and padding for greater luxury and stability.
Discover how to choose and use a raised toilet seat here.
Other devices that come in useful include a bottom buddy—a long-handled grip that allows you to grab and use toilet paper without undue reaching and stretching, and a splash guard to stop urine spilling on to the floor or toilet seat.
9. Choose a Commode
Sometimes, it can be challenging to make it to the bathroom on time, especially at night. A portable toilet, or commode, is a convenient alternative to using the conventional toilet every time. A beside commode is also a good way to limit trips into the bathroom.
Portable commodes can be brought anywhere they're needed, making them the most versatile way to use the toilet. ( See Product on Amazon )
Commodes are comfortable, affordable, and easy to use and provide independence and dignity to older adults with mobility issues and weak pelvic muscles. Find out more about portable toilets here.
10. Use Bath Steps for Assistance
Bathroom step stools provide extra height and stability when navigating the bathroom. Use them to climb in and out of the tub or to reach the top shelf of the bathroom cabinet.
Bath steps are perfect for a little extra boost when entering or exiting the tub. ( See Product on Amazon )
Every household should have safety bath step but they are particularly beneficial for older adults, people with mobility issues, and those recovering from surgery. A non slip step makes it easier to get in and out of tub or shower safely and in some cases independently.
Bath Step Stool
Getting into and out of the tub can be a struggle, so make it easy on yourself with a sturdy bath step stool. ( See Product on Amazon )
While we recommend bath steps with handles as they provide the most stability and reassurance, giving the user more support, you may find it more convenient or prefer those without handles for easy storage.
11. Set the Water Temperature
A warm shower is great for aching muscles and joints, but water that is too hot can be harmful. Hot water can cause dry and itchy skin, while also damaging the hair and causing hair color to fade. It can result in more serious issues too, such as inflammation, a sudden drop in blood pressure, lightheadedness, and fainting.
Ideally, shower temperatures should be no more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit. If your skin turns red or you begin to feel dizzy while washing, dial the temperature gauge down a few notches.
12. Install Proper Lighting
Using the bathroom can be difficult at the best of times, but especially so when it’s dark. Keeping the bathroom, and the route to it, well-lit is an essential step in bathroom safety.
Always step confidently with an automatic nightlight that senses your presence. ( See Product on Amazon )
Install automatic nightlights that flicker on with motion. This helps to light up and guide your way to and from the bathroom, safely, in the dark. These should be installed both inside and outside the bathroom. You may also want to consider using an illuminated light switch or toilet light.
13. Alert Others
In the unfortunate event of an accident or emergency, it’s crucial that you can alert others. Luckily, specialized telephones have been developed for use in the bathroom, letting yous stay in touch with caregivers at all times.
Bathroom telephones are the ideal way to stay in touch with caregivers, every minute of the day. ( See Product on Amazon )
A bathroom telephone allows you to contact a friend, family member, or the emergency services. As an added precaution, consider wearing a waterproof medical alert system. These devices may prove to be life saving.
14. Stay Up to Electrical Code
All wet or damp locations, including the bathroom, must be fitted with a GFCI outlet in order to meet the National Electrical Code. A GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) shuts off the electric power when necessary to protect people from electric shock. Ensure your home is fitted with GFCIs and test them monthly to ensure they are in working order.
15. Clean your Bathroom Daily
Built-up soap scum, pools of water, or mold and mildew all contribute to the risk of slipping on a hard surface. To combat this, give your bathroom a quick clean each day by wiping down wet surfaces and mopping up spills. After showering, open a window or turn on a fan to increase ventilation, remove condensation, and reduce mold and mildew growth.
Once or twice a week, give your bathroom a more thorough clean to remove soap scum and treat any areas of mildew. There are plenty of cleaning products on the market for this purpose, but natural substances can work just as well. To cut through soap scum or mold, use:
- A solution of one part vinegar and one part water
- A paste of baking soda and water (combined with some elbow grease)
- A blend of fifteen drops of tea tree oil in a half cup of water
Don’t forget to regularly wash your nonslip bath mats according to the manufacturer instructions.
16. Design with Safety in Mind
When designing from scratch or remodeling, keep bathroom safety at the forefront of your plans. Options include:
- Ensuring adequate space for wheelchairs, walkers, and canes
- Fitting a walk-in or roll-in shower
- Choosing bathtubs with cut-out areas for easy access (also known as walk-in bathtubs)
- Using a weighted curtain instead of shower doors, which often unexpectedly give way
- Designing the bathroom door to swing outward, so others can easily access the room if someone falls against the door while inside
Surprisingly, your choice of color can also affect the safety of your bathroom. Although brilliant whites and soothing neutrals may be pleasant to look at, they’re not the safest for people with dementia or visual impairments. Instead, choose bright blues or reds for visual contrast.
A walk-in bathtub is the ultimate in convenience, for those who struggle with mobility. ( See Product on Amazon )
17. Ask for Help
Even if you use every safety aid on the market, you may still be uneasy when using the bathroom. If this is the case, it may be best to ask a caregiver to stay nearby. That way, help is at hand immediately in the event of an accident or emergency.
Caregivers who are concerned about looking after an older relative in the home should check out these top tips from the experts.
Stay on Top of Bathroom Safety
Before you discover how to improve the safety of your bathroom, you should learn why it’s so dangerous in the first place. Four out of every five home falls occur in this room, mainly due to:
- Wet surfaces
- Slippery chairs, floor tiles, and shower floor surfaces
- Rugs and other tripping hazards
- Inadequate lighting
- Lack of support
- Using inappropriate objects for support, such as towel racks and sink tops
- Poorly designed bathtubs
- Low toilet heights
- Moving shower doors
Luckily, we’re here to help you address all these problems, and more!
Using the Bathroom with Confidence
Although bathrooms are statistically the most dangerous room in the home, there’s no reason that yours should be! Take steps to improve the safety of your bathroom with bathing and toilet aids, bars and handles, nonslip floor coverings, and seats and benches. You should also ensure that help is never too far away by installing a phone or other alert system and asking others for help if you need it. As your home becomes safer, your confidence will grow, and you’ll suddenly find your bathroom is a more enjoyable place to be.