Regardless of whether you're young or old, the bathroom is typically one of the most dangerous rooms in the house. The danger does rise as the individual ages because the bathroom in many times is a very small space that is prone to slippery floors and surfaces.
Individuals aged 65 and older are one-third more likely than the rest of the population to suffer a slip and fall injury.
The bathroom can be retrofitted to make it safer and more accommodating to the limited mobility that seniors face. Here are several items to address when looking to make the family home more welcoming to the aging individuals' needs.
- Grab bars and hand rails: Grab bars should be installed in and around the bathtub/shower area. You may also want to install one near the toilet. If the aging relative has a difficult time going from a sitting to a standing position, consider installing a raised-seat for the toilet.
- Non-skid surfaces: Bathtubs and showers should be equipped with a nonslip surface, regardless of the age of the person who uses it. There should also be a rug with non-slip backing to prevent falls when moving around the bathroom and getting in and out of the tub and shower. Loose rugs throughout the house should either be tacked down or retrofitted with non-slip backing.
- Bathtub seating: In addition to grab bars, consider installing a bathtub chair for use by the aging individual. You can either set up a bathtub bench or install a chair for use in the shower. If your aging parent has a difficult time getting in and out of the bathtub itself, you may need to retrofit the tub with a shower stall or a tub with a minimal sized curb for them to step over.
- Light it up: The bathroom, and every other room of the home, should be well it. Upgrade to higher wattage bulbs, install night lights in darkened hallways, put up touch lamp type fixtures in other areas as a handy way to light a dark staircase or hallway. Install night lights that turn on and off when the ambient light waxes and wanes.
- Keep it close: Moving items to easy-to-reach shelves to remove any need for climbing on step stools is one way to help the senior. Switching from glassware for drinking cups, coffee mugs and dinner plates to plastic can remove the potential for cuts if the items fall from their hands to the floor.
Taking these steps to make the home more accommodating to the family member as he or she ages may allow him or her to stay in the home and age in place, a trend that is being embraced by more individuals. Don't forget, that as your loved ones age, you will want to talk to them about the possibility of having a home medical alert device installed. With this equipment, the elderly individual wears a medical alert device such as a bracelet or pendant and if they suffer a fall or other medical emergency, at the push of a button, help is summoned. These devices, available for less than a dollar a day at LifeFone, offer peace of mind to both the elderly and their family.