Bathrooms are statistically the most likely room in the home where a senior will have an accident or injury, particularly a fall. Many of these falls are attributed to using the bath or shower, others to the toilet. Improving safety in this room will give everyone more peace of mind and help seniors maintain independence.
Start with simple and inexpensive changes that are instant safety improvements.
• Install brighter light bulbs (if the fixtures are rated for higher wattage bulbs) and add an inexpensive night light.
• Floors must be kept clear of tripping hazards and shelves and counters cleared of all but absolutely necessary items to reduce the chance of dropped items which causes people to bend to pick them up and risk falling.
• Frequently used items including first aid products should be easy to retrieve without extra reaching and bending.
• Many cordless phones have an independent handset that could be mounted on an accessible bathroom wall.
Add Grab Bars
There are a large variety of hand hold bars and non slip products that are easy to use and sure to reduce the possibility of injuries. Products such as permanently mounted grab bars and hand holds require secure mounting/installation to walls in the proper location for maximum benefit but this is a relatively simple home improvement project for a do it yourselfer. If the bath or shower enclosure can accommodate it, a simpler choice might be to select two or three high quality suction mounted handles that will adhere to very smooth wall and tub surfaces (pay very close attention to mounting instructions). Try searching using the keywords "suction grab bar" or visit a local home improvement center, hardware store or even large pharmacy for any of these products. Adding a non slip bath mat or adhesive non slip strips in the tub or shower (available in most department stores or large pharmacies) are quick and inexpensive ways to reduce possible slipping without dramatically altering the appearance of the bath.
Getting into, out of and using a bathtub/shower enclosure is much safer for many people if they use a transfer bench and handheld shower. Using a bench greatly reduces the unsteadiness and tripping potential of stepping over the tub edge and encourages a seated position during bathing which reduces the chance of slipping. To use a transfer bench, a person sits on the end of the bench outside the tub, slides themselves over the tub edge and into the bathtub/shower enclosure, all the while remaining seated. Here is a very good example of a transfer bench that is height adjustable and supports up to 300 lbs.
Try an Elevated Toilet Seat
To improve safety when using the toilet, add an easy to install elevated toilet seat (adds as little as 2-3 inches to the height of the toilet seat) that reduces the strain and possible balance issues when sitting or standing.