Over 90% of seniors say that aging in place is their preferred way of living. But to allow seniors to remain in their homes as long as possible, their bathroom may need a senior safety makeover to accommodate their physical challenges.
It is calculated that approximately one in four citizens over the age of 65 falls each year. One-fifth of falls result in injury needing to be treated in the emergency room, with older adults being treated for fall-related injuries every 11 seconds.
Now, these are some pretty scary statistics. Considering the high number of fall-related injuries that happen at home, you’ll want to take all possible precautions to ensure the safety of your loved ones or yourself. For most homes, this will start in the bathroom and kitchen areas.
A bathroom makeover is neither difficult nor overly expensive to make it senior-friendly. If you have the budget, of course, you can do a complete remodel, creating a space that is easily accessible and has all the features you might need. But, you can also use a few well-placed accessories and a top-of-the-line medical alert system to ensure they’re protected from accidents and injury.
The first place you’ll want to look at is your shower/bathtub. In addition to making sure you can easily get in and out of your tub, you’ll also want to look at ways in which you can stay protected while keeping clean. For most people, this will include installing a couple of grab bars, evaluating the layout of the space, and eliminating slipping hazards.
Don’t know where to start? Just follow these simple guidelines:
- Make sure there is a grab bar that will help you get in and out of your bathtub/shower. Experts strongly advise against using towel hangers for this purpose as they aren’t robust enough to hold a person’s body weight.
- Install an additional grab bar you can hold on to when standing up in the tub. This way, even if you lose your balance, you’ll prevent serious injury.
- Install non-slip grips. Most bathtubs and shower tiles get slippery from water and soap, and a slip-resistant surface can greatly decrease the likelihood of a fall. There are even coatings you can apply to the entire shower floor. These coatings will act similarly to rubber silicone decals, but without impacting the aesthetics of your bathroom.
- Some users like to use a shower chair while seeing to their hygiene. This helps increase safety and, it is especially useful for those who quickly get tired when standing.
- Make all your hygiene products easy to reach so you’re not at risk of falling while getting your shampoo or soap.
- Invest in a single-handle faucet. This will mix hot and cold water, giving you easier control over water temperatures, allowing you to shut the water off in case of an emergency.
- Get a mobile shower head. It won’t restrict the area or positions in which you can bathe.
- Avoid hot water burns by setting your water heater temperature to 120°F. This way, even if you’re unable to shut the water off, you won’t risk serious skin damage.
- If your bath mat doesn’t have a non-skid bottom, you can use some traction tape to make sure it doesn’t shift once you put your weight on it.
The next step in making your bathroom senior-friendly is installing a safety system that will allow you to get help in case of an emergency. The GetSafe Voice-Activated Medical Alert System Mini Console was designed to be used in areas such as the bathroom. It is a compact, easy-to-use method of getting help in case you need it. It is water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about splashes, and offers several ways of calling for assistance. You can use the button or the pull-cord (which can be removed prior to installation). But, it also allows you to say “call 911 call 911,” and you’ll be automatically connected to a live operator who’ll ask you whether you require help.
Those who don’t mind a wearable can also use a help button with an auto fall detection device. What’s great about this type of device is that it will automatically send an “assistance required” signal should you lose consciousness. These buttons are 100% waterproof, so you can shower while wearing them, or even use them in a pool or sauna.
Of course, there are other precautionary measures you can take to make your bathroom safer for all household members. These include making sure the bathroom and kitchen floors are always dry. This is easily done by installing a couple of water-leak sensors around your house.
If you’re worried about visibility (especially during nighttime bathroom visits), consider the benefits of a connected home. Nowadays, there are easy-install motion detectors and even sensors that detect when a door is opened. This way, a light can be turned on without having to press a switch, which is particularly handy for high-risk places.
Following these guidelines to making a bathroom senior-friendly shouldn’t be too difficult. Additionally, it doesn’t require any excess investments as the costs of installing a GetSafe Medical Alert System start at below $100. This buys you the safety equipment needed to cover a small home. And, in truth, this is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes knowing that all family members, old and young, are protected against common home accidents.