To age in place successfully, you will likely need bathroom safety equipment for seniors. Whether minor or major, some changes will be necessary to accommodate physical declines that accompany age. It is smart to take a proactive approach, as the right bathroom safety equipment for seniors can reduce the likelihood of a costly fall.
This article will detail eight common bathroom safety modifications for seniors. Some of these products are easier to install than others, and your unique situation will dictate your needs. Remember to have an eye on the future in this planning – consider any bathroom safety equipment you or the seniors in your life may need in the years to come.
Table of Contents
- Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 1: Grab Bars
- Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 2: Safer Toilets
- Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 3: Shower Chairs
- Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 4: Hand-Held Shower Heads
- Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 5: Walk-in Bathtubs
- Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 6: Portable Bath-Lifts
- Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 7: Transfer Bench
- Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 8: Levers, Not Knobs, For Faucets
- What’s Next?
Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 1: Grab Bars
Grab bars are essential bathroom safety equipment for seniors. This preventative measure makes it less likely that an elderly adult will suffer a damaging fall.
There are many types and styles of grab bars to choose from. Selection will be impacted by the physical space, personal taste, and budget of the homeowner. You will also need to consider specific mobility and strength concerns. Standing grab bars, floor-to-ceiling grab bars, and more traditional bars all come in various styles and prices.
The traditional grab bars, which bind to the wall, come in vertical, horizontal, and diagonal varieties. Vertical bars provide less wall coverage, but they are easier to grip, which is good for seniors with limited balance and easier for those with arthritis. Further, a vertical grab bar behind a toilet can help an individual in a wheelchair stand and pivot to use the toilet.
Horizontal grab bars can replace a towel bar. Accidents often occur when someone uses a towel bar for support and it pulls out from the wall – replacing a basic towel bar with a horizontal grab bar designed as bathroom safety equipment for seniors can prevent a significant injury.
The placement of grab bars should be carefully planned. You will need bars near the toilet and both inside and outside a tub or shower. Weight limits should also be considered – follow the manufacturer’s directions for the safest practices with your bathroom safety equipment for the elderly.
Newer varieties of grab bars, such as standing grab bars and floor-to-ceiling grab bars, can be excellent in small spaces. These are often used next to the toilet and to assist with bathing. Nor does your senior bathroom safety have to be an eyesore – there are many decorative styles available.
There is one important safety point to keep in mind: suction-only grab bars should be avoided. While convenient, suction-mounted grab bars are typically not safe for bearing a senior’s weight.
Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 2: Safer Toilets
Low toilets can be difficult for seniors to sit down on and stand up from. As a result, you may want to consider installing a taller toilet. Another option is to install a raised seat on top of the existing toilet.
A third option is a 3-1 commode, a versatile piece of bathroom safety equipment for aging individuals. The 3-1 commode can be placed over the toilet and serves as a safety frame for added balance and leverage. It can also be used as a bedside commode if needs change and a senior is unable to get to and from the bathroom safely. The 3-1 commode can also serve as a shower chair for safe showering. Its versatility makes the 3-1 commode especially helpful for temporary situations.
Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 3: Shower Chairs
A shower chair is an easy showering solution for older adults at higher fall risk. If a senior has balance issues, or is not strong enough to stand for extended periods, a shower chair can be a great piece of bathroom safety equipment to add.
Shower chairs also make it easier for seniors with occasional dizziness to shower safely. Further, shower chairs facilitate full body washing without fall risk. For all these reasons, a chair can make a shower a more relaxing event. Be sure to select a sturdy, stable model with grips to prevent movement on the shower floor.
Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 4: Hand-Held Shower Heads
Hand-held shower heads are connected to the faucet with a hose. This makes it easier for a senior to wash, particularly if they are using a shower chair.
Hand-held shower heads are an essential bathroom safety equipment item, particularly if you are using a transfer bench (see Item 7). There are many choices of hand-held shower heads for seniors available at various price points. You may need to ask for help from a friend, but these shower heads, which replace the existing head, are fairly easy to install.
Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 5: Walk-in Bathtubs
For older adults who relish a warm bath, a walk-in tub is the safest option. Climbing into a traditional bathtub with a high side presents a significant risk. Moreover, some elderly with limited mobility cannot even attempt to get into this type of tub.
Ideally, both the bathtub and shower should be walk-in. There are a range of options, but professional installation is typically required. If this is beyond your budget, Bathroom Safety Equipment Items 7 and 8 may be a better fit!
Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 6: Portable Bath-Lifts
There are several options for portable bathtub lifts, which allow the user to be safely lowered into a traditional bathtub. When the bath is over, the portable bath-lift will also lift the senior out.
Some portable bath-lifts are cushioned, while others have a molded plastic seat. All are battery-operated to avoid electrical wires for safety reasons. Portable bath-lifts are designed for easy storage and travel. Prices range from about $600.00 to $2000.00.
Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 7: Transfer Bench
Another budget-friendly option for those with a traditional bathtub is a transfer bench. With a transfer bench, the user can safely sit on the bench, lift their legs over the side of the tub, and reposition themselves to sit over the tub on the bench.
Transfer benches typically have a narrow gap to allow the shower curtain to keep the water in the tub. The transfer bench pairs well with Bathroom Safety Equipment Item 4, the hand-held shower head. The hand-held shower head can be used to shower while sitting over the tub.
Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors Item 8: Levers, Not Knobs, For Faucets
Individuals with arthritis or a loss of grip strength can struggle to turn a knob. This is easily remedied by replacing the knob faucets in a senior’s home with levers. Levers are much easier to use for anyone with arthritis or experiencing a loss of grip strength.
If you or a loved senior plans to age in place, it is important to take steps to improve safety around the home as well as in the bathroom. Getting the right bathroom safety equipment into the home is an essential step, but you will also want to consider best behaviors to prevent an injury.
Your golden years should be a time to enjoy life, and you don’t want an injury derailing your plans. Add the right bathroom safety equipment for seniors sooner than later, and you won’t regret it.