7 Steps to Optimize Bathroom Safety for Seniors

Bathroom safety for seniors is a key consideration in creating a safer home environment for older people. A 2018 PubMed study indicates that bathrooms are a high-risk area for people of any age to suffer a fall-related injury. Given that seniors are more prone to falls, optimizing bathroom safety is an important step to minimize the risk of a fall-related injury.

According to a 2011 CDC study, the majority of fall-related injuries occur in the shower/tub or near the toilet. Simple steps to mitigate this risk include anti-slip flooring and bathtub mats. However, that is just the start. There are many strategies to optimize bathroom safety for seniors. This makes it important to educate yourself on appropriate bathroom safety equipment.

To streamline this process, this article outlines seven strategies to optimize bathroom safety for seniors and the elderly.

Table of Contents

Bathroom Safety for Seniors Tip #1- Add Non-Slip Safety Flooring in Senior’s Bathroom

There are a few options to make a slippery tile floor safer. Anti-slip coatings are widely available. You can apply these coatings as a “do-it-yourself” project or hire a professional. The coating can work for tubs or showers as well as the floor – be sure to check the instructions on your selected product.

An alternative is non-slip rubber mats. You can install these mats in areas that get wet, which creates a high risk for falls. There should be mats placed in front of the tub or shower, as well as by the sink and toilet.

Rugs without a secure non-skid backing are a hazard. You should remove them from the bathroom, as well as the rest of the home.

It is especially important to consider anti-slip products in the shower/tub. There are smaller, cheaper anti-skid options, but you want to invest in this product. A full-sized, anti-slip rubber mat with strong suction is a worthy investment to improve bathroom safety for a senior.

Bathroom Safety for Seniors Tip #2- Organize and Declutter the Bathroom

It is important to organize all areas of an older adult’s home to minimize fall risk. This is especially important in the bathroom given the increased odds of injury.

Ensure that there is minimal clutter on all surfaces to enhance bathroom safety. Organize the bathroom so all needed items are accessible and easy to reach. Dispose of expired medications and personal care products that are no longer in use. Clear the floor of any clutter or decorative items; uncluttered walkways are essential!

Bathroom Safety for Seniors Tip #3. Upgrade Lighting for Safer Bathrooms

Higher wattage light bulbs will enhance visibility and reduce fall risks. It is also advisable to add one or more night lights to your senior bathroom safety products. You can use traditional night lights, or the motion-activated versions now available. It is ideal to place the night lights at a low level. You can use them to illuminate the pathway to the bathroom, as well as the bathroom itself. This makes middle-of-the-night toileting needs far easier to manage.

Bathroom Safety for Seniors Tip #4. Ensure the Bathroom Door Opens Out

The bathroom door should be placed so that it swings out. This often-overlooked detail is a critical consideration.

This configuration allows for more space to navigate tasks in the bathroom. More importantly, it is a bathroom safety consideration for senior citizens. If the bathroom door opens inwards, and you or your loved one falls against it, it could block the door. On the other hand, an emergency response team can easily open an outward-opening door to help an injured senior. In the case of an emergency, door placement is a simple change that could have an immense impact.

Bathroom Safety for Seniors Tip #5. Regulate Bath Tub Water Temperature for the Elderly

Adjust water temperature to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit or 44 degrees celsius. Due to slower reaction times, impaired mobility, or sensory deficits elderly people can be at greater risk of scalding. Older adults may be unable to sense the overly hot water, may be unable to react quickly enough to adjust the water temperature, or may lack the mobility to make the needed adjustments.

Bathroom Safety for Seniors Tip #6. Use an Emergency Alert System in the Bathroom

If a fall does occur, an emergency alert system can be the difference between life and death. Emergency alert systems are an important senior bathroom safety product and they can also sound the alarm if a fall occurs in another area. You will want to follow proper precautions using electronic products around water, but modern devices such as Apple Watches offer fall detection and come with a SwimProof design. This combination of features is ideal for bathroom safety for the elderly, as it can sound the alarm if a senior slips in the shower.

Bathroom Safety for Seniors Tip #7. Add Other Bathroom Safety Equipment

When modifying a bathroom to make it safer for aging parents or other seniors, safety-enhancing adaptive equipment is essential.  There are many options available depending on an individual’s needs, space, and budget.  Must-have items include grab bars and other safety options to avoid falls while washing up, bathing, dressing, and using the toilet.

Here are some of the most important items for bathroom safety; for details, view our article on Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors: What are the Most Important Items?

  • Grab Bars
  • Safer Toilets
  • Shower Chair
  • Hand-held Shower Heads
  • Walk-in Safety Bathtubs for Seniors
  • Portable Bath Lifts
  • Transfer Bench
  • Levers for Faucets

Next Steps

Many home modifications are expensive, but there are many steps you can take to improve bathroom safety for the seniors in your life at relatively modest costs. If a senior needs to have a walk-in safety bathtub or portable bath lift installed, the costs can rise. However, the earlier you start to implement the cost-effective options, the lower the risk of the older adult sustaining an injury that requires expensive modifications.

To learn more about how to improve bathroom safety for elderly individuals, you can read the aforementioned article on Bathroom Safety Equipment for Seniors, or visit other articles in our Bathroom Safety hub page.

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Kathy’s mission is to use the Age Better Resources platform to share the knowledge she acquired over many years to help seniors understand how they can optimize their later years. Her hope is that the content on this site, the associated services or products available, and the experts she will share, will help you or your loved ones create a plan to live as many good days and years as possible. If immediate or more personalized support is needed, personal consultations are available.

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