Senior-Proof Your Bathroom
With its slippery and hard surfaces, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in your home. Case in point: In 2008 (the earliest date for which statistics are available), an estimated 234,000 nonfatal bathroom injuries occurred in the U.S. among people 15 and older, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Protect yourself and your family by following these tips.
1.Ditch your throw rugs. These slippery floor coverings are the No. 1 cause of household falls. If you just can’t part with them in the bathroom, secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or slip-resistant backings.
2.Put nonslip strips, mats or tiles in your tub and shower to help prevent falls. To combat tripping, secure any loose corners on mats.
3.Be sure to keep the tub clean to counteract slippery soap scum or mold.
4.Keep the bathroom floor dry, making sure it has no water on it. A weighted shower curtain will help ensure that no water leaks onto the floor.
5.Place grab bars or rails in or around the bathtub, shower and toilet. When installed properly and securely, they’ll help you balance as you stand or sit and give you something to hold on to if you do slip. They come in a variety of lengths, textures and styles. (Note that a towel bar or a soap dish isn’t a substitute for a grab bar, as it’s not designed to hold your weight).
6.Your bathroom should be adequately lit during the day. At night, put a nightlight on the path to the bathroom. Within the bathroom, use a nightlight, or install an illuminated switch.
7.If your toilet seat is low, consider buying a toilet seat extender or a toilet with a higher seat. That way you can get up safely and with less effort.
8.Put a bath or shower seat or bench in the shower or tub. You’ll then have a place to sit.
9.Equip your shower with a handheld or adjustable shower head. You can maneuver it where you want it, minimizing your movement in the shower. Also, you can use it while sitting safely on your bath seat or bench.
10.Take your time. The more you rush, the more likely you are to fall.
By Stacey Feintuch
Reviewed by Health Monitor Advisory Board