The combination of steam, water, smooth flooring and transitions to-or-from the toilet or shower/tub, easily make the bathroom one of the most dangerous places in your house.
When it comes to falls, statistics show that nearly a high percent of falls amongst the elderly take place in the bathroom. This week we continue our blog series exploring smart aging-in-place modifications by tackling the dangerous and often unforgiving bathroom.
Considering the aforementioned dangers of the bathroom and the fact that it is one of the most highly used rooms in the house, the bathroom is a smart first choice when making modifications. If there is one room in the house that should receive the most attention and consequently most budget, it should be the bathroom.
With that being said, the following modifications range from cheap and simple to complex and expensive.
As with all of the other parts of the house we have covered in our series, having the bathroom in an easy-to-access location is a good starting point. An ideal aging-in-place home is a single level. However, with the right modifications, it is possible to live in a two-story house safely. If your elderly loved one wishes to age in a multiple-story residence, make sure there is a bathroom optimized for safety on each floor. This will make it easier for your loved one to access the bathroom without having to rush.
In addition to location, the bathroom should also be spacious and free of clutter. Having the space to safely maneuver a walker, can, wheel chair or any other mobility device will help reduce the risk of a mobility-related incident.
Transitions between standing and sitting are considered the most dangerous and run the highest risk for a potential fall. To reduce the transition distance between standing and sitting, the toilet seat height should be optimized for your elderly loved one. This can be accomplished inexpensively with a toilet seat extender, or expensively with an all-new toilet. Experts also recommend locating the toilet paper holder to a location that is easily reachable from a sitting position.
A close second to the standing/sitting transition in regards to potential risk of injury is the transition between getting into-and-out of the bath or shower. This is where bathroom remodels can get expensive in a hurry. Considering the risk for a slip or fall injury, at a minimum, the shower or tub should have a short threshold to enter. If the bathroom has a tub in which the elderly loved one needs to lift their feet more than a couple inches it should be replaced.
The bath or shower should ideally be a walk-in type system. In fact, there are several bath tub manufacturers that create sit-in tubs with a door designed to allow your elderly loved one to safely access the tub. It should also be mentioned, that if your elderly loved one is in a wheelchair, a curb-less entry with a minimum width of 36 inches is necessary. Finally, installing an anti-slip pad or coating in the tub can help minimize the risk of a slip-related fall.
Odds and Ends
Similar to toilet height, the height of one’s sink also plays a big part in injury prevention. The sink height should be set to prevent your elderly loved one from having to bend over or stand on their tippy-toes to safely wash their hands.
Grab and towel bars should also be strategically placed throughout the bathroom, close to the sink, shower and toilet. These will provide your loved one with a place to steady themselves and will also prevent them from having to traverse out of the shower sopping wet. To prevent slips, trips and falls, the floor should always remain free of water and towels.
Use SmartCells Fall Protection Mats
SATECH’s Fall Protection bathroom mats are easy to install or remove for cleaning, with optional drain-through, and an anti-slip surface.
The dual-stiffness structure of SmartCells fall protection products provides users with a stable standing surface that will not cause a balance impaired person to lose their balance, while at the same time providing 5-7 times more cushioning than a foam mat of the same height.
SmartCells cannot absorb liquid, so infection control issues can be more effectively dealt with, too.
SmartCells Fall Protection: We’ll be there when you can’t be.