For most, the bathroom is a sacred place. It’s where you take care of yourself. Shower, shave, change clothes…soak in the tub after a long day, lotion-up with your favorite moisturizer; and of course, it’s also where you take care of your business.
It goes without saying that the bathroom is a private space in your home. And, whether it’s basic hygiene, grooming, or any other personal enterprise, remaining independent while you’re in there helps preserve dignity. Sure, there may come a time when you require assistance. Or, maybe you currently have a loved one who receives some type of help in the bathroom. Luckily, there are plenty of aids and tools nowadays that are perfect for a wide variety of needs.
Let’s talk about staying safe in the bathroom. We’ll cover everything from creating a safe environment to safeguarding various personal care routines. We’ve even found the best deals on some highly-rated products! Continue on for our Ultimate Guide to Bathroom Safety.
Addressing Falls in the Bathroom
Each year in the US, over one-fourth of adults aged 65 and over experience a fall. It’s pretty unsurprising that a lot of those falls occur in the bathroom, considering how slippery surfaces can get and how often bending and reaching are necessary. There are plenty of easy changes you can make to reduce hazards that will not only benefit you, but anyone else you may share that space with! Here are some simple steps you can take to limit fall risks in your bathroom.
If remodeling is an option, then you might consider natural stone flooring for a truly slip-resistant surface. If remodeling is not an option, then consider these ideas:
Secure rugs with double-sided tape. You can find tape specially made for securing rugs to a surface almost anywhere (hardware stores, chain retailers, and even grocery stores).
Bath mats for your tub floor can reduce fall risks in the shower. Bath mats are usually made from either rubber or silicone and adhere to the tub floor using suction cups. They come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Some even have drainage holes so that standing water isn’t an issue.
Grab bars enable a person to maintain balance while standing. They also offer some assistance with mobility and can be especially useful for transferring. There are several basic types of grab bars to consider depending on your needs. Here’s what to know about each:
Vertical grab bars are most practical for doorframes or the entryway to a shower. They’re designed to act as a support for the user to hold onto while stepping over a threshold.
Horizontal grab bars have more than one use, although when used in the bathtub, they’re perfect for helping you stand up or support your weight when bending over.
Diagonal grab bars are for those who are able to stand on their own but may need help getting up after sitting. Diagonal bars make for an easier transition from sitting to standing when it comes to using the toilet.
Safety rails are heavier-duty bars perfect for use with toileting. These are generally better for those with more limited mobility.
It’s possible that as you age, you’ll experience some vision changes. Even if your eyesight stays mostly intact, the way your eyes respond to different lighting might change. No matter what your vision is like today, we can probably agree that decent lighting throughout your home is a plus that can help reduce some fall risks. Your bathroom is no exception to this. Be sure to make use of natural light, have easily accessible switches, and use night lights.
Bathtub and Shower
A walk-in bathtub or shower can provide accessibility and comfort in your bathroom, but, they can be costly. If falls are a worry for you, then consider these tub and shower accessories:
Shower chairs are a staple in many hospitals, care facilities, and homes across the county. Some come with adjustable backrests and others pull out all the stops, even folding up for easy storage; but they all serve the same purpose – allowing the user to sit comfortably while bathing. A shower chair is perfect whether you have limited mobility, trouble standing for long periods of time, or are at an increased risk of falling for any other reason.
Shower stools do the same thing but are smaller and more compact for easy storage and travel.
A transfer bench doubles as a shower seat and transfer device. Benches are usually designed so that two legs sit in the tub and two outside of the tub. The bench seat will slide in and out so the user can enter the shower while seated.
Preserve Your Style While Staying Accessible and Safe
Think you have to sacrifice elegance for practicality? Nope! Whether you’re updating your entire home or just modifying the bathroom, there are steps you can take to keep your style intact while staying safe!
First, consider hiring a certified aging-in-place specialist (CAPS) to assist with any remodels you’re doing. A CAPS can assess personal needs and identify potential changes to an area to ensure continued health and safety. A CAPS can be a consultant, a home service provider, or a contractor. Depending on your needs, you may want to ask a contractor if they’re ADA-certified as well.
If remodeling your bathroom is not in the cards, then don’t worry – there are still plenty of practical ways you can improve accessibility and safety in the bathroom that are both attractive and feasible. Here are some quick tips to try:
Remove the clutter in your bathroom by keeping toiletries in one place. Make use of wall space and built-in drawers. Removing the clutter will reduce fall risks, and consolidating to one or few storage areas will keep your visits to the bathroom organized.
If you’re using a shower chair, place a wall-mounted shower caddy on a wall close to the seat. Shower caddies come in all shapes and sizes, but one that can be stuck anywhere using suction cups is the best way to ensure your soaps and shampoos are at the perfect height for you.
Hanging lights can be a unique addition to your private space. A low-hanging design with no shades to cover the bulbs makes for a brighter room with a modern look.
If you have visual impairments, using contrasting colors on the items you use most often can help make navigation a bit easier. Consider installing a faucet that is brightly colored or using a toilet seat cover that stands out from the rest of your décor.
A single-handle faucet is stylish and practical for those who have trouble gripping and twisting a knob.
Grab bars nowadays can be much prettier than in years past! Install grab bars near the toilet, doorway, shower threshold, or anywhere else you might need some extra support.
A stackable step stool might not be the best-looking piece of equipment in your bathroom, but it sure can be the most convenient. Investing in non-slip step stools that stack and also fit neatly under the sink for storage is a must-have for anyone with limited space and high tub walls.
Aids & Accessibility in the Bathroom
For seniors with limited mobility or disabilities, everyday activities may become increasingly difficult as time goes on. Once effortless tasks like bathing or changing clothes can turn into a challenge. Gradually, assistance in one way or another will become necessary. To stay independent for as long as possible, here are some ideas and strategies for safeguarding personal care routines.
Shaving is a basic hygiene routine that doesn’t get much long-term planning. Think about it: all throughout your life, you’ve contemplated who you’ll marry, where you’ll retire, and probably even whether you’ll dye your hair or go natural gray someday. But, how many times did you plan for shaving to become a difficult task?
Men – If you’re a senior or disabled male who has trouble shaving, consider the use of some adaptive equipment. Online you can find straps that will help you hold onto your razor or weighted razor cuffs for those with an unsteady grip.
Women – If bending over to shave your legs has become increasingly difficult then try sitting in a shower chair or using a razor extender to get the job done.
If you require assistance when taking a full shower, then use dry shampoo in between washes.
Whether you’re looking to simplify your routine or put less stress on your arms, a two-in-one blow-dryer-brush combo will cut your hair drying time in half. Or, if holding a dryer for longer than a few minutes is difficult, try using a blow dryer stand.
If bending and reaching are an issue, try a lotion applicator. This is a handy tool that is essentially a third arm that will extend to reach your back, legs, and everything in between.
Toileting is a private routine that probably you want to keep private for as long as possible. Here are a few things that can help make doing your business a little more comfortable, depending on your needs:
Grab bars or rails either on the wall next to the toilet, or surrounding the toilet, can help the user stand up and sit down with little to no assistance. There are even rails that will attach to your toilet and adjust to fit your specific necessities.
For those who have difficulty reaching, a wiping aid can be used. More or less, it’s a reacher-grabber tool, but it’s specially shaped to hold toilet paper.
Raised toilet seats are easier on the hips and kees, making sitting and standing up easier.
Bathroom & Shower Equipment Buyer’s Guide
At Senior Resource, we understand that safety, health, and wellness are key elements for those who are aging in place to live long, happy lives in their own homes. It is our mission to educate and empower Baby Boomers, seniors, and caregivers and provide the tools necessary to do so. Part of fulfilling that mission means doing consumer research for you. Here, we’ve gathered the highest-rated equipment, products, and aids to assist with all of your bathroom needs.
Mobility issues can make life more difficult for older adults. Small things, like going to the bathroom, can become arduous tasks. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way! If you’re an older adult in the market for toilet safety rails or raised toilet seats, you’re in the right place.
For older adults with mobility issues, getting in and out of the bathtub can be a nightmare. Personal hygiene is important at any age but may be especially important for seniors. Even if bathing has become more difficult, you can still enjoy your bath time. From installing a grab bar to purchasing a shower seat, there is a myriad of things you can do to make your bathroom a safer place! Here are the top 10 bath lifts we found.
Did you know that up to eighty percent of falls in the home occur in the bathroom? From investing in a shower seat to installing grab bars, you can make your bathroom an accident-free zone. Here are some of our favorite grab bars.
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Originally published February 22, 2023
Jennifer is the Content Manager for SeniorResource.com and the Senior Resource Podcast Network. As a freelancer, she has contributed to numerous web publications over the last several years. As an educator, she has developed and teaches courses for 55+ adults at her local community college. Jennifer is married to her best friend with whom she shares four children.
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