Many seniors remain active and capable well into their twilight years, but this doesn't mean they are immune to the challenges we all face as we age. If you want to ensure the safety of any seniors living in your home (or visiting regularly).
Here are a few tips and tricks to senior-proof your bathroom.
As we age our bodies deteriorate in a number of ways. In addition to waning reflexes and overall decrease in strength and stability, our senses begin to dull. Sight and hearing loss may be the most notable, but our tactile sensitivity could also decline.
If this happens, seniors may not feel how hot the water is, and this could result in scalds and even burns if your water heater is set too high. The simple fix is to set the maximum temperature on your water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is also a good rule of thumb when you have infants and small children in the house.
Prevent Slips and Trips
There are all kinds of slip, trip, and fall hazards in the average bathroom that most adults never even think about. For those that have trouble walking, sitting, and standing, however, even a simple bathroom rug could pose a major risk.
If you want to prevent accident and injury caused by slips and trips, your best bet is to deal with slick surfaces, mainly flooring and tub/shower surfaces. You can add rubber tread to flooring and suction-cup mats to the tub or shower for optimal grip and a lot less slip.
Railings and handholds are also smart, especially for seniors that have trouble sitting or standing up, or alternately, standing for long periods of time. Installing a bench or their favorite shower stool is also a wise move. You should also make sure items like towels and toilet paper are within easy reach so seniors don't have to stretch or twist to get them.
Finally, consider the addition of a walk-in tub or roll-in shower. Tall tub sides and even pronounced lips on shower stalls could constitute a tripping hazard.
There's more to clearing clutter than simply improving the cosmetic appearance of your space - it can also make the bathroom safer for seniors. Naturally, you should move unnecessary clutter on the bathroom floor that can impede walking or cause tripping.
However, you should also clear off countertops as much as possible. You don't want a something as simple as mistaken hand placement to result in an avalanche of spilled and broken items that could prove hazardous for elderly loved ones.
Good illumination can only help seniors to better navigate their surroundings, especially at night when they have to get up and use the bathroom in the dark. Add nightlights or even automatic lighting for this purpose.
You'll see this in movies and high-end hotels, but the average bathroom generally doesn't feature a phone line. However, this could be the single most important safety feature you add. Should an elderly loved one suffer accident and injury in the bathroom, having a phone handy could just save his or her life.