Study after study has shown that the majority of older adults want to age in place in the comfort and dignity of home — and it’s important to make sure their spaces are ready to keep up! One of the most important rooms in the house to safeguard and update is the bathroom.
From age 9 to 99, we all use the bathroom each and every day. With that said, this room can present some health and lifestyle challenges for seniors. According to data from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), for instance, about one-third of all elderly adults suffer a fall each year — and of this group, about 80% of falls happen in the bathroom.
Many older adults lose some flexibility, balance, and strength over time, which can make it harder to safely manage everyday tasks like toileting, bathing, and grooming. Walking to the bathroom; sitting and standing from the toilet; using the shower; and cleaning up can all be more difficult for the elderly.
Creating a Senior-Friendly Bathroom
As a family caregiver, one important step you can take is to make your loved one’s bathroom more senior-friendly — and to make sure they’re getting the personalized support and care they need to remain independent, active, and safe at home.
Ready to get started? Here are five places to focus when creating a more senior-friendly bathroom:
1.) Making the Toilet Senior-Friendly
While so many people take the toilet for granted, it can pose some important health hazards for seniors. To make sure that sitting, standing, and using the commode are all as easy possible, consider:
- A raised toilet seat. For many seniors, elevating the toilet by even a few inches can make transferring on and off easier and safer. Look into raised toilet seats, or consider replacing your current model with a taller, elevated commode.
- Grab bars. Add grab bars in strategic places around the toilet, to make it easier for seniors to support their weight as they get on and off.
- Safety frame. In some cases, a safety frame may be a smart option. These devices can fit around toilets, and provide supportive armrests perfect for those with difficulty transferring on and off of a standard toilet.
2.) Updating the Shower and Tub
Who doesn’t love a nice warm shower or bath? For seniors, it’s important to make sure that bathing is as easy and safe as possible. Consider updates and features such as:
- A transfer bench, shower seat, or sit-down shower. Standing and balancing for an entire shower can be arduous. These devices make it easier for older adults to sit down and stay supported as they wash up and transfer in and out of the shower. These devices come in many forms, and may be installed in the shower itself, or purchased as separate attachments.
- Walk-in tub. Having to lift your legs to get in and out of the tub can pose a major tripping hazard. A walk-in tub provides a door, which makes it easier for people with limited mobility to get in and out safely.
- Sprayer or handheld attachment for shower. A handheld shower head can make it easier for seniors to bathe fully, while staying seated and stationary as much as possible.
- Adjusting the water pressure and water temperature. Excessively hot, forceful water can pose a danger to older adults. Consider adjusting the temperature on your water heater down a few degrees, or use a special shower head to control the flow of water so it is not too intense.
3.) Adding Non-Slip Mats
Bathroom floors can easily become slippery — and dangerous. To help seniors stay stable and keep their balance, consider adding skid-resistant, non-slip mats in strategic spots around the bathroom, including:
- In front of the sink or vanity
- Around the toilet
- In front of the shower or tub.
In addition to managing moisture and preventing falls, these useful mats can make the bathroom more comfortable, and add some welcome color and style to the room.
4.) Creating Proper Organization and Storage
When was the last time you and your senior loved one did a little bit of cleaning? If it’s been a while, it may be high time to take a pass through their bathroom. Here’s where to put your focus:
- Avoid clutter on the vanity and shelves. The more items you have out, the greater the chance of clutter falling, landing on the ground, and creating a slip and fall hazard.
- Make sure all items are in reach. This way, the senior does not need to strain or stretch to reach their bathroom items, which can cause straining and increase the likelihood of experiencing a fall.
- Get organized. Look into handy storage solutions that keep things organized, streamlined, and always ready to use. This way, the senior doesn’t need to waste time and energy sorting through everything — or risk accidentally picking up the wrong item at the wrong time.
5.) Getting the Lighting Just Right
Many older adults experience changes to their vision, which makes proper lighting all the more important. Check the lighting in your loved one’s bathroom to make sure that it is bright and clear.
Meanwhile, consider adding nightlights to the space. This can make it easier for seniors to find their way to the bathroom safely, especially when they get up in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning.
Is Your Elderly Loved One Getting the Support They Need?
Going to the bathroom is considered an “activity of daily living,” or “ADL.” Over time, routine ADLs start to pose more of a challenge to older adults — putting their health, safety, and independence at risk.
If your senior loved one needs a supportive hand around the house or help with bathing, grooming, or toileting, this can be a lot to take on alone — particularly for busy “Sandwich Generation” caregivers who have work and kids of their own to manage every day.
If your senior loved one wants to age in place but could use a little bit of support, a professional caregiver can help!
Available on a flexible schedule that suits your loved one’s needs, a companion can provide hands-on assistance with ADLs — from lending a supportive arm to seniors as they sit or stand, to assisting with personal matters like using the restroom, bathing and dressing. A companion can also provide assistance with housekeeping, laundry, and meal preparation, to help minimize common risks to seniors while still encouraging their independence.
With a companion assisting your loved one on a regular schedule, you can be sure that they’ll always have a helpful and supportive presence in their life, even when you can’t be there in person. This can be a flexible and effective way to make using the bathroom safer and more comfortable for seniors, while protecting their privacy and giving you back some well-deserved time and space as a family caregiver.
Companions for Seniors Is Here for You
Ready to talk over ideas for making your elderly loved one’s bathroom safer and more accessible? Curious about what it takes to get started with home care? We are always here and ready to keep the conversation going!
At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity at home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.
Our companions are trained and bonded, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help seniors age in place comfortably and safely – without having to uproot their lives and move into expensive and restrictive institutionalized care facilities.
We will work with your family to develop a personalized care plan specifically tailored for your loved one’s needs, and your own hopes and goals as a family caregiver. We believe in fostering an open dialogue and sharing ideas; always going the extra mile with our services; and providing flexible care at the right price for every household.
We are based in Chicago, with service available in the city and suburbs. Our companions are available on a full- and part-time basis, and can offer assistance with grooming, bathing, running errands, attending appointments, cooking meals, doing housework, and so much more.
Have any more questions? Interested in seeing what sets our home care services apart? Give us a call at 866-910-9020, or get in touch online using our contact form, available here.