Elderly safety has always been an important issue, but the era of social distancing and self-isolating has proven that we need to be looking after our loved ones as much as we can. While accidents can happen on a dime, taking the necessary steps to ensure that their homes are as safe as possible is a great first step. Case in point, bathroom safety is a key component of home life that needs to be looked after.
Going to the bathroom is part and parcel of everyday life; we can't avoid it. That said, there's no denying that safety is also a huge problem as many accidents happen within bathrooms. For those living with seniors (or even those who have seniors in their life that they want to look out for), bathroom safety products are an absolute must.
Below is a guide to the bath safety products that are worth investing in to really make a bathroom as senior-friendly as possible.
There's a huge market for bathroom safety products. We'll be listing a few safety products you can start with below.
Some everyday safety essentials that you should have at home include the following:
This is an extremely important toilet safety investment that's also ridiculously easy to use and install. Since toilet seats can't be adjusted, a raised toilet seat makes it easy for the elderly to help themselves onto the toilet. You can also opt to purchase raised toilet seats that come with arms for additional safety and support.
Some toilet seat options come with splash guards, backrests, and padded seating for extra comfort. Since it can be embarrassing to ask for help when going to the toilet, a raised toilet seat allows seniors to do this task on their own.
Grab bars are another add-on that makes moving around the bathroom as easy as possible. Most grab bars are easy to install on their own, and loved ones can install them for you. You can also do a little test by walking around the bathroom and seeing where these grab bars should be placed.
As a general rule, grab bars should be placed near the toilet, in the entryway of a shower or tub, and by the shower or tub itself. You can install more than one grab bar inside the shower to make it more accessible. Consider installing these bars diagonally where possible, as it's easier on the wrists and allows the user to grip at various levels.
Speaking of showers, shower chairs are an absolute must for any bathroom. As with going to the toilet, there are some seniors who might just prefer to wash themselves—and a shower chair allows them to do just that.
You'll want to take note of how much weight a shower chair is able to carry, as well as how heavy the chair is itself (if your shower has limited space, you might need to move it in and out of the shower). Upright chairs should generally be a good choice for most seniors, but those who need extensive care might need a recumbent shower chair.
If showers have shower chairs, tubs have transfer benches. This bath safety product allows the user to easily slide in and out of a bathtub with ease. They work by having one part of the bench situated outside the tub, so the user can simply get in and then use the seat to slide into the tub. Since tubs are more slippery than showers, a transfer bench is vital to ensure proper safety.
Weight is once again the first factor to consider, while choosing between a bench with or without pads depends on the level of comfort your loved one wants. You can also decide whether your transfer bench will have a back rest or adjustable height.
While the above objects are essential for safety, the solutions below are to help ensure a better experience.
A lot of bathroom accidents happen purely because it was too dark to see anything. LED night lights solve this problem in a snap. These lights can be easily plugged into any outlet in your bathroom, making them great safety aids that give seniors some peace of mind when going to the bathroom on their own.
These LED lights work by having automatic sensors that constantly detect the ambient light around them. Once this ambient level drops below a certain amount, the light triggers on. This function ensures that these lights only work at night or in an event of a power outage.
Chances are you probably already have at least one non-slip mat in your home, as these are essential bath safety products for everyone. That said, go over the space once more and see if there are any uncovered areas that may need an additional bath mat or rug. If you already have rugs installed, make sure they're properly fastened to the floor to avoid any trips and falls.
Aside from bath mats, the anti-slip coating helps make bathtubs and showers easier to use. This anti-slip coating doesn't cost too much money and is a better option than the stick-on options that are available, as these can lead to mildew and other buildups. Painting on your anti-slip coating is also much easier than having to stick it on.
Aside from what products to buy, there are other factors you need to consider before you can start making your bathroom safe.
All of these upgrades can, theoretically speaking, be made on your own. This is good news for anyone wanting to save on professional fees, as well as families who would like to add these safety products now but are hesitant to let other people into their home. The trade-off is that installing these upgrades by yourself may take a bit more time.
On the upside, most of these products aren't too expensive. None of the items listed above should cost you more than $200, making it easy to budget for. Some online sellers may also offer expedited shipping options with an additional fee.
These safety aids can go a long way in keeping each bathroom trip fuss-free, but there are other ways you can consider upping the safety of the space. For starters, you'll want to make sure that the bathroom is well-lit. Making sure you have detachable shower heads can also make bath time easier for seniors.
If there's any clutter nearby, consider taking it out and moving it to storage instead. You'll want to keep essentials like soap and extra toilet rolls easily accessible, but additional clutter can make it hard to move around both inside and around your bathroom.
Last but not least, you should always be making these changes in consultation with your loved one to make sure that they're in charge of their own safety too. Keeping them involved in the decision-making process can also strengthen your bond and show that you only want what's best for them.
If you have any more questions about bathroom safety products for seniors, we're always here to help. Take a look at our other reviews on safety products such as overbed tables or bathtubs for seniors today!
William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.