11 Ways to Make the Bathroom Safer for Seniors


January is National Bath Safety Month and the ideal timefor seniors and those who love them to develop a plan for a safe bathroom environment. Falls are the number one cause of serious injury and hospitalization for seniors each year and many of these injuries occur in the bathroom. In fact, statistics provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) show that 80 percent of senior falls that happen in the home occur in the bathroom.

Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that one in every three senior adults 65 and over suffers a fall every year, and 1.6 million seniors seek emergency assistance due to falls annually. The primary causes of falls among seniors include slippery surfaces, lack of balance and obstacles on the floor that cause tripping. 

“Therefore, with a large and growing number of senior adults living alone today, it is critically important to assure that their safety and health are protected,” says Sara J. Thompson, NHA, Administrator at Saunders House in Wynnewood, PA. “And because of the multiple safety hazards found in the bathroom area, it is the ideal place to start to make the home safer for the senior in your life.

“Fortunately, there many helpful tips from senior safety experts that you can follow to make the bath environment safer.”

Expert Tips to Make the Bathroom Safer for Seniors 

As noted above, the bathroom can be an especially dangerous place for seniors.Thefollowing safety tips from Home Safety for The ElderlyHome Safety Tips For Older Adults and other sources can help you create a bathroom safety plan that works. For example:

  1. Install grab bars in the shower and near the toilet to make getting around easier and safer for your senior loved one. 
  2. Put rubber safety mats or strips in the bathtub to prevent your senior from slipping.
  3. If your senior loved one is having difficulty getting in and out of the bathtub, get a safety shower chair or bench. Shower chairs provide seniors with the stability they need for safe showering and also offer a place to rest.
  4. Install a secure shower caddy at arm’s height to help make it easier for your senior loved one to reach bathing items such as soaps and shampoos.
  5. You can also consider investing in a walk-in bathtub to minimize the risk of falls on entry and exit.
  6. A raised toilet seat is also recommended for your senior’s safety if they have trouble getting on and off the toilet. 
  7. Additional bath accessory items such as a hand-held shower head and a long-handled sponge can also make seniors’ bathroom tasks easier.
  8. Avoid throw rugs in the bathroom as they represent a serious safety hazard for slips and falls by seniors.
  9. Set the thermostat on the water heater no higher than 120° F to prevent your senior from being scalded.
  10. Make sure the bathroom has sufficient lighting to prevent falls or other injuries. Having a well-lit bathroom makes it easier for seniors to see potential hazards. Also, ample light is especially important for seniors with vision problems.
  11. For safety in the bathroom and other higher-risk parts of the home, such as the stairs and kitchen, consider a personal alert system for your senior loved one. Personal alert systems are especially valuable for seniors who live alone. 

Sara adds, “By following these bathroom safety tips, you can reduce the risks of falls and other injuries for the seniors in your life and increase their chances for a longer, healthier life. For additional information on bath and home safety, you can also consult AARP’s Bathroom Checklist and a general Home Safety Checklist by Kaiser-Permanente.”

We encourage you to stay current on a variety of senior health and caregiver topics by viewing our latest articles on our website. 

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “11 Ways to Make the Bathroom Safer for Seniors,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing care,restorative carememory carerespite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our short-term rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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