Top 5 ways to outfit the bathroom for disabled or elderly loved ones

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Re-Published from the Assistive Technology Blog. Click here for original article

Bathrooms can be very dangerous, both to the disabled and the elderly. The smooth surfaces, awkward movements, and generally solitary usage of the bathroom makes it one of the most common areas for accidental falls and injuries to occur, both for the elderly and the disabled.

black and whiote photo of an accessible bathroom

However, given the prevalence of falls and injuries in bathrooms, there are many useful products on the market that can help prevent falls, and allow greater autonomy.

Let’s take a look at 5 of the best ways to outfit bathrooms to help your loved ones avoid falls and other dangerous situations, and give you greater peace of mind.

Grab Bars

Grab bars are perhaps the single most important addition you can make to a bathroom to help your loved ones avoid falls and injuries.

These simple devices are generally made out of a durable plastic or a high-quality stainless steel, and can be applied to walls in the shower, bath, or next to toilets to allow for increased grip and stability during awkward movements, such as getting on or off the toilet, stepping over a shower landing or a tub, or getting feet situated on a more slippery surface.

Grab bars are especially important for the disabled, as those who have trouble walking or are confined to wheelchairs will be unable to otherwise pull themselves onto the toilet.

They’re inexpensive, easy-to-install, and highly recommended as a preventative measure for falls.

Anti-Slip Mats

Anti-slip mats are incredibly important – but not just any mat will do. In fact, improperly secured mats and rugs are another leading cause of falls and injury among the elderly – a poor quality mat, or one that’s installed incorrectly, can actually increase the risk of injury in the bathroom.

bright blue textured anti-slip mats

The best anti-slip mats are made of a solid, durable rubber which offers great traction, and are usually quite thick – the thickness of these mats prevents the corners and edges from turning or flipping up, and reducing the hazard of tripping.

Anti-slip mats should be placed wherever slipping is likely to occur – not just in the shower, but also on smooth tile surfaces that are likely to become wet, or in front of the toilet if stability is a concern.

Shower Stools

The shower is one of the most dangerous areas in the bathroom. Most often, the cause of a fall in an elderly or disabled person in the shower can be traced to slipping – covered with an anti-slip mat – or fatigue.

The hot temperatures of the shower, combined with an inability to change the temperature or move easily out of the way of the water can cause an elderly person to lose energy and fall.White adjustable shower stool

The best way to combat this is with a shower stool – these high-strength, high-traction, durable products are built to stand up to the shower, and allow your loved one the option of sitting down if they feel that standing is too tiring or risky.

Disabled people generally need shower stools for other reasons – if they cannot stand, a stool makes for a much more comfortable experience than sitting on the floor of the shower or the tub, and even those who can walk may wish to have the option to sit in case they feel tired.

Raised Toilet Seats

Though the shower is often thought of as the main culprit behind accidental falls, the toilet is just as likely to cause serious injury to an elderly person, and disabled Toilet with large raised cushioned seat cover people often have trouble adjusting to the awkward movement necessary to sit on a standard-sized and shaped toilet seat.

The best way to help prevent toilet falls is by making the toilet easier to access, and a great way to do this is with a raised toilet seat. These seats usually offer a 5-8 inch rise in height, along with other features like lockable latches and extra side handlebars to aid sitting and standing.

Make Sure That Bathrooms – And Hallways – Are Well Lit At Night

The elderly tend to visit the bathroom more than younger people – and quite a bit more at night. This can be dangerous – especially if there is a long connecting hallway between the bedroom and the bathroom. Often, there are unexpected objects and obstacles in hallways, and if these areas aren’t well-lit at night, your loved one could stumble and fall.

The hallways leading to bathrooms should be lit with as many night lights as necessary to illuminate the path to the bathroom, and ensure that any unexpected object can be seen and reacted to. Motion-sensing lights can be purchased if you’re worried about wasting energy.

The bathroom should also be well lit at night – a night light or motion-activated light is a good idea, as it will allow your loved one to easily locate light switches and other necessities with ease.

Make a Big Difference with Small Tweaks

While the bathroom still can be a risky area for the disabled and the elderly, the above five solutions are inexpensive, easy to implement, and can have a huge effect on your loved one.

Allowing your loved one to be able to use the bathroom with greater autonomy and peace of mind will also help you and the rest of your caregivers relax, knowing that you’ve protected your loved one from the risks of bathroom falls to the best of your ability, and that they have all the tools they need to stay safe. Ability Tools partners with different programs across the state of California that accept different types of durable medical equipment like shower chairs, wheelchairs, walkers, commodes, and much more. To find out more about these programs and where they are located click here.


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This post was written by the team.

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