Making the Home Safer for Seniors and Those with Disabilities: A 5-Part Series
Part 3 of the series, Making the home safer for seniors and those with disabilities, focuses on creating safer bathrooms for better peace of mind. Seniors, loved ones, and caregivers are offered tips to make the bathroom space accessible and adaptive.
This third segment of the series, Making the home safer for seniors and those with disabilities, brings up issues surrounding a common fall-risk: the bathroom. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury for seniors and the truth is, these incidents are usually quite preventable with mobility devices. Don’t fall prey to bathroom danger, reduce risk around your home or the dwelling of a senior that you love.
Some tips for safer bathrooms and better peace of mind include feasible options
Did you know that approximately every 19-minutes, a person over the age of 65 is seriously hurt or dies from injuries sustained in a fall? While the Center for Disease Control (CDC) doesn’t track where falls occur, it is estimated that one out of four seniors over the age of 65 falls each year. What are the reasons for such startling statistics? There are some inherent characteristics of the bathroom that can make this a dangerous place for seniors:
- The bathroom is loaded with hard and unforgiving surfaces, potentially dangerous during a fall.
- It is not uncommon for the bathroom conditions to be slick or wet, which contribute to fall risk.
- The lighting in the bathroom isn’t always great; often too harsh or too dim, which is a recipe for disaster.
- The mere purpose of the bathroom makes it frequently used at night. Drowsy seniors may be less wary of hazards that can cause injury.
While you may not be able to widen doorways to three-feet for wheelchair access, you have other viable options that will make the bathroom a more safe and accessible space:
Grab bars are a simple and cost-effective way to prevent falls during activities of daily living, like brushing your teeth or reaching for a towel. These should be professionally-installed near the sink, toilet, and tub to give the senior a bit of support as they maintain their autonomy.
One of the great things about shower seats is their versatility; many may be used for more than showering, and fit nicely in the tub, under a sink, or near the toilet area. These provide a slick-free surface for seniors to sit as they wash their hair or groom, which can prevent a number of nasty bathroom falls.
Consider investing in a raised toilet to make it easier for seniors getting on and off the commode. Reaching for something to hold on to as seniors lower or rise from the toilet is the underlying culprit of many injuries, and fixtures that sit over the toilet can increase the height without any major plumbing renovation.
If you are designing a bathroom, talk to plumbing experts and mobility professionals about walk-in tubs to make everyday grooming a breeze. These eliminate the tricky task of raising and lowering legs over a ledge or side of the tub, which in wet conditions, can be treacherous.
Frameless shower stalls
Don’t have a tub? Talk to the experts about frameless showers without thresholds to make an easier transition for activities of daily living. It is reported that 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths resulting from falls occur annually; a frameless shower stall is a rather small investment to ensure your senior is not a statistic.
It is also possible to lower sinks to work with seniors that are in wheelchairs or that utilize scooters and other mobility aids. This could extend to the vanity, which may make everyday grooming far less arduous for the physically impaired.
Make the home safer for seniors and those with disabilities
Rising insurance rates for the aging population are due in part to nasty falls and injuries sustained around the home, and the estimated costs related to fall injuries was around $31 billion dollars in 2014. Make an investment in future health and well-being with fall prevention, mobility aids, and devices today.
Begin by talking to the experts
Call or consult with Pacific Mobility for your needs assessment and begin planning how to make your bathroom – or the bathroom of someone you care for – safer and more accessible. Accessibility is key when seeking to maintain autonomy and keep seniors as independent as possible; qualified experts in mobility aids can outline the best approach to modifying or augmenting your dwelling.
Being proactive about mobility aids now may prevent a fall later. Falls contribute to the debilitation and physical disability of seniors widely yet is often preventable with mobility aids, devices, and equipment. When you want to maintain independence and live in your own home, a fall can compromise this prospect and impact more than one life. Get your bathroom up to par with an accessibility makeover today!
President, Husband, Father, Grandfather Graduate of UC Davis- Bio Sci Major- Go Aggies! Jeff has extensive experience in all of Pacific Mobility’s products and services, and specializes in accessibility products as well as stairlifts, ceiling lifts and custom wheel chairs. His hobbies include spending time with family, gardening, mountain biking, exercising and off road motorcycle riding.
24 years as Owner/President of Pacific Mobility Center – selling, installing, and servicing stairlifts, porch lifts, ceiling lifts, pool lifts, handicap ramping, specialty wheelchairs, scooters, power wheel chairs, and other power mobility devices
Certified Environmental Access Consultant since 2008
Licensed General Contractor since 1998
Certified Aging in Place Specialist since 2016
Board Member for Home Access Professionals
Member of Association of Members of the Accessibility Equipment Industry (AEMA)