How to Equip a Bathroom for Elders: A Complete Guide

How To Equip A Bathroom For Elders A Complete Guide

It is important to make sure that the elderly can easily and safely use their own bathrooms.

If they feel safe in their bathrooms, it can help them age with dignity. Designing an accessible and safe bathroom can help make it easier for them to use the bathroom and help them feel more independent.

If the bathroom doesn’t have the right aids to increase accessibility, it can be an unsafe place for the elderly.

Seniors can have trouble maneuvering in bathrooms, and taking certain steps to make them safer can make a huge difference in their quality of life.

The bathroom should be easy to move around, easy to get to, and equipped with certain aids so that seniors remain steady.

Here is how you can improve bath safety for elderly members of your home.

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Why Is Bath Safety For Elderly Important?

Why Is Bath Safety For Elderly Important?

Every year, one in three people over the age of 65 years fall.

If they are lucky, they can get away with the fall with merely a scraped knee or minor bruise. However, if you fall inside the bathroom, it can be really dangerous.

In 2011, the CDC found that nearly 200,000 Americans were treated for bathroom-related injuries in emergency departments.

Bathrooms can be hazardous due to all sorts of reasons. They are slippery and have very few solid things to grasp when you are falling.

This can greatly increase the risk of serious harm. Falling in the bathroom can result in bruises, cuts, scrapes, broken bones, head contusions, and spinal cord injuries.

While anyone can fall or stumble in the bathroom, it can be especially dangerous for the elderly.

They have poor balance and muscle strength due to age, which can increase the risk of greater injury and falls. Their injuries also take a long time to heal, which can be very frustrating for them.

Most falls in bathrooms occur when:

  • Getting out or in the shower or tub
  • Getting up or sitting down on the toiler
  • Walking while attempting to use sink tops, towel bars, or other objects for balance

Other things that can increase the risk of falling include:

  • Non-slip-resistant shower chairs
  • Difficulty stepping into or out of bathtubs
  • Slippery surfaces, such as bathtubs and showers
  • Slippery floor tiles
  • Towel racks that are secured sufficiently
  • The low height of the toilet that is difficult to get up from

What Do You Need For Bath Safe For Elderly?

What Do You Need For Bath Safe For Elderly?

Some aids can be used that are easily available in stores and online websites.

You can use the following to secure your bathroom:

Grab Bars

Many seniors are forced to use shower or tub features and towel bars to aid in climbing out or in the tub/shower.

The problem is that towel bars aren’t built for supporting such weight. It is important to install grab bars in the right places to aid the elderly in balance while exiting or entering a tub or shower.

Grab bars are designed for seniors who have adequate upper body strength. They should be able to hold onto the bars while they are walking, moving, or standing.

You should make sure that you get slip-resistant bars that come with a nice grip surface rather than one with a gloss finish. The bars should be secured into the wall and visible against the walls.

Tension Pole

If you are looking for an alternative to the grab bars, you can also get tension poles.

he tension pole is attached from the ceiling to the floor. It gives seniors something to hold on to for support and balance.

Shower Chairs

Shower Chairs

Shower chairs are really great tools to provide stability to the seniors who have difficulty with balance. It is also great for the elderly who face difficulty with standing for long periods at a time.

Do make sure to get a shower chair with rubber tips on the legs. This can prevent it from sliding in the water, which can increase bath safety for elderly family members.

It can be really easy to use hand-held showerheads since the elder can remain safely seated during the entire process.

Raised Toilet Bars

It can be difficult for the elderly to lower themselves onto the toilet seat or get up from it safely.

A raised toilet bar can provide support as you stand up or sit down.

Raised Toilet Seat

Raised Toilet Seats

If you have a really low toilet seat, it can mean trouble for seniors every time they sit or stand from the toilet.

The raised toilet seat can help raise the height of the toilet by 3-4 inches. This can reduce the amount of distance that has to be covered every time you squat down on the toilet.

Walk-In Tub

Walk-in tubs can increase bath safety for elderly people.

With this type of tub, the seniors in your family will be able to easily step into the bath while it is dry. They can fill and drain it before they step out of the tub.

Since there is no need for climbing over the edge of the tub, you will be able to reduce the risk of slipping in the tub.

Another thing you can do is to make sure that the controls for the tub are near the front so that seniors don’t have to reach too far.

Non-Slip Mats

Non-slip mats can reduce the risk of elderly falling when they are getting in or out of the shower or tub. The non-slip mat can help the elder feel more stable as they walk in the bathroom.

You can put a mat inside the shower to prevent slipping as well as outside. A non-slip rug by the sink and the toilet is also a pretty good idea since it can reduce the danger of slipping on the bathroom tiles.

Adhesive non-slip strips can also be used on the floor inside the shower or bathtub, which can increase bath safety for elderly people.

The strips also act as a visual cue since it can be hard to see the end of the bathtub floor if it is a one-tone color.

You can also place these strips on the edges of your sink if the seniors in your family tend to use the edges as support.

Bath Bench

The bath bench reduces the problem of stepping out and into the tub regularly. If you can’t afford a new walk-in tub, the bath bench is the next best thing.

You can sit down safely onto the bench and then slowly side into the tub. It can also be great for a hand-held shower since the elderly can safely sit down while bathing.

Storage

Toiletries and other items should be accessible. It is easier to use pull-out drawers rather than cupboards for one thing.

However, it is generally a good idea to go for open storage options that can make it easy for senior members to grab a washcloth or towel.

You should limit the number of times that elders have bend down or stretch to get soap or shampoo. You can use mounts to make sure that the toiletries are within reach without bending, reaching, or any unsteadiness.

How Can I Make My Bathroom Safe For Seniors?

How Can I Make My Bathroom Safe For Seniors?

There are a few extra measures that you can take to increase bath safety for elderly people. Here are a few tips that you should note:

  • Caregiver assistance can make sure that there is someone nearby in case they slip or experience dizziness.
  • Regular cleaning of the bathroom can ensure that any slippery coating lining on the shower or tub is removed. Soap scum or mildew should be clean, and any clutter should be removed to prevent falling.
  • Telephones in the bathroom can make sure that the elder can get help quickly in case they injure themselves or fall. This can be a life-saving measure for elderly people who live alone. You can also get a waterproof medical alert system.
  • Bathroom doors that swing in or out can endanger people since seniors may fall against the door. It can also impede access in case of a serious fall.
  • Lighting needs to be considered too. A well-lit area reduces the risk of a fall, especially in the night. The pathway to the bathroom should also be well-lit.

How to Install Grab Bars

Most grab bars come with instructions that you can follow to make sure that they are installed correctly.

However, if no instructions are available, here is a guide on how to install grab bars.:

Get the Tools

The tools you will need to make sure that you do the right job are:

  • Pencil or pen
  • Masking tape
  • Electric drill
  • Grab bar
  • Tile and glass bit according to the size of the wall anchors
  • Wooden metal or a general-purpose bit according to the size of the wall anchors
  • Hand screwdriver
  • Wall screws
  • Silicone shower caulk

You should examine the grab bar kit carefully as well. You should check whether the anchors match the tile bit diameters or what screws are included.

Check the Mounting Location

The location of the grab bar can depend on the user and the location of the wall’s studs.

The studs can be located by knocking on the wall above tiles, using a stud sensor, or checking the wall from the other side. 

You can learn more about where exactly to place the grab bars more below.

Marking the Studs

Mark the right location of the studs and then extend the mark till the location of the grab bar.

Use the masking tape to indicate the location of the studs since that will show you where the screws are supposed to go.

The masking tape will also prevent the drill bit from skidding across the tiles and damaging them. It also prevents the tiles from cracking up.

Pre-Drilling the Pilot Holes

You will have to use tile and glass bits in the shower if your walls are tiled-showers usually are. You can use spade tips, but diamond tips are recommended since they last longer.

You will be able to select the right size to drill according to the anchor. You should select a drill bit that can get as close to the size as possible, but make sure that it doesn’t get bigger than that.

Most grab bars require 1/8 inch hole as close to the center of the stud as you can get. You can drill the remainder of the hole if you hit solid wood.

If you don’t hit it, you can use a piece of bent wire to poke the hole and find the stud. You will have to reposition the bar so that it is over the new studs.

You don’t have to worry about the unused hole since that will probably end up covered by the mounting plate of the grab bar.

When you have passed the tile, you will need a wood bit to get through the cement or wood board behind the tile. You will end up ruining the bit or not finishing the hole if you don’t change the bit.

You can use a 5/32 inch bit for the wood and a ¼ inch tile and glass or masonry bit for the tile.

Securing the Grab Bar

The next step is to install the wall anchors in their place. Most of them are simple plastic wedges that you can hammer into the holes you have drilled.

This provides something for screws to grip into. After installing the wall anchors, you should slide in the screws through the bar and then put the grab bar on the wall.

Tighten the screens, making sure that you are following the instructions that came with your grab bar kit.

You can use number 10 or 12 pan head stainless steel screws.

Do make sure that the screws are long enough to go into the studs by at least an inch so that they are secure enough.

Make sure not to use toggle bolts at the end of the bars since they rely on the wall backing’s strength. They will not be secure enough for a grab bar at all.

Sealing in the Seams

The seams of the grab bar need to be sealed in at the seams with silicone caulk. If you don’t do this, the water can seep through the tiles and into the holes.

This can cause the wood to rot, and the grab bar can come loose. Even a small bead of silicone should do the trick to secure the grab bar where it meets the wall.

Some people even caulk the back of the flange before they screw the bar into the place in the wall. This can help make sure that the bar is securely in place and strong enough to support the weight of the bar.

Test It Out

Do make sure that you test the grab bar by pulling on it. Before testing, do make sure to give the silicone caulk around an hour or two before you test it out.

Start by giving it a small amount of force while pulling to make sure that it isn’t loose before trying with more force.

Let the caulk dry for around 24 hours before you run the water in the shower.

Where to Place Them?

Where To Place Them?

You should observe the elderly and notice where they tend to grab their surrounding walls or shelves to balance themselves.

You aren’t trying to change their habits but rather just assist them. There are three main areas where grab bars are usually placed: the toilet, shower, and bathtub.

Toilet

A short grab bar on the wall(s) should be perfect if the toilet has a wall on the sides.

You can also install U-shaped bars that look more modern. There are some flip-up models and solid standard types that you can use.

If there is no wall near the toilet to place the grab bar, then you will have to use a toilet frame bar. This attached to the toilet itself for security.

A security pole can also be used even though it is a little more unconventional. This is similar to the tension pole that is better for rental properties or apartments.

Shower/Bathtub

In the shower or bathtub, the tiles can get quite slippery and wet.

To increase bath safety for elderly persons, you should install a grab bar at the entrance wall of the shower stall. Usually, the bar here is installed vertically.

You can also install the grab on the side where it is usually placed horizontally. You can also install the grab bars near the faucet handles vertically.

Conclusion

It is important to take out some time to make sure that the bathroom is safe and secure for seniors in your family.

This can reduce the risk of very serious injuries for them and can make them feel more independent in the bathroom. Bath safety for elderly people is a vital step to making sure that no injuries occur.

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