Did you know that falls in the bathroom are a significant health risk for older adults? According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury and injury fatality for adults aged 65 and older in the U.S., with 80% of falls occurring in the bathroom. Preventing these accidents is crucial, as they can lead to pain, mobility issues and loss of independence.

The impact of falls can cause fractures, bruising, swelling, sprains and head injuries.  If you aren’t able to get up after the fall, you may suffer additional complications from being immobilized. This may include pressure sores, dehydration, hypothermia, pneumonia, and kidney failure. Fortunately, with some simple modifications, bathrooms can be made significantly safer for older adults.

Research presented in the Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine showed a significant gap between older adults who could benefit from bathroom modifications and those who actually have them in their homes. Approximately 12 million Americans age 65+ living in their own homes could benefit from modifications, but 42% (5 million) are currently going without these modifications, leaving them at risk for accidents.

Bathroom safety tips

Here are some helpful bathroom safety tips to help you live securely and independently. :

1. Install grab bars

Adding grab bars is a simple way to improve bathroom safety. Place them in the shower, next to the toilet, and by the sink for added support. Opt for a grab bar that reaches a minimum height of six feet for optimal assistance. Consider models that glow in the dark for added convenience and peace of mind.

2.  Modify your toilets

Many toilets need to be higher for older adults to use easily. Stooping down to access the toilet requires using abdominal muscles, which tend to be weaker than arms. To solve this problem, you can purchase an inexpensive pad to place on top of the toilet, thus raising the seat. You can also buy a toilet riser kit or a comfort-height (or chair-height) toilet from a home improvement store.

3. Add seating in your shower and bathtub

Shower chairs are a good option for individuals who are unstable on their feet. Several models are available, including wall-mounted height-adjustable chairs, adjustable rolling shower chairs and removable shower stools. Remember to remove any obstructions to getting in and out of tubs and showers.

4. Place slip-proof mats

Wet surfaces and soap residue pose a significant risk. To address this issue add non-slip bath mates or non-slip strips to provide traction. Many types of mats include suction cups to add security and reduce the opportunity to slip.

5. Fix poor lighting and remove trip hazards

Proper lighting in the bathroom, including task lights near the toilet and sink, can vastly improve visibility and reduce the chance of accidents. You may consider adding motion-activated lighting in the shower or entrance area so the room automatically illuminates.

In conclusion, it is crucial to take proactive measures to prevent falls in the bathroom, especially for older adults. By following these simple safety tips – installing grab bars, modifying toilets, adding seating in showers and tubs, using slip-proof mats, and improving lighting – you can significantly decrease your risk of experiencing a dangerous fall. These small changes can make a huge difference in preserving your health and independence. Remember, accidents can happen at any time, but with proper precautions and awareness, they can be avoided.

At Maxim Healthcare Services, we understand the importance of keeping yourself and your loved ones safe at home. That’s why we offer a range of home health and personal care services across the country to meet specific needs. Reach out to your local Maxim office to learn more about services available near you.