Older adult bathroom safety
Staying safe in the bathroom is important for people with joint pain, muscle weakness, or physical disability. If you have these problems, you will need to make some changes in your bathroom.
You can make several changes to protect yourself when you take a bath or shower:
- Put non-slip suction mats or rubber silicone decals in the tub to prevent falls.
- Use a non-skid bath mat outside the tub for firm footing.
- Have someone install a single lever on your faucet (if you don’t have one), to mix hot and cold water together.
- Have someone set the temperature on your water heater to 120° F to prevent burns.
- Sit on a bath chair or bench when taking a shower.
- Keep the floor outside the tub or shower dry.
Raising the toilet seat height can help keep your bathroom safe. You can do this by adding a seat cover or elevated toilet seat. You can also use a commode chair instead of a toilet.
Consider a special seat called a portable bidet. It helps you clean your bottom without using your hands. It sprays warm water to clean, then warm air to dry.
You may need to have safety bars in your bathroom. Grab bars should be secured vertically or horizontally to the wall, not diagonally.
Do not use towel racks as grab bars, they cannot support your weight.
You will need two grab bars. One helps you get in and out of the tub. The other helps you stand from a sitting position.
If you are not sure what changes you need to make in your bathroom, ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist. The physical therapist can visit your bathroom and make safety recommendations.
Denson, KM. Home care. In: Duthie EH, Katz PR, Malone ML, eds. Practice of Geriatrics. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 10.
Hile ES, Studenski SA. Instability and falls. In: Duthie EH, Katz PR, Malone ML, eds. Practice of Geriatrics. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 17.
Review Date: 1/17/2009 12:00:00 AM
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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