The risk of falling is a terrifying reality for seniors. Falling is the second highest cause of accidental death in the world, and adults aged 65 and older are the highest age group to die from falls. Many times, these falls occur in one’s own home. 

The first task of preventing falls is home assessment, which typically shows that the most fall-prone room of the home is the bathroom. Slick floors, moisture, and movement to and from toilet and bath make people of all ages susceptible to slipping and falling, and potential injury. 

There are several changes a caregiver can make in the bathroom to make it safer for seniors and reduce the risk of falling. Here are six options. 

1. Slip-Proof Everything
A simple and quick way to make bathrooms safer for seniors is to slip-proof the floors. Adding non-slip mats to the floor of the bathroom, tub, and shower makes the surfaces less slippery, while bathmats outside a tub or shower absorb water that would otherwise end up on the floor and pose a slipping hazard. Non-slip texture may also be added to handrails and grab bars to improve grip, enabling improved balance. 

2. Install Grab Bars
Grab bars and safety rails are an important fixture in a senior’s bathroom. Installing these bars ensures that a senior will have something to assist them in getting in and out of the shower or tub. Portable or permanent support bars may also be installed around the toilet. 

Having a bar to grab can help a senior steady themselves if they slip, possibly preventing a fall. In the event of a fall, a senior can also use the bars to get back up and avoid injuries that occur from staying down after a fall. 

3. Install a Shower Chair
All seniors may benefit from a shower chair, but especially those who experience balance and mobility issues. There are many types of shower chairs to choose from, including a simple backless seat, a chair, or a larger bench. Transfer benches are another option, fitting over a tub wall and allowing the user to scoot into the bathtub. Any of these options allow a user to bathe without the worry of trying to balance on their feet. 

It’s also a good idea to install a handheld showerhead along with a shower chair so the user has more control over the water flow while seated.

4. Install a Curbless Shower or Walk-In Tub
For some seniors, lifting their legs to step in a tub or shower is no longer an option. Switching to a walk-in tub or curbless shower with a hose attachment are good alternatives for safer and more convenient bathing. These tubs and showers also make it easier to transfer a user to and from a wheelchair. These tubs and showers can be constructed, or a pre-fabricated unit can be installed in a home’s standard tub or shower space. 

5. Medical Alert System
A medical alert system is a critical tool to keep seniors safe anywhere they need it. Medical alert systems come with wristbands or pendants that users can wear in the home, as well as buttons to place in rooms of high risk such as the bathroom. With a press of a button, a senior can communicate with a call center in seconds and request help in an emergency. Some units include automatic fall detection so help can be dispatched if a user is unable to press the button after falling. 

Medical alert systems make it possible for a senior to get the vital help they need at the most critical times. Receiving emergency response can reduce or prevent additional injury in the case of falls. With many different providers and options to choose from, medical alert system reviews may help you make the best choice. 

6. Check Light Fixtures
As simple as it is, checking light fixtures can go a long way in promoting senior safety in the bathroom. Ensure that lighting reaches all parts of the room, whether that means replacing nonworking bulbs or adjusting the position of lights. Overhead lighting may miss some areas, potentially failing to illuminate fall hazards. Adequate lighting makes it easier to identify a puddle on the floor or a sharp object that allows one to prevent an accident.

Modifying a home for a senior can seem challenging, but it can be a major quality of life improvement that enables a senior to do simple things in the home without a caregiver present. Most of these modifications can be made on your own, or they can be a quick contractor project. You may find that the time and money spent making the changes is well worth the peace of mind gained.