The bathroom is a really scary place for a senior who is losing his or her independence.
It’s an even scarier place for their loved ones who fear accidents and falls. Statistically, the elderly are most likely to injure themselves in the bathroom.
However, the right tools and devices make the bathroom a safer place. But with so many options, how do you choose?
Below are some must-have bathroom safety products that can increase and even restore your independence and help establish a safe bathroom for seniors and elderly people. Many of these products I recommend daily at the medical equipment store where I work!
Where in the Bathroom Do You Need the Most Help?
There are varying degrees of help that the elderly need in the bathroom. You should identify the common hazards in the bathroom and prioritize them based on your situation.
First, you might have a little trouble getting up and down from the toilet.
Then, maybe you need someone’s help to take a shower.
Sometimes, your need progresses, and what works one day may not work the next.
I recommend that you discuss the use of any bathroom equipment with your doctor or therapist. They know your individual medical situation and can help with your decision.Scott Grant, CSA, ATP
1. Getting In and Out of The Shower and Tub
When you have balance or joint problems in your legs, stepping over the edge of a standard or garden tub is a real problem.
If lifting your leg is difficult, and it catches on the edge of the tub, a fall could easily happen. You might not have a place to brace yourself either.
In addition to an injury, maybe you worry about having an accident in the bathroom and someone having to help you while naked and in a delicate position.
There are many options that assist you with getting in and out of the shower and tub more safely:
- Grab bars can help a senior stabilize themselves while they raise their leg over the tub edge. These bars are often mounted to walls and offer maximum security when installed correctly.
- Clamp-on tub bars are also available that mount to the tub edge.
- Suction cup grab bars are now also an option for drilling holes in your shower.
- Permanent options like walk in tubs are very helpful. Tub transfer benches allow you to slide in and out from a seated position.
2. Standing Long Enough to Take a Shower
Standing to take a shower is very dangerous for some elderly because of weakness or poor balance.
A few options that help with getting in and out of the tub also help with showering more safely as well:
- Grab bars are used as a base of support if the elderly patient has minimal difficulty standing.
- The transfer bench discussed above is also usable as a shower seat.
- Shower chairs are seats that are usually plastic that you can place in the shower or tub and sit on while showering. Shower chairs come in many options, from plain, small benches to elaborate thrones with backs, arms, and cushions.
Once a safe position for showering is set, consider these ideas too:
- Non-slip bathtub mats are necessary to prevent slips and falls from a wet tub surface.
- Handheld shower heads with long tubing are very important. These allow the senior to shower without having to reach or stretch. The best ones have easy controls and long, tangle-free tubing.
3. Wanting to Take a REAL bath?
Once you begin having physical difficulties, taking a submerged bath seems impossible.
Baths have great benefits too, like soaking tired muscles and achy joints and creating a general state of relaxation.
But you can still benefit from a bath too! And bath lifts can help.
A bath lift slowly lowers you into a tub full of water. Then, it raises you up again at the touch of a button. Most have safety features too to prevent you from getting stuck in a tub full of cold water.
See some of my list of the best bathtub lifts in this guide.
4. Getting off and on a toilet
Getting up and down from the toilet seat requires good balance and leg strength. You need good leg strength to stand up from the seated position. But, you also need great balance to keep from falling forward or to the side.
To help you with this, consider the following bathroom aids
- Raised toilet seats clamp right onto the toilet bowl, giving you a higher seat. They also come with and without arms, depending on what you need. See my list of the best raised toilet seats for more info.
- Toilet safety rails mount to the toilet too. They help by giving you nice, high arms that make it easier to push up to a standing position. Sitting is easier too because you can use them to steady yourself. Learn more about these in my guide to the best toilet safety rails.
- Combine a raised toilet seat with toilet rails if you have significant trouble using the toilet.
- 3 in 1 commodes, aka bedside commodes or potty chairs, are extremely helpful too. While they are usually used in the bedroom, you can use them over toilet seats too. Just adjust the legs to the height you need, remove the bucket underneath, and then straddle it right over your toilet.
5. Cleaning Up After Toileting
Cleaning yourself up after using the toilet might cause you pain. Or, it might be nearly impossible to do at all.
Reaching around with an arthritic shoulder or elbow is painful. Maintaining your balance while cleaning could risk a fall.
But there are several product options that can help here too. Here are some of my favorites:
- Wet wipes are often the simplest option. They require less force than toilet paper. So, they are easier and quicker to use.
- Toilet safety rails can help here too. They give you a place to hold on to and steady yourself while wiping.
- Wiping aids are also available. These devices are basically curved wands that hold toilet paper at one end. You use the wand like an extension of your hand for cleaning yourself.
- Bidets are also extremely helpful too. And, the great news is you don’t have to go through the hassle of installing one. There are several devices out there that clip right onto the toilet in just minutes.
My 10 Must-Have Elderly Bathroom Safety Products
Ok, if you asked me what my top recommended bath safety products are, here you go. Each of these devices I have used and recommended to my own patients based on their needs.
1. Drive Medical Premium Series Shower Chair with Back and Arms
Shower chairs have been around for years, and there are so many options to choose from. But, I recommend a shower chair with a back and arms for safety and comfort. This model from Drive Medical is my favorite.
There are several reasons why:
- This shower chair has a back and arms for support and safety.
- You can assemble it without tools.
- Installation is easy. Just pop on the legs, adjust them to the height you need, and sit it in your shower or bath. That’s it!
- It’s lightweight and portable. You can quickly disassemble it and throw it in the trunk for a quick road trip.
- Very little cleaning is required. Just wipe it down from time to time.
- It fits a wide variety of users: The seat dimensions are 21-3/4″ wide by 16-1/2″ deep. The seat height even adjusts from 16″ to 20-1/2″. Plus, the weight limit is 350 lbs.
It isn’t the cheapest shower chair you’ll find, but I think it has the best value because of all the important features it includes.
Want to learn more about shower chairs? Click here to read my guide to the best shower chairs.
2. Medline Bathtub Safety Grab Bar
Can you stand for a shower but getting over the tub edge is difficult or unsafe? The Medline Bathtub Grab Bar can help with this problem.
I love that it locks securely to the tub edge without damaging the tub. No permanent installation is required! And, you get a secure handle to hold onto while entering and exiting the tub without having to drill into your walls.
Why I recommend this model specifically:
- Easy to install! Simply clamp the bar onto your tub edge. It uses rubber-lined pads so that it doesn’t damage the tub surface. Just check it every now and then to ensure it is still tight.
- Easy to clean! It is made of PVC-coated steel. So, it won’t rust and just needs an occasional wipe down.
- Easy to use! Just hold onto the 6″ handle as you step in and out of the tub. This helps you balance yourself and makes you more stable.
A product like this is best if you just need some help getting over the tub edge. If you have difficulty standing for a shower, this won’t be as helpful
3. Carousel Sliding Transfer Bench with Swivel Seat
A sliding bath and shower chair truly offer you the most secure and safe way to enter the tub and shower.
Transfer benches allow you to remain seated during the entire bathing process – from getting in the tub to getting out. No need for scooting, shifting, or standing. This device does all the work for you.
Here’s why a sliding transfer bench is better than a standard shower chair:
- Vision problems? The brightly colored seat is easier to see than a white shower seat.
- The padded seat, back, and arms lower the risk of skin tears and breakdown.
- Pivoting armrests makes transfers easier because the arms move out of the way.
- Because the seat slides, you won’t have to scoot across the seat. This scooting motion can cause skin tears in elderly people because of their frail “onion” skin. A sliding seat nearly eliminates the chance of injury.
- The swiveling seat is easier to get on and off of. That way, you can find the safest and easiest place to get on the bench.
- A seatbelt is included! Tool-free assembly for easy installation. Breaks down for travel too!
The Carousel Sliding Bath and Shower Chair is a premium product and may not be within everyone’s budget. But you should still consider it for anyone needing help getting out of the shower, especially if they are at risk for skin problems.
Read my guide to the best tub transfer benches here to learn more.
4. Gorilla Grip Original Patented Bath, Shower, Tub Mat
A bath mat is an inexpensive but important safety tool. Many slips and falls happen in showers among both the young and the elderly because a bath mat is not used. A simple non-slip bathtub mat can make a huge difference in your bathroom safety.
Here is why I recommend this one:
- The top surface is textured and allows you to move while reducing your fall risk.
- The entire undersurface is covered with suction cups to stay safely in place.
- It’s larger than most. The 16″ X 38″ size gives you more room to move without worrying about your feet leaving the mat.
- This mat is anti-bacterial and resists the growth of mold and mildew, and it looks cleaner longer.
- It’s machine washable and easy to keep clean.
This mat has every feature I look for when advising my senior patients on bathroom safety. While it may not be as “stylish” as some other non-slip bathtub mats, it is clear and won’t clash with any other bathroom decor. But it is safe and functional!
5. Vive Suction Grab Bar
Suction cup grab bars install easily on any flat, firm surface without damaging it. This is really important if you have a tiled or fiberglass shower where the last thing you want is permanent holes.
You might have doubts about their safety, though. In my experience, they are very safe if installed properly by following the manufacturer’s directions.
However, not all suction cup grab bars are the same. After a lot of research, I found that this model from Vive is the highest rated with great user satisfaction.
For safe use, these must be installed on SECURE, flat, non-porous surfaces like ceramic tile (not on grout lines), glass (not on the shower door), and fiberglass and acrylic tub surrounds. As always, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation. For the best suction, always make sure the surface is clean and dry before installing any suction grab bar.
Other important features:
- Color indicator tells you if the grab bar is stuck to the wall properly with a simple green is good; red means no system.
- Easily re-positioned for portability or use in multiple areas of the shower if your condition changes
- Very sturdy and supports 300 lbs.
- Comfortable grip with soft rubber handles two sizes to choose from 12″ and 16″
6. AquaSense 3 Setting Handheld Shower Head
Another important product to consider is your shower head.
Let’s think through how you would shower from a seated position. First, reaching up to the shower head is impossible without stretching. Second, you are constantly hit in the face, or the water misses you completely. So, you try to reach or stretch to adjust the water flow – risking a fall.
A handheld shower head with a long hose easily solves this problem.
And here’s my favorite one:
- Extra-long hose. The seven feet-long hose is durable and long-lasting. It is also tangle-free to reduce the chance of you tripping!
- 3 Spray settings. You can have a standard, narrow or wide spray by turning the dial. This saves water and reduces spraying outside the tub area. Wet floors = higher risk of falling.
- On/Off Switch is located at the handle base, so you don’t have to stand to turn it on or off.
Not all of them are safe for elderly users, though. You want one with a long but tangle-free hose and simple controls on the handle.
See more of my recommended shower heads in this guide.
7. Drive Medical Whisper Ultra Quiet Bath Lift
Do you prefer a bath over a shower? Or, do you miss an occasional hot soak? Consider a bath lift!
Bath lifts gently lower you into the tub water by power. They use a pendant control similar to a hospital bed control. Once you finish bathing, push a button, and you rise back to the tub edge!
Bath lifts are a great way to restore independence with submersion baths safely.
Here is why I recommend this one:
- Lots of safety controls, including waterproof electronics, a floating remote control, and the bath won’t lower you if it doesn’t have the power to come back up.
- Rechargeable battery with warning indicator for continuous operation
- Easy tool-less assembly and installation with suction cups that hold the lift in place.
- Disassembles quickly and easily for travel.
- Reclining backrest lets you lay back and enjoy a relaxing bath
- Transfer flaps that flop over the tub edge for seniors who need to slide from a wheelchair. These fit both standard and garden-style tubs.
Yes, bath lifts are expensive, but I’ve seen them make a huge impact. If you enjoy a good, hot, soaking bath for relaxing tight muscles and achy joints, it just might become your favorite thing in the house!
8. Medline Toilet Safety Rails
Toilet safety rails are a good choice if you just need some help getting up and down. They give you the extra help seniors need by adding arms to your toilet set-up. Then, you can use those arms to push up or steady yourself on the way down.
Why I like these Medline Toilet Safety Rails especially:
- Easy to install – just remove your existing toilet seat and bolt the frame through those holes. Then, mount your toilet seat onto the frame attachment. It’s easy enough that installation can be temporary if you want to remove them later.
- Adjustable handle heights – this helps get the best fit for you and your toilet. They even telescope in and out and fit better if you are thin or a little wider.
- Easy to clean – The rails are aluminum and just need an occasional wipe-down for cleaning.
- Almost universal – These rails work well with elongated and round toilet bowls.
Always follow the manufacturer’s installation directions for safe use. Not properly installing products like these on your toilet could lead to a fall or injury.
9. Bottom Buddy Toilet Tissue Wiping Aid
While we are on the toilet (so to speak!), toilet hygiene might be another place you need help. And, you probably don’t want to talk about it either.
The Bottom Buddy Toilet Tissue Aid might be able to help!
This wand helps you reach the places you need to reach. It even grips dry or wet toilet tissue and releases them with the push of a button. You never have to touch used toilet paper! It comes with a storage bag for travel too.
You might have a bit of a learning curve, but after some practice, you’ll get the hang of it.
10. Evriholder SQ-2 Squeezit Tube Squeezer 2 Count
This simple little product makes your life in the bathroom much easier. Especially if you have arthritic hands and squeezing the toothpaste tube is extremely difficult.
This nifty little device fits onto the end of the tube and allows the toothpaste to slide out the end as needed. No tight gripping or squeezing is required!
If you are particularly thrifty, it’s also a great way to get every drop of toothpaste out of the tube.
What Other Bathroom Safety Products Do You Recommend for Elderly Seniors?
If you are researching bathroom safety accessories for a loved one, I encourage you to sit down and have a talk with them about their needs. Reassure them that tools like these will help them be independent longer. This may help them want to bathe if they can keep their privacy. Let them know that they should not feel ashamed when using these products.
You’ve read all about my favorites. Tell me about yours! Do you have a product you use in your bathroom that you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments below!
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