According to figures from the National Institute on Aging, eighty percent of all senior falls at home happen in the bathroom1.
Mobility, balance, good eyesight, and cognitive skills are all required to make a shower a safe place. But, these skills diminish as we age – like it or not.
This makes the bathroom one of the most dangerous areas for the elderly.
So, I created these practical shower safety tips for elderly people. Use them to keep yourself, or a loved one safe at this vulnerable time.
Video Guide: Shower Safety Tips for Seniors
1. Slow It Down!
Doing things in a rush increases the risk of a fall in the shower.
So, one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce the risk of bathroom accidents is to do things slower.
Take your time to make your way in and out of the shower. This includes turning the shower faucets on and off or even when reaching for bathroom supplies.
Using a slow but sure approach will keep you safer when using this risky area of the house.
2. Install a Barrier Free Walk-In Shower
Most showers have thresholds that are two or three inches high. And this makes sense when it comes to normal shower areas.
But, even this small height difference can present a huge safety risk where elderly users are concerned. It creates a stumbling block if you struggle to get your feet high enough to get over it. Forget it if you use a wheelchair or walker.
On the other hand, barrier-free shower stalls help eliminate the above problems by completely removing this threshold.
3. Install Grab Bars For Holding On
Falls usually occur due to a lack of balance.
Installing grab bars in the shower can help keep you from falling when you get in or out of the shower. They give you something to grasp for support and balance.
4. Use Only Non-Slip Surfaces on the Floor
To reduce falls associated with slips on these wet bathing surfaces, only use non-slip floor surfaces.
You can use any one of a variety of solutions to create non-slip surfaces, including stickies designed for use over shower floors.
Other solutions you can consider include non-slip tiles and coatings.
When installing non-slip surfaces, cover the entire shower floor, not just a few patches. Simply put, this eliminates any slippery surfaces on the floor. And that reduces the risk of falls.
5. Always Keep Your Floor Dry
Wet or damp floors in and around the shower present a significant risk of slipping and falling.
Keep the floors clear and dry at all times.
To reduce the amount of water, keep the shower curtain tucked inside the shower edge at all times.
6. Get Rid of Throw Rugs (Yes, Really!)
Rugs or mats with a rubber backing will create non-slip surfaces for the shower.
However, throw rugs and mats may have the opposite effect. Instead of creating a safer space, they become dangerous trip hazards.
Keep your bathroom floor clear of any dangerous obstacles – including rugs. I recommend that you remove or avoid using throw rugs altogether. Why take a chance?
7. Wear Shower Shoes to Improve Traction
Here is an idea you may not have heard before! Wear water shoes in the shower to reduce the chance of a fall.
These special shoes reduce the chance of slipping on wet surfaces with non-slip soles. Shower shoes are a great alternative when it comes to preventing slipping on wet surfaces.
Combine them with the other non-slip measures described above for maximum safety!
8. Use Lots of Bright Lighting
Like I said above, failing eyesight affects us all as we age. So, having the right bathroom and shower lighting is necessary to reduce the chance of an accident.
Install bright lights in the bathroom, especially in the shower area. Also, put the switches in convenient, easy-to-reach places.
Install nightlights to minimize the risk of falls along the hallway leading to your bathroom.
9. Clearly Mark Hot and Cold on Your Faucets
Because of delicate skin and slow reaction times, scalds and burns are more likely among older adults.
To minimize the risk of such injuries, it is important to have clearly labeled hot and cold shower faucets.
Also, check the hot water heater setting. It should not be higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. Sit on a Shower Chair
Don’t have the balance or strength to stand for a full shower? Consider using a shower chair when bathing.
Adding a non-slip shower chair gives you a place to sit and rest when you need it. They also stay stationary and stable even on wet shower surfaces.
11. Only Use a Hand-Held Shower Head
Consider using a hand-held shower handle to your existing faucet for a hassle-free and safer shower for disabled or aging adults.
They are easier to handle and also work better if you are showering from a shower chair.
12. Keep Supplies Available Within Your Reach
Another opportunity for an accident is when you stretch for supplies out of your reach.
To reduce this risk, keep all shower supplies within reach. This includes washcloths, towels, shampoos and conditioners, lotions, and razors, among other toiletries. They should be organized and placed in one easy-to-reach place.
The best place to have these items is in the shower itself. Place bottles on storage racks or shelves in the shower. You can even hand a towel from a towel rack that is out of the water’s path.
All kinds of bathroom accessories are available for seniors to help with this.
13. Do Not Shower If You Are Home Alone
Finally, if you are at a high risk of falling in the shower, never shower if you are home alone.
Have a loved one or professional caregiver close by to help if you need it. That way, someone is available to help you recover from a fall. Or, at least, call 911 or other family members for help.
Keep yourself or your loved one safe in the bathroom by following these shower safety tips for the elderly. Use this information as a checklist to study the safety of your bathroom. Elderly people are more likely to bathe more often when they feel safe.