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The importance of bathroom safety should never be underestimated. Yes, it’s a room we all use every day. And yes, it’s a room that generally makes us feel like there is never any imminent danger to worry about. But what happens as we age? We naturally experience bouts of diminished strength and balance. Combine being a little less stable on our feet with the slippery surfaces of a bathroom. It can spell trouble! So what safety precautions should be taken?
It’s so important to be able to see where you’re going. For seniors, it’s vital that their pathways are lit. This is especially important at night when they are likely to get out of bed to use the washroom more than once. A brightly lit bathroom will help a person with a vision impairment to observe any potential obstacles on the floor. Not to mention, bright lights will allow a bathroom user to find his/her way around with a much lower risk of bumping into something.
As Jim T. Miller puts it in his advice column on HuffPost.com, good lighting is very important, “so install the highest wattage bulbs allowed for your mom’s bathroom fixtures and get a plug-in nightlight that automatically turns on when the room gets dark.”
Diminished strength can be quite the obstacle. Imagine not quite having the ability to turn on the hot or cold water because the twisting action that is required is too stressful on your joints. Welcome to the realities of many seniors across Canada. To circumvent this problem, you may need to change your faucets to ones that are easier for older adults to manage.
“Faucets that involve a lot of grabbing power and wrist action are a challenge for people with a weak grip,” affirms Plucky Senior Lifestyle Magazine, “They often can’t tackle difficult faucets on their own. The better choice would be installing faucets with a lever handle that can be turned with a simple push. This will require less energy to be exerted for a simple task, and it makes the bathroom safer.”
One of the biggest issues for seniors when using the bathroom is getting up off the toilet. To make it easier for the older adult in your home, you may want to look into raising the height of the toilet he/she most frequently uses. As Miller explains, most toilets are about 14 to 16 inches high which can be an issue for many people with arthritis, back, hip or knee problems.
“To raise the toilet height, which can make sitting down and getting back up a little easier, you can purchase a raised toilet seat that clamps to the toilet bowl and/or purchase toilet safety rails that sit on each side of the seat for support,” he notes, “Or, you can install an ADA compliant toilet that ranges between 17 and 19 inches high.”
At LifeCare Mobility Solutions, we proudly offer a variety of home bathroom modifications to increase the safety of completing basic daily living activities in your home. Modifications can be as simple as changing water faucet handles from knobs to levers or as comprehensive as replacing the shower or bathtub with something more accessible.