By Bryan Stapp
The bathroom is routinely cited as the most
dangerous room in the house for seniors.
Countless slips and falls occur in the bathroom,
causing a difficult (and sometimes embarrassing)
situation for families.
Because so many falls occur in the bathroom, we
highly encourage our clients and their caregivers to
take a close look at the bathroom for safety issues.
A fresh set of eyes, and a few simple changes, can
make the bathroom a safe and comfortable place for
- Equip showers and surrounding walls with
sturdy grab bars anchored to wall studs so they
can support the full weight of an adult. Some
portable safety handles use super strong suction
cups and are easy to apply and remove.
- A shower chair is also a safe solution that
can be easily placed where balance is a
- Flexible handheld shower wands with an
on/off button might be easier to use than a
traditional shower head. These are especially
useful in combination with shower chairs.
medical alert buttons are sufficiently
waterproof to wear in the shower. Make
sure you always have yours with you as the
shower is the number one source of falls in the
- Replace an unused bathtub with a walk-in
shower. The standard tub/shower unit in so many
homes may be uncomfortably high for the elderly
and disabled to step over, and too low to sit
down into for bathing.
- Check temperature settings on water heaters,
as water hotter than 120 F can scald skin.
Special no-scald faucets or a no-scald regulator
can be installed as a secondary layer of
- Alternatively, provide a spa-like walk-in
tub. Installing a walk-in bathtub or shower
system with a built-in seat brings back a
measure of independence in self-care. Many
walk-in tubs are designed to fit perfectly in
the space of a conventional tub for easy
installation and are now available with
luxurious special features.
- Consider installing nonskid tape or mats on
the floor of a shower or bathtub.
- Make sure bath mats are slip proof and donít
create a tripping hazard.
- Toilets can be replaced with a taller
ADA-approved raised-height models to lessen the
chance of a harsh fall. Alternatively,
raised-height seats can be installed on existing
- Standard toilets have a bowl height of about
15 inches, but many manufacturers have recently
introduced models that are an inch and a half
higher. These taller commodes make sitting down
and getting back up less stressful on the body.
- Keeping an extra medical alert button near
the toilet is a smart idea so they can summon
help right away.
- Some faucet handles are difficult for
arthritic hands to grip and turn. These should
be replaced with an ADA-compliant faucet that is
easier for seniors to use.
- This faucet style also has an adjustable hot
limit safety stop to help reduce scalding.
- This simple and inexpensive alteration will make
washing up more comfortable for elderly parents
and grandparents, and is also a great excuse to
perk up the look of your bathroom.
- Think about accessible storage. Keep bathing
and grooming accessories neatly stowed out of
the way to reduce trips and falls, and to keep
them clear of wheelchairs. Accessibility and
functionality are essential when planning for
convenient storage options in the bathroom.
- Vanities that offer ample storage space
within a smaller footprint can hide hair dryers,
towels, bath products and cleaning supplies,
creating an uncluttered look to make a space
- The top of the toilet tank is valuable
bathroom real estate, either on top of the tank
or with a small cabinet attached to the wall.
- Make it easy on the eyes. High-gloss paints
and tiles can produce an uncomfortable glare, so
introduce matte finishes for better visibility.
Choosing wall and floor colors or patterns that
contrast is another great way to increase visual
perception of space and help older adults feel
more confident as they move about the room.
Bryan Stapp is the President of
Medical Care Alert, a national provider of
medical alert systems based in Northville, Michigan.
Medical Care Alert has won numerous awards for
outstanding customer service, with an A+ Rating from
the Better Business Bureau.
Bathroom for Seniors Safety Infographic