A bathroom is meant to be relaxing a space where daily tasks are done in a routine that’s simple and effective. However, for the elderly in your life, this space could be causing anxiety and difficulty in doing tasks that they once found to be easy and merely a second thought. To seniors, the bathroom could very well be a dangerous place.
Renovating or making improvements to the bathrooms of seniors, especially those that live alone is essential to their safety. Help them feel safer, be less worried and regain a sense of normalcy in doing day-to-day tasks such as going to the toilet, taking a shower and even brushing their teeth.
The goal with any home improvement is to make life easier. Make sure to keep in mind the natural and possible obstacles that seniors face, especially in a room with hard tiles that are often wet. The following 7 bathroom improvements are everyday accident prevention solutions that provide both you and your senior peace of mind.
7 Senior Citizen’s Bathroom Improvements
1. Non-Slip Mat
Wet floors are the biggest hazards in any bathroom to anyone, but especially to seniors who find it hard to steady their footing.
Non-slip mats are essential for that reason, allowing seniors to comfortably and confidently navigate the bathroom without the risk of falling. This bathroom improvement is both affordable and requires no installation.
The key is to place these non-slip mats where water gets on the floor most, such as the shower, toilet and sink area. To minimize the risk of falling in the shower even further, place one non-slip mat in the shower and another right outside the bathroom door.
2. Grip Handles / Handrails
Grip handles are another great affordable option to help seniors steady themselves while they get around inside the bathroom. These require some professional installation as they have to be screwed into the walls or floors depending on where they are placed.
Similar to non-slip mats, you want to install grip handles in places where it would be hard for seniors to navigate without support to move in or out, up or down. For example, the shower area to help balance themselves going in and out, and by the toilet, so they can bend down to sit without losing balance.
3. Bathroom Organisers
Clutter on the counter or in the shower or bathtub area is hazardous. Keeping everything simple and organized means seniors don’t have to look around or bend or stretch out for things as that can be physically difficult for them.
The key to keeping things organized in a seniors’ bathroom is to keep things as simple and easy to reach as possible. Keep their most-used items in the shower like body washes and shampoos at eye level and face wash, toothbrushes and toothpaste on the sink’s counter in a sturdy organizer.
Dispensers are a great option for shower areas that might feel too cluttered with a caddy. You can refill the dispensers easily with their favourite soap, shampoo and conditioner. Make sure to mount it on the wall where it’s accessible.
4. Senior Friendly Faucets
Seniors face a number of obstacles that were once easy to do, like turning on the sink’s tap by twisting a faucet. However now, twisting open anything can be difficult, especially for those losing their strength in grip, or are diagnosed with arthritis.
Senior-friendly faucets are mainly those that are push-up and push down ones. These are lever faucets, much easier to use and can make the biggest difference in making a daily task a pleasant one. Change out the old sink and shower faucets for these types to make things easier for seniors.
5. Shower Screens
Shower screens are a much better option to keep wet floors in one area of the bathroom, which is the shower area. Shower curtains can get tangled and block out necessary light, so they aren’t the safest option for a senior’s bathroom.
You will want to opt for a plastic, or even a tempered or even reinforced glass screen as prevention against shattering if your senior were to fall onto it. Shower screens also provide some stability, as glass doors can gripe when entering and exiting the shower.
6. Extra Lighting
When making improvements to anyone’s bathroom, adding good lighting to brighten up the room’s every corner is essential. Senior bathrooms need as much light as possible without being blinding.
Good lighting will help them to see and navigate their way. Poor lighting, especially at night, is a major contributor to falls, so consider installing motion sensor lights to make it easier for seniors. More than one light source is required in a bathroom, there should be several placed by the sink, toilet and in the shower.
In case a fall does occur, the door could be the biggest and most obvious obstruction to getting into the bathroom and to help a senior that has fallen onto the door, and is unable to get back up.
The simplest solution to this possible problem is to have the door open forward instead of into the bathroom. This can be done by rehanging the doors. For this, you may need to hire handyman services to get done
Renovation Tips: Senior Citizen’s Bathrooms
Now that you know what to add and improve upon in a senior’s bathroom, it’s best to keep these tips in mind if you’re planning to renovate their bathroom.
Go with textured tiles for the bathroom floor instead of smooth and polished ones. Textured tiles provide the necessary grip to help seniors keep steady when walking and avoid falls. Consider either stone, mosaic, limestone, or granite tiles for the bathroom as they are good options for durable flooring when wet.
A New Toilet
Many Malaysian homes still have squat toilets, and these can be dangerous for seniors. Bending down can be difficult for them and can even cause them to lose balance and fall. A seated toilet is the best option for seniors, and you can even get them to raise to make it easier for them.
A great way to unclutter the shower area is to build alcoves but keep in mind accessibility. Make sure it is built at a reachable height, and stores all the necessary products with space for more if necessary.
When making any of these bathroom improvements to a seniors bathroom remember the goal is to make the everyday tasks of using the bathroom easy all while avoiding all possibilities of an accident occurring. Seniors don’t have much flexibility or strength, and something as simple as using the toilet or brushing their teeth can be hard.
However, the bathroom improvements from the non-slip mats to rehanging the door are all safety measures that will not only enable seniors to be independent but also provide both you and them peace of mind.
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