Aging in Place: Bathrooms
By John Voket
Many of us plan to grow old in our homes, also known as "aging in place," and some of us have family members currently doing just that. So how can you make sure your home stays safe as you age? Let's look at one room that is home to a large majority of slips and falls: the bathroom.
"Bathrooms can be very dangerous for people who have difficulties with mobility," says Ted Puzio, owner of Southern Trust Home Services. "Luckily, there are steps you can take as a homeowner to make them safer for your friends and family members."
Puzio suggests the following adjustments for those wanting to increase the safety of their home restrooms:
Consider installing a walk-in shower. By removing any hurdles your loved one might have to step over in order to bathe, you significantly reduce the risk of throwing them off balance.
Equip showers and surrounding walls with sturdy grab bars. Giving seniors something to hold on to while they bathe can help them maintain their center of gravity, making a fall less likely. You may even want to consider adding a shower chair as well.
Install faucets that are easy for seniors to turn. Struggling with a faucet can also lead to seniors getting thrown off balance. Consider faucets that are easy to use, like a lever faucet.
Invest in handheld shower wands instead of an anchored showerhead. Handheld shower wands are flexible and never require reaching or straining in order to make adjustments. Try to find one with a convenient on/off button so your loved one can easily use it from a single position.
Consider raised-height toilet models. There are lots of ADA-approved toilet options that will lessen the chance of a harsh fall. Try to find one that's a comfortable height for the senior members of your household.