7 bathroom safety tips for seniors

Bathroom safety is critical for aging seniors. As reported in the New York Times, more than 235,000 emergency room visits can be attributed to bathroom accidents each year. And injury rates increase rapidly for people over 75.

Follow these tips for bathroom fall prevention:

1. Add grab bars
Bathroom grab bars can help an older person or those with physical limitations lift or lower themselves from the tub or toilet. Install these securely by anchoring them to the studs in your walls.

2. Raise the toilet seat
For those experiencing mobility issues, a raised toilet seat can make it easier to use the bathroom. Raised seats with built-in arms provide additional leverage.

3. Improve lighting
Many people need to use the bathroom throughout the night. Install nightlights in the bathroom and adjacent hallway to ensure seniors can see their way around.

4. Lower barriers
Replace traditional tubs with a walk-in shower or tub. Walk-in tubs allow users to enter the bath via a door, without having to lift their legs over a high threshold.

5. Use a chair
For those with balance or dizziness issues, a plastic chair with non-skid legs may be an appreciated addition to the shower.

6. Prevent slips
No-slip bathmats and tub decals are a recommended safety tool for people of any age. But these become particularly important as we age and become less steady on our feet.

7. Accommodate visiting seniors
If you have older relatives who visit regularly, consider purchasing toilet safety rails. Some systems screw into the wall, but portable models are available so you can fold and hide the rails away after a visit.

Visit a home medical store to learn about other bathroom safety aides. Your local charity shops also may have donated equipment in stock. Or, look for home modification programs in your area.