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Bathroom Safety for Your Aging Parent

Posted by Dr. Shirley Newell
Date:

Bathroom Falls and Safety

As your parent ages, there are tasks you may take for granted that they now struggle with or are hazardous to their health. One area to pay close attention to is their safety in the bathroom—you may be unaware of their challenges behind closed doors. In an effort to stay as independent as possible, your parent may be embarrassed to ask for help when it comes to personal hygiene or using the toilet. Slippery floors and an unsteady gait can be a recipe for a dangerous fall. Your parent may not realize their own limits and risk their safety. Here are few helpful tips to make their bathroom safer:

Grab bars. If your parent is unsteady on their feet, a simple solution is to install grab bars in the shower, near the toilet, or in easy-to-reach places where needed. A grab bar can help them sit, stand, and maintain their balance. Also, they may have a tendency to hold onto the towel racks for stability, so make sure these are secure but encourage them to use the grab bars to hold their body weight.

Clean floors. Do not leave towels on the floor, loose area rugs or bath mats, or any clutter that can be a trip hazard. A hamper can collect dirty towels and rubber bath mats won’t move.

Offer to help. You parent may feel unsafe while showering or bathing, so offer to help or be on hand if they need assistance—especially getting in and out of the shower. Their pride may stand in the way of their safety. You may have to be the first to bring up the topic.

Non-skid. Showers with shampoo and soap can be slippery for anyone but particularly hazardous to seniors with balance issues. To prevent falls in the shower, place a non-skid rubber mat in the bottom of the shower.

Slippers. If you parent is taking a bath or shower, they may remove their clothing and shoes before entering the bathroom. It is not safe for the elderly to walk around barefoot. Provide them with comfortable, well-fitting slippers with rubber soles so they do not slip.

Nightlights. Your parent may wake up in the night to use the bathroom, sometimes even multiple times throughout the night. A nightlight can illuminate their pathway to the bathroom and within the bathroom.

Taller toilet. Low toilets can be difficult for your parent to sit down on and stand up from, so consider installing a tall toilet.

Shower chair. A shower chair is a simple addition to make the shower more accessible to your parent and to prevent falls. This is helpful if your parent does not have good balance or does not have the strength to stand for long periods of time.

Bathroom door. Make sure that the door to their bathroom swings outward. If your parent was to fall against the door, you or medical personnel would be unable to open the door. This is a simple change allows access to your parent at all times in case of an emergency.

At Aegis Living, we care about the safety and health of your family members. If you have additional questions about the safety of your parent we would be happy to help.