Senior-friendly bathroom modifications not only make life easier for older Australians, but they’re also a crucial safety feature.
According to HealthDirect, one in three Australians over 65 has experienced a fall in the past 12 months. While some are relatively benign, others result in severe injury or even death. Most household falls occur in the bathroom, so making a few simple alterations can have a significant impact.
We’ve compiled a list of nine ways to modify your bathroom to make it safer and more convenient for you or your loved ones.
Install Grab Rails
The classic grab rail makes showering and toilet use safer and more accessible for older Australians with mobility issues.
Grab rails provide a sturdy bar to lift yourself up and down, reducing the pressure exerted on your legs and knees. But more importantly, should you feel like you’re about to fall, you can grab onto the rail for balance.
For optimal safety, install a grab rail next to the toilet, inside the shower, and by the bathtub (if you have one).
Lay Non-Slip Mats
Slippery tiles are the most common culprit of a bathroom fall. Laying down a rubber, non-slip mat inside the shower and a dry, non-slip rug on the outside reduces slipperiness to minimise fall risk.
These cost-effective safety solutions are available in most hardware stores and don’t require installation.
Switch to Lever Taps
Traditional turn-style taps can be tricky for people with arthritis or mobility issues to operate. Switching to a lever-style tap makes adjusting the water temperature more manageable as there’s less resistance and the process only requires one hand.
If your budget permits, consider installing lever taps in your bathroom basin and shower.
Use a Sprayer Attachment & Shower Seat
A fixed showerhead requires the user to stand upright during their daily hygiene duties. Although that’s an easy task for the young and spritely, standing for extended periods can become taxing for people with reduced mobility. Consider installing a sprayer attachment, a hand-held showerhead you can comfortably use while sitting down.
Of course, you’ll need somewhere stable to sit as well. Avoid using plastic stools or chairs that could fall over inside the shower. A shower bench or seat securely fastened to the wall is the safest option.
Install a Walk-in Shower or Tub
Many falls occur as the householder trips over the shower door sweep, which is the raised section beneath the door that prevents water from flooding the bathroom floor. A walk-in shower, however, sits flush with the floor, removing this obstacle and eliminating the risk.
Bathtubs also present a significant fall risk and can become tiresome to use as we age. A walk-in tub features a small door that negates the need for the user to lift their legs.
While both these modifications are expensive, many seniors feel they’re a worthy investment.
Raise the Toilet Seat
As seniors find it tiresome to sit down and stand up from a low height, raising your toilet seat can make a tangible difference. Most standard toilet seats in Australia sit between 42 and 46 cm from the floor. The ideal height for the elderly, however, is somewhere between 50 and 55 cm.
The good news is you don’t have to go out and purchase a pricey new toilet. Extra thick, senior-friendly toilet seats let you prop up the height by about 10 cm—and they’re super easy to install.
Remove Sharp Edges
Sharp corners and edges can bruise frail old limbs. When shopping around for fittings and fixtures, always aim for products with smooth rounded edges.
Ensure they’re made from rigid, durable materials that won’t require maintenance and are easy to clean. Remember, the elderly have a much tougher time doing ordinary household maintenance than younger adults.
A messy bathroom makes it harder to locate and retrieve your everyday essentials. Store rarely-used items well out of the way—or get rid of them entirely—to make room on the vanity for essential toiletries.
Ensure commonly used items like medications, lotions, toothbrushes, and toothpaste are always within easy reach.
Use Slid-Out Draws
Rummaging through an outward-opening cabinet is tiresome for the elderly, especially when a low-set cabinet requires bending down. Slide-out draws, on the other hand, provide easy access and let you rapidly locate what you need.
Avoid using small circular handles that frail hands may find difficult to grasp. Opt for long, easy-to-grip cabinetry handles instead.
Install Large Switches
Tiny light switches can be challenging to operate when you’ve got limited mobility in your hands. Switching to large light switches makes life easier for the elderly. The same concept applies everywhere in the house.
Furthermore, ensure your bathroom is adequately lit, as dim lighting increases the risk of falls. The quickest way to do so is to replace dull globes with more powerful alternatives—or switch to LEDs.
Boasting over 94 years of combined lift industry experience, Axis Lifts is one of Queensland’s leading elevator specialists.
We endeavour to make life safer and more comfortable for older Australians by providing reliable, high-quality residential lifts. With more fully-trained on-call technicians than any other competing company, we offer responsive around-the-clock support you can rely on.
For more mobility solutions contact the team at Axis Lifts today.