If you hope to live safely and comfortably in your home during your senior years, it may require making a few modifications around the house.
One room that definitely needs attention is your bathroom. The water and movement involved in bathing, showering, grooming yourself, and other bathroom-related activities create precarious situations on a regular basis. To help protect yourself or your loved against the risk of slipping and falling, it’s prudent to consider installing a few key bathroom accessories.
Improving Bathroom Safety for Elderly in Seattle
If your aging parent wants to continue living independently at their home, then you must consider what risks that may involve and how to effectively mitigate them. For example, falling is the leading cause of fatal injuries in people aged 65 and older, according to the National Council on Aging. About one in four seniors fall each year, and it is the most common reason for emergency room visits among that demographic.
The best way to decrease the risk of falling and being seriously injured while in the bathroom is to install bathroom grab bars for elderly throughout the space. Here is how to get started remodeling and safeguarding a bathroom for your or your loved one:
1. Add Shower Rails for Elderly
While shower rails are not only designed for seniors, they’re of certain benefit to that demographic. Think about installing a vertical entrance bar close to the shower door jamb. Another horizontal bar should be placed on the wall, about 3 feet above the shower floor. Lastly, add a second vertical bar on the wall with the faucet, near the handles. It’s also a good idea to retrofit the shower with a bench or seating device of some sort. In the future, if you get dizzy, weak, or faint while you’re showering, it gives you an accessible place to quickly sit down before you potentially fall to the ground.
2. Bathtub Bars for Elderly
In the case of the bathtub bars, two are better than one. Any tub your parent uses on a frequent basis should have two handrails—one that can be reached from a sitting position and another for when they’re standing. It’s also a good idea to have a third handrail or grip outside the tub that they can use while getting in and out.
3. Hand Rails for the Commode Area
Using the toilet also involves sitting and standing, and potentially transferring from a wheelchair to the toilet, so that’s another bathroom area that should be given some attention. Symptoms like dizziness or faintness can come without warning, especially if you are feeling ill or having a reaction to a medication. The best solution is to install a rail or grab bar on each side of the commode area. The bar on the side wall closest to the toilet is useful for the person ascending, descending or moving from their wheelchair to use the toilet, while the grab bar behind the toilet provides support for a caregiver who is helping the person sit or stand.
Safeguarding Other Household Spaces for Seniors
Once the most dangerous room is covered, take a tour around your parent’s house and look for other areas where a fall might be prevented by a handrail. If there are stairs, a handrail should extend past the bottom step a few inches so it’s easily reached. Original handrails might not be strong enough, so pull them with all your weight—as if you were stumbling and grabbing onto them for support—and make sure they’re sturdy and well-secured.
If your parents still drive, consider putting a handrail in the garage close to where they park the car so they can use it for getting safely in and out of the vehicle.
Guidelines for Grab Bar Installation
Keep in mind that proper installation is vital to providing you and your parent peace of mind, as well as comfort when moving about your bathroom, or home in general. Reviewing ADA guidelines and standards is a good place to start. While you are not required to follow them precisely in your private home, they were designed by experts with older folks in mind, so they can provide some helpful guidance. According to ADA standards, grab bars should:
- Be about 1¼ inches in diameter for the most optimal grip.
- Have at least 1½ inches of space between the rail and your wall to provide ample space for you to get a firm grip on the device.
- Be installed horizontally or at a slight angle, with between 33 inches and 3 feet (maximum) from the finished floor to the top of the gripping surface. This is based on the average height, but you can also tweak it if your loved one is exceptionally shorter or taller than average.
Additionally, grab bars should not be placed within a foot of projecting objects, so there is nothing in the way of swiftly grabbing hold of the bar if you’ve lost your balance or you slip. They also must be secured and should not rotate within their fittings. Place them in areas where the wall is reinforced.
Some style choices to consider based on physical needs and aesthetic preferences include designer curved grab bars; zig zag safety bars with multi-level rails; swing-up grab bars for toilets without a wall directly beside them; and crescent and wave grab bars that look stylish but are still safe.
A Safe Home for Seniors in West Seattle
For an elderly person, a fall can result in worse than minor scrapes and bruises. A broken hip or dislocated shoulder can mean months of recuperation and rehab, and it may prompt the end of their independence. If your senior parent is already prone to falling, it might be time to talk to them about moving to a safer place, such as an assisted living community in West Seattle. Our assisted living housing at Daystar Retirement Village is designed with older adults in mind, so each unit is equipped with the features and accessories to increase your safety and security while you focus on enjoying the next chapter of your life.
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