The CDC states that each year, one in four Americans 65 and older experiences a fall, the leading cause of injury among older adults, and impaired vision more than doubles this risk. Falls often result in serious injuries, decreased mobility, and loss of independence. According to Caregiver, the bathroom is routinely cited as the most dangerous room in the house for seniors. Countless slips and falls occur in the bathroom, causing a difficult (and sometimes embarrassing) situation for families. This blog will look at a few simple measures that can be taken to help ensure your bathroom keeps your loved ones from becoming another of these statistics.
Bathroom Aids for the Toilet and Bathtub or Shower
Feeling confident while using the toilet and/or bathing yourself goes a long way towards safety and independence. ILA offers several products to help make this a reality.
Stander Curve Grab Bar: The Curve Grab Bar is a space saving support rail that allows the user to easily rise from a sitting position by providing 4 hand grips at 4 different heights. This pivoting grab bar locks in place every 45 degrees and can also be locked flat against the wall when the bar is not in use. Made of rust resistant, zinc plated steel, it installs quickly into two wall studs.
Vertical Bath Bar: Bar extends 14″ above tub edge to provide extra stability when getting in & out of tub. Made of steel construction with vinyl coating and protective rubber cushions. Product fits tub walls up to 6″ wide and secures to tub in minutes.
CombiAttendant with Footrest: Standard Combi Shower, Commode, and Indoor Transit Chair. The mobile Combi commode/shower chair is an assistive device allowing the user to sit down safely and comfortably during toileting or showering. It is supplied complete with toilet rails and can be used freestanding, with an optional bucket, or positioned over a toilet. Easy to move and maneuver in different settings and locations.
Decluttering and Using and Labels
One way to lessen the risk of falling is to keep the bathroom as clutter free as possible. Using totes, cabinets, and shelving goes a long way towards keeping things up and away from being a hazard. Labeling items using high contrast lettering, braille labeling, and having products in easy to use pump bottles makes finding what you need both easy and convenient. ILA offers several products that can be beneficial with keeping things easily accessible.
Low Vision Pens Sampler: If you know that you need a pen that creates a black, bold, heavy line that is easy to see, but you can’t decide which one to buy, order this sampler. It lets you test 4 pens with different thicknesses and drying characteristics. Included are: CAN-DO Low Vision, Sharpie, Pilot Bravo, and Liquid Expresso.
Braillable Labels: These ingenious little transparent hard plastic labels have room to Braille three lines. Each non-adhesive label has a hole in each end for the black elastic band peg to push through so that the label can be stretched around whatever you are marking. 50 labels and 50 elastic bands in a pack. Each label measures 4.75 inches by 1.5 inches.
WayClip Plastic Clips with tag: Use a clip tag with a rubber band or a hairband to attach a tag to all the bottles and vials in your bathroom(s). The WayAround product line is a combination of smartphone app and physical WayTags™ that allows you to tag and label nearly everything in your environment. Download the free app for either iPhone or Android onto your own smartphone. WayAround works with the accessibility settings on your phone. To hear your information spoken aloud, turn on VoiceOver or TalkBack.
Flooring, Lighting and Contrast
In addition to keeping the floor as clutter free as possible your choice of tile, rugs, and tub or shower liner are also key to preventing falls and accidents in the bathroom. Things to think about when choosing these type items are contrast in color with the things around it, nonskid bottom, and flooring or tile with texture. Smooth flooring is just asking for trouble when you add water into the mix.
Lighting is also an important safety feature to keep in mind. It may be necessary to have several different types of lights in various places in the bathroom. It might be beneficial to install extra lighting around the tub or shower. Having a light above the mirror also enables someone with vision issues to be better able to see things in and around the sink and counter. A lighted mirror by the sink could provide assistance with shaving or applying makeup. To learn more about lighting check out our previous previous blogs.
Contrast is something simple to consider but often times overlooked. The way colors and shapes work within the whole room can help deter potential fall risks. Examples of using contrast to your advantage is by having hand towels a different color from wash cloths or bath towels. In addition, the towels should contrast with both the wall and floor coloring to help with locating them when either hanging up or fallen on the floor. Using a different colored toilet seat could help separate it from the colors around it. Using dark colored or striped toothpaste can help ensure you squeeze out just the right amount onto your toothbrush. If more than one person uses the bathroom you can also use different colored totes and/or different shaped containers to help keep personal items separated.