The bathroom can be a hazardous place. The majority of senior falls happen in this small space; per the CDC, about 30 percent of adults over 65 who suffered a fall in the bathroom were either hospitalized or diagnosed with fractures. Whether at home and in assisted living, the risk is the same; providers and family caregivers alike should make every effort to make the bathroom a fall-free zone.
Consider these simple safety tips from the CDC:
- Reduce tripping hazards. Throw rugs and bath mats may give the room a cozy look, but they pose a fall risk, especially if they are not well-secured. A high-pile bath mat that slips around is more hazardous than helpful, especially for someone using a walker, cane or wheelchair, or someone with balance and gait problems.
- Add grab bars. There are several places where grab bars would be best, according to the CDC: inside and outside the shower/tub, and next to the toilet. Make sure the grab bars are of sturdy construction and are installed securely; otherwise, their purpose is defeated.
- Make sure there is adequate lighting. Considering that the individual may need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, a small nightlight that is always on may be helpful. Also, make sure the light switch is easy to find and use. If there are no windows in the bathroom, good lighting is crucial. If there is a window, install curtains or blinds to filter the strong sunlight of morning and mid-day; a harsh glare on already slick surfaces (or the need to squint or shield one’s eyes) can pose a fall risk.
Read more about fall prevention — in the bathroom and elsewhere — here.