Bathroom Safety for Older Adults
How to Make Your Bathroom Safer
Many elder accidents occur in the bathroom. If an older adult is going to live with you, it's essential to set up -- or in some cases remodel -- your bathroom to make it safe and comfortable for her.
General bathroom safety
Bathroom door If the person you're caring for uses a walker or wheelchair, the door needs to be at least 32 inches wide. (If she doesn't use such a device yet but you're remodeling, consider a wide door in case she does later.)
Doorknob A conventional doorknob can be difficult for older adults with arthritis or poor hand strength to grasp and turn. If that's an issue, replace the knob with a lever or push-button device for easy opening.
Bathroom floor The floor should have a nonslip surface, as should standing areas in the bathtub or shower. Either remove throw rugs or place antislip mats under them.
Taps All hot water outlets in sinks, showers, and tubs should have antiscald devices (sometimes called thermostatic mixing valves) installed to prevent burns. As an alternative, you could lower the thermostat on the hot water heater to 110 to 120 degrees Farenheit; however, be aware that legionella bacteria can grow at temperatures below 140 degrees.
Emergency alerts Install an emergency buzzer or phone accessible from the tub, toilet, or shower so that she can alert the household or others if she needs immediate help. It may not be possible for her to get help simply by calling out, especially if she has a frail voice and the bathroom is removed from other living quarters.
Lock Install a lock that can be opened from the outside even while locked from the inside. If a person falls or becomes unconscious while inside a locked bathroom, you need to get in quickly.