According to the Los Angeles Times, over 200 thousand accidents happen in the bathroom each year. This statistic includes everyone over the age of 15, but the same report does note that while only 1% of accidents occur in the bathroom, the number more than doubles for those over the age of 65. If you or a loved one is starting to have trouble moving around easily, here are four changes you can make to your bathroom to ensure everyone's safety.
If you don't already have one, consider installing a standalone shower. Eliminating the high step needed to enter a tub will cut down much of the anxiety a daily shower can elicit in someone who has balance issues.
If you already have a shower stall in your bathroom, check the type of door it has. If the door has an older style metal track along the bottom, you might consider replacing it. While those tracks aren't hard to step over, they can cause some pretty severe injuries if someone falls onto them. Look for more modern shower doors with cleaner, smoother lines along the bottom.
Installing handles throughout your bathroom is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to prevent falls. Handles should be screwed into wall studs, for stability and safety, and can be placed both inside and outside the shower or tub. Even if the handles aren't ever used in an emergency, just having something steady to wrap a hand around can prevent someone from becoming disoriented and falling.
Handles can also be installed around the toilet. You can either have these professionally installed, or purchase a simple gadget that fits over your toilet, providing leverage for someone who has a hard time getting to their feet from a seated position.
While the bathmat is often hailed as a safety measure, preventing wet floors in the bathroom, the truth is that they present their own risk. People with limited mobility often trip over all kinds of rugs and mats, simply because they don't lift their feet very high when walking. Walkers, canes, and crutches can easily catch on the edge of a bathmat too, making them more dangerous than they're worth.
Instead, have a pair of slippers waiting outside the shower. Many house shoes are easy to step right into and have non-slip soles. They will also come in handy when standing up from the toilet, gripping the floor and providing more stability as you rise.
While the current modern look is sharp lines and angles, this can be dangerous for anyone who might fall against those angles. If you are doing a full remodel on your bathroom, make sure to pick countertops and sinks with rounded edges. If you have sharp edges already, buy corner protectors at your local home improvement or chain discount store. Make sure they're filled with a shock-absorbing material, such as sponge or foam, for full effectiveness. They're available in a variety of shapes and colors, so don't worry too much about ruining the look of your counter. Besides, your safety is worth it.
Accidents happen, no one can stop them all. But with the proper precautions, you can definitely lessen the risk of them happening to you and your family.