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All You Need Is…A Safe Bathroom: The Beatles Senior Guide

the beatles waving

Making your household safe is essential for staying comfortable in your home as long as possible.  Bathroom accessibility and safety is an especially important factor of successful aging in place. The bathroom is where the majority of falls happen for senior citizens, and it is the major culprit for bone-breaking falls. Each year around one in three seniors over 65 experience a fall. 80% of these falls happen in the bathroom, as reported by The National Institute on Aging.

You are in and out of your bathroom all day. You use it when you are groggy in the mornings and when you are half asleep at night. The bathroom is particularly dangerous because of its unforgiving surfaces; tile, porcelain, cast iron, marble, and granite do not cushion falls.

As you age, your risk for falling increases. As The Beatles put it, “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay.” You may slip stepping out of the shower. Your balance may be thrown off when you close your eyes to wash out some shampoo. Or a leak may spring from the plumbing on your sink, causing damage to both your home and your safety. Aging can make everyday tasks just a little bit harder. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Start your aging in place plan by making your bathroom safe with some simple renovations. 

With a little help from my friends…

senior hand holding
  • Grab bars. Many senior citizens admit to using their towel racks as a grab bar, but this is not a safe option. Towel bars are not meant for this. They can become loose and not support your weight. Install a proper grab bar next to the shower to make getting in and out of the shower easy. Add a grab bar next to the toilet while you’re at it.
  • Tension poles. Don’t have wall space for a grab bar? A tension pole runs from the ceiling to the ground right outside the shower. This will give you something to hold on to as you get out of the shower and gives support in places that grab bars cannot be installed.
  • Shower seats. Showering should be relaxing. Take a break on a shower seat and let your worries wash away. If you have a bathtub, there are inexpensive transfer benches that you can sit on to get in and out instead of climbing over the side.
  • Elevated toilet seats. As we get older, the toilet seat can seem farther and farther away. Use a raised seat or invest in a platform that lifts the whole toilet. Your bathroom should be a place of sanctuary, not a thigh workout!

Don’t Let me Down…

happy couple nuzzling
  • Winged faucet handles. These handles are easy to push or pull, especially if you have arthritis or other fine motor disabilities. This goes for door handles as well – levers are better than round doorknobs.
  • Anti-scald shower valves. As we get older, it becomes more difficult for our bodies to gauge temperature. This shower valve prevents the water from getting too hot.
  • Plentiful lighting. Many falls happen around the home because there is not adequate lighting. Install nightlights that automatically turn on when you walk in the room. No more stubbed toes!

When I’m Sixty-Four…

toothless smiling
  • No-slip mats in the shower. These mats will keep you from slipping on the slick tile while you are getting in and out of the shower.
  • Clear floors. Remove scattered rugs and anything else you could trip over from the bathroom floor. You want to be able to walk around without dodging dirty laundry.
  • Toiletries within reach. You do not want to be straining to reach a bottle of shampoo on a wet surface. Pick up a shower caddy to keep everything in one place.

Here Comes the…

happy senior couple

If you plan on remodeling your bathroom or are looking to do more major renovations consider these changes to enhance your bathroom experience.

  • Curbless shower. With no ledge to step over, you can just walk in and enjoy. Make your shower is flush with the ground so there is nothing to trip over.
  • Walk-in bath. There are many options for accessible bathtubs. With many designs the side door opens and you can walk right in. Close the water tight door and you are ready to go.
  • Roll in shower. This set up is extremely helpful for individuals in wheelchairs. With a roll in shower there is no threshold between the shower and the bathroom floor providing easy access for wheelchairs. Add a collapsible shower dam or a weighted shower curtain to keep the water in.
  • Wide doorways. If you are renovating, widening the doorways will make your whole bathroom feel bigger. Doorways at least three feet wide will ensure the bathroom is wheelchair accessible while feeling luxurious.

The Long and Winding Road

Making your bathroom accessible is a main factor for aging in place comfortably. As The Beatles wisely said, “as we live a life of ease, every one of us has all we need.” As your needs change, your house needs to change along with you to continue living a life of ease. Keep your surroundings safe and enjoy your golden years like you deserve.