Bathroom 2.0: Alert1 Rates Bathroom Technology for the Modern Senior

Created by Tracy Layden

Each year, 1.6 million older adults seek emergency care for fall-related injuries, according the CDC. The National Institute on Aging reports that 80 percent of falls in seniors over the age of 65 are in the bathroom. It is essential for seniors to create a safe bathroom space. Slippery floors and hard surfaces make the bathroom dangerous for seniors.  Although 85 percent of those taken to the hospital for bathroom falls were treated and released, their injuries resulted in about $67.3 billion in lifetime medical costs, according to the CDC. Many of these falls can be prevented by making the bathroom more accessible.

There has been a boom of new technology that can make the bathroom safer and easier to use than ever. In this article we will discuss products for the bathroom that can help seniors safely age in place and support their caregivers in their care.

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Bath Lifts

bath liftDrive Medical® AquaJoy

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Overview

According to the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, 2.5 million seniors have difficulty bathing. Many older homes have bathtubs instead of showers, and many seniors have difficulty lowering themselves into the bath. Bath lifts allow seniors to enjoy a laid-back bath with a reduced risk of slipping.  

These lifts are controlled by hand-held remotes with easily pushed rocker switches. The user sits on the seat and the chair slowly lowers into the water. Reclining features allow the senior to recline and relax like they would normally. They carefully move you in and out of the bath, eliminating the need to step over the lip of the tub and lower into the water.

How It Helps Caregivers

This device helps seniors keep clean and allows them to enjoy the bathing process and enter the bathtub on their own.  When the senior does not need help in and out of the tub, their caregiver can give them their privacy. This is one less task for the caregiver and the senior will appreciate the independence. 

Market Adoption

Bath lifts are very important for seniors with limited mobility, but not all seniors need that help and not all seniors have bathtubs. This means the market is smaller than some other devices. The price ranges from a couple hundred dollars to $1000 - there is flexibility for those with different price points. They are cheaper and easier to install than replacing the bathtub with a shower. Installation is simple, and does not need to be done by a professional - the majority of bath lifts are held on by strong suction cups. For seniors with a particular set of needs, this product is a must-have. We predict that bath lifts will remain a niche product.

Grab Bars

grab barGrab Bars by Lumex®

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Overview

Grab bars are essential in making a bathroom accessible for seniors. Placed around the room and in particular, in the shower and beside the toilet, they help seniors balance when they feel unsteady. Next to the toilet they assist those who have difficulty sitting or rising from a seated position. In the shower or bathtub they reduce the risk of falls by helping seniors keep their balance while maneuvering into and out of the shower/tub.  

Grab bars are not a new technology, but they now come in a variety of styles for those who need more or less support. They can be placed on any wall where the senior needs more support. For the aesthetic-conscious they come in a variety of finishings to match any bathroom style. These modern updates make the essential grab bar worth noting.

How It Helps Caregivers

Grab bars help seniors feel more secure and reduce their risk of falling. Everyone prefers to have privacy in the bathroom, and when seniors can navigate the bathroom alone it reduces embarrassment and increases feelings of independence and strength.  

Market Adoption

Grab bars are the cheapest accessibility device for the bathroom and the easiest to install. They are already standard in commercial bathrooms. They are an essential part of home accessibility. We predict their use will only increase as the US population ages. 

Smart Showers

smartshowerSmart Shower by Kohler®

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Overview

Seniors are at increased risk of being scalded by hot water. As they age it becomes difficult for their bodies to determine the temperature of the water in their showers and cognitive changes interfere with their ability to react to the dangers. Runyan et al. (2005) reported that burn mortality rates are third only to falls and poisoning for older adults. The American Burn Association has reported that each year, 25,000 individuals are hospitalized for burns. Smart showers not only make showering easier for seniors, but they help prevent these dangerous burn injuries.

Smart showers have preset shower settings that are activated with a single button push. They monitor the water’s temperature, preventing it from getting too hot. They give the user the ability to change the intensity of the water’s spray and the angle of water delivery. For an additional experience, some showers feature music, colored lights, and aromatherapy.

How It Helps Caregivers

Smart showers allow seniors to take hassle-free showers. The experience is easily customized and the shower is easily controlled, even with limited dexterity in their hands. These showers increase independence, create an improved experience, and increase safety.

Market Adoption

Smart showers are currently seen as a luxury product, and are not marketed to seniors. For those with limited mobility in their hands, this product will allow them to operate the shower without assistance. The target market of those who need smart showers the most is a subsection of the senior care market at large. For the rest of the market it remains a product that is nice to have, but is not worth the price and installation difficulty to replace a currently working shower. We predict smart showers will slowly be integrated into newly constructed homes and facilities.

Automatic Toilet

autotoiletAutomatic Toilet Numi by Kohler®

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Overview

Automatic toilets are fully automated and hands off. Sensors open the lid when approached and close it when the user leaves the room. These toilets feature amenities such as advanced bidet and air dryer functionality, heated seat, foot warmer, and music capability. More customization means an overall more pleasant experience. To make everything simpler, the toilet remembers your preferences.

How It Helps Caregivers

Automatic toilets reduce the spread of germs and are good for those with limited mobility due to their hands-free nature. Automatic lid opening and closing keeps unwanted objects out of the toilet and reduces the likelihood of falling in. These toilets help seniors to be less dependent on their caregivers and increase the quality of their bathroom experience.

Market Adoption  

Automatic toilets are not cheap, and they need to be installed by a professional. Though they can be a blessing to the seniors who need them, they are not essential for every senior. Due to the price, installation difficulty, and low importance, we predict automatic toilets will stay a luxury item.