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6 Ways to Make Your Retirement Home Bathrooms Senior-Friendly

As we get older, it’s more difficult to complete tasks, such as showering and using the toilet. Here’s where retirement home bathrooms help. 

Not only are these tasks more difficult, but older people are also more prone to falls. This is especially true in the bathroom, where surfaces can become slippery. Luckily, there are a number of things that can be done to help make bathrooms safer, more convenient, and more comfortable for the elderly. 

In this article, we’ll go over the main things that you can do to make your senior citizens feel safer and more comfortable when using the bathroom. We’ll also provide some additional tips on things that will maximize the safety of residents within a retirement home. The following list of tips could help to prevent unnecessary harm to elderly residents and will help them to maintain their independence. 

Add Toilet Safety Rails

There are several things that you can do to a bathroom to make it safer for senior citizens. Some examples include installing a walk-in tub, adding safety rails, adding non-slip mats, and keeping all storage within reach. 

Toilet safety rails are put in place to provide support to a person when they’re using the toilet. These are one of the most important things that you can add to a bathroom to make it more suitable for seniors. Toilet rails tend to come in a variety of different styles.

Below is some information on the main styles of toilet rails:

  • Legless Toilet Rails – Legless toilet rails rest completely on top of your toilet bowl. These tend to be easy to install and usually consist of one or two rails to help support the person as they use the toilet. 
  • Toilet Rails Attached to Toilet – These types of toilet rails extend out from the toilet and down to the floor. They tend to be quite stable as the weight is extended down to the floor. It’s usually attached between the bolts that hold your toilet seat in place. Models can differ as some will extend to around the center of the toilet bowl and down to the floor, and others may extend further than the toilet bowl and then down to the floor. 
  • Toilet Riser with Handles – This type of toilet rail enhances the height of the seat, which makes it easier for elderly people to stand up from the toilet. The added handles provide some leverage which can be used to push up from the toilet bowl and into a standing position. Some models are designed to place underneath the toilet seat and others are designed to be used as a toilet seat itself.  
  • Free-Standing Toilet Rails – Freestanding toilet rail frames rest around the toilet and don’t require any installation. Some models can be easily folded up for storage. These aren’t the best model for smaller bathrooms as they can affect a person’s ability to move freely around the bathroom as the rail can get in the way. This is especially problematic for those who use walkers or a wheelchair. 
  • Flip Grab Bars – Flip-up grab bars are great as they can be flipped up out of the way when they’re not in use, proving more room in the bathroom. They are simple and easy to flip down when you need them. If there is not a side wall close enough to the toilet for a side wall rail, these flip rails make a great alternative. They are also helpful for those who use wheelchairs as they can be flipped out of the way easily. 
  • Pivoting Toilet Rails – Pivoting rail bars tend to be mounted to the wall and swing out to provide a versatile rail support. These rails provide many different handholds at all different heights to suit your needs. Most models include stationary vertical and horizontal grab bars, plus an additional curved bar that can be swung around and locked in place at various positions. 
  • Wall to Floor Grab Bars – This type of rail attaches to the floor and the wall. It’s an L-shaped rail that bends at a 90-degree angle and extends to the floor below. They are set at a fixed height, so it’s important to ensure that the height meets the individual’s requirements before this type of rail is installed. 

Install a Walk-In Tub

Walk-in tubs are a safe option for seniors who may be prone to slipping or falling when stepping into a traditional bathtub. This type of bathtub has a door or multiple doors which you can open and close when entering or exiting the tub. 

The doors on a walk-in bathtub prevent the need for having to lift your legs over the edge of the tub when you get in and out of the bath. This, therefore, reduces any risks of falling when entering or exiting the bathtub. 

A safety door is not the only benefit that comes with a walk-in bathtub. Many models are installed with seating inside the tub, handrails, and adjustable bubble jets. These bathtubs can be quite expensive but have been proven to be a lot safer than traditional bathtubs for older citizens. 

The seat within a walk-in bathtub can be very beneficial as this usually provides a secure place for the individual to sit while bathing. It allows them to sit easily in an upright position and prevents them from accidentally slipping below the surface of the water. 

Install a Good Quality Shower Bench

Many elderly citizens find it hard to stay standing or remain balanced for long periods of time. This is why shower benches are extremely beneficial when it comes to supporting seniors. A good-quality shower bench will allow you to sit and rest easily and comfortably while you shower. 

Most shower bench manufacturers install the shower bench with stability and ease in mind. Some models will come with suction cups, height adjustment options, and handrails to make them even more sturdy and user-friendly. 

Some things you’ll need to consider when choosing a shower bench include the following:

  • Check the weight capacity of the bench to ensure it can accommodate the individual
  • Check the size of the shower bench to make sure it will fit in the shower area and that the shower will reach the bench easily
  • Check the size of the shower bench to make sure it’s not too big for the bathroom that you’re installing it in

Keep Storage Within Reach

In a senior-designed bathroom, all storage should be within reach. It’s difficult for seniors to stretch, bend, and maneuver around things, so this should be kept in mind when thinking about storing items in the bathroom. 

One of the best ways to ensure everything is in reach is to install a shower caddy. These are best mounted on the wall at an appropriate height so that everything is within easy reach of the individual in question. 

Another great idea is to install dispensers for various things such as soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste to make it easier for the individual to reach and use the products they need. This also prevents issues such as the bottles or packaging slipping out of the individual’s hand while they’re using it. 

Since these dispensers will be installed at an appropriate and easy-to-reach height, the elderly resident will easily and conveniently be able to re-fill these dispensers themselves. 

Add Non-Slip Mats

The most common bathroom accidents for seniors are slips and falls. These mostly occur when the individual is getting in and out of the tub or shower as this area tends to be quite slippery. This is where a non-slip mat comes in great as this can prevent slips and falls. 

The best places for non-slip mats are at the entrance of the bathroom, around the toilet, and next to the bathtub and shower. The most important places for non-slip mats are in front of the entrance and exit points of the shower and bathtub. Waterproof non-slip mats can also be placed inside the shower area or bath to prevent slips and falls when washing. 

If you’re completely remodeling the bathroom, you may also want to consider installing non-slip tiles. These can be installed just in the shower area or can even be installed in the entire bathroom. They tend to feature a non-slip coating that guarantees safety when stepped on. 

Alternatively, you could opt for non-slip adhesives that can be stuck onto the tiles. These most commonly tend to be added to the basin, bath and shower edges to prevent hands and feet from slipping. 

Consider Lighting and Colors

Many homeowners consider overhead lighting to be the best option for lighting up a bathroom. However, this type of lighting can cause problems for elderly citizens. Overhead lighting can cause shadows and this results in some areas being illuminated and some areas failing to be illuminated. 

When it comes to senior bathrooms, you want to try to avoid overhead lighting where possible. It’s a much better idea to add multiple lights around the bathroom to ensure all of the different areas of the bathroom achieve good lighting. 

Additionally, it’s important to think about appropriate colors when decorating a bathroom to accommodate seniors. You should opt for matte colors and avoid high-gloss finishes as these can cause light glare which may be confusing for the elderly. You may also want to think about choosing different colors to highlight different areas of the bathroom so that it’s easier for the individual to distinguish between each different part. 

Additional Tips to Create a Safer Bathroom for Seniors

We have just explained six of the best ways that you can make your retirement home bathrooms more senior-friendly. However, there are some additional things that you can do to make them even more safe and accommodating for elderly individuals. 

The list below highlights some additional steps that you can take to make your senior bathrooms even more friendly, safe and accommodating:

  • Add an emergency phone – An emergency phone means that the elderly person will be able to get through to someone quickly if they have a fall or slip, or if they need any further assistance in the bathroom. The emergency phone will need to be easily accessible and should be completely waterproof for safety. 
  • Clearly mark hot and cold taps – Many elderly citizens have problems with their vision and this can make it harder for them to distinguish between different things. With this in mind, you should aim to make your hot and cold taps as easy to identify as possible. Ensure that they are labelled and that the handles can be distinguished easily. 
  • Provide plenty of space – Senior citizens tend to struggle with mobility. Many will require the use of wheelchairs or walkers for assistance. With this in mind, it’s important that the bathroom has plenty of space for the individual to move around freely. A cramped bathroom could cause more harm than good. 
  • Raise the toilet seat – Raising the toilet seat involves increasing the height of the seat so that it’s at a more accommodating level. This makes it much easier for a senior to sit down and stand up from the toilet. A raised toilet ensures that the individual’s knees remain as straight as possible and helps them to remain stable. Therefore, this helps to reduce any risks of falling or slipping when using the toilet. 
  • Install various grab bars – We have gone over how beneficial toilet grab rails are, but these rails also work great in other areas of the bathroom. Think about adding one near the entrance, around the toilet, close to the sink or washbasin, and around the bath or shower. Senior citizens tend to struggle with balance, so it’s important to give them something to grab onto if they lose their balance and to help them easily make their way around the bathroom. 
  • Add handheld showerheads – A removable, handheld showerhead allows the user to rinse themselves easily while in a seated position. The individual will also be able to control the flow of the water from the showerhead. A showerhead can be added as an addition to a fixed showerhead or can be used on its own.  

Inspecting a Senior Bathroom for Safety

It’s very important to regularly perform checks on senior bathrooms to ensure they remain safe for the resident and to make sure there are no potential hazards. Without these checks, there could be damage or hazards that can make the bathroom unsafe for a senior citizen. 

The list below highlights a number of things that will need to be done regularly to ensure the senior bathroom is still safe:

  • Check over all of the grab bars and make sure they are securely fastened to the wall or floor
  • Inspect the light bulbs and make sure they are all working properly so that the entire bathroom is lit up evenly
  • If tub or shower mats are used, ensure these are fitted securely and aren’t bunched up or ripped at all
  • Check all of the fixtures for any leaks and also check the pipework to prevent any water from leaking out and making the floor slippery
  • Ensure that all rugs or mats are securely fitted to the floor
  • Check the taps and shower to ensure they are all working correctly
  • If the bathroom features a raised toilet seat, ensure that this is fitted correctly and that it hasn’t come loose
  • Make sure there is no clutter around the room and that everything is stored within reach

As the bathroom is used, fixtures and fittings may become loose or may crack or break. With this in mind, it’s very important to keep on top of inspecting the bathroom to make sure it remains safe for the senior citizen to use. 

Many seniors have problems with memory or find it hard to see things correctly. Therefore, you should never rely on the individual themselves to raise an issue with damage or anything else that may be unsafe. They may not even realize that the item in question has become unsafe. This is why it’s important to keep on top of inspecting a senior’s bathroom on a regular basis. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many reasons why you should make your retirement home bathrooms more senior-friendly. Not only will they prevent slips and falls, but they will also make it much more satisfying and comfortable for the individual to use the bathroom without supervision. 

In this article, we have highlighted six of the best ways that you can make your retirement home bathrooms more senior-friendly. Some examples include adding walk-in tubs, installing non-slip mats, and adding toilet handrails. We have also gone over some additional things that you can add to the bathroom to make it much safer for an elderly person to use. 

We hope that this article has provided you with everything you need to know about senior bathrooms, how to make them much safer for elderly citizens, and why it’s so important to make bathrooms safe for the elderly. 

Superior Commercial Solutions Can Help
If you think it’s time to revamp your retirement center’s bathrooms, give Superior Commercial Solutions a call. We’re an industry leader for supplying and installing cabinets and quartz countertops for multi-family, student housing, assisted living, and hospitality projects. Although we’re based in Utah, we proudly work on high-volume projects throughout the U.S. Discover the Superior Commercial Solutions difference by getting in touch with us.