Bathrooms: Modify the Most Dangerous Room in Your Home


Without thinking, you make daily trips to the bathroom, but according to the CDC, 234,094 people visit the emergency room each year due to injuries sustained in the bathroom, with injuries increasing with age and peaking after 85. For people over 85, over half of their injuries occur near the toilet, with the most hazardous activities being bathing, showering, and getting out of the bathtub or shower. If bathroom injuries increase with age, it makes sense to modify your bathroom to prevent injuries and ensure that as you age, you are safe in the comfort of your own home.


Benefits of Home Modification


For many seniors, remaining in their home is not only crucial in order to maintain their independence, but it is often more cost-effective than other options such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. The proper home modifications provide the benefit of not only remaining at home, but adapting the living space so that you can live safely and perform tasks better. Although the large, claw-foot bathtub was a luxury when you were 30, it can quickly become a safety issue as you age and your needs and abilities change. Think of modifying your home as a way to continue living life as you normally would, with a little extra support in the areas you are lacking.


As you take a look at your bathroom, consider safety, accessibility, and adaptability. Look for safety hazards and anything that could prevent you from performing tasks safely, and make sure everything is accessible in order to perform the desired task. With home modifications, you are adapting your home to your changing situation, so look for ways the room can be adapted to promote ease of use, mobility, and safety.


Adjust the Appliances


The key elements in most bathrooms are the shower/bathtub and the toilet. Modifying these elements is a necessity to create a bathroom that reduces the risk of injury. If you are opting to age in place, consider replacing the bathtub with a curbless walk-in shower to create an easier and safer entry and exit. If you prefer to keep your tub, look into a walk-in option. Purchasing a new shower or tub outright might be over budget, so opt for less expensive modifications such as a safety or grab bar, as well as safety strips, to prevent slips and falls. Another option is a bathtub transfer bench, which straddles the side of the bathtub, allowing you to sit safely on the bench while getting in and out. If space is limited, find a bathtub chair that sits completely inside the bathtub.


Toilets can pose a hazard too. Increase your bathroom safety further by elevating the toilet seat to make getting up and down safe and comfortable. Using a toilet riser or thick toilet cushion rather than replacing the toilet entirely can give you the added elevation you need. It is a good idea to install grab bars in this area too to provide additional assistance when necessary. Other miscellaneous home modifications for the bathroom include a bathroom phone in case of emergencies, as well as doors that can be unlocked from the outside, rounded counter edges, and offset controls in the shower and tub to minimize reaching and bending.


Don’t Forget the Floors


When you look for ways to modify your bathroom, don’t forget about the floor you are standing on. To minimize slips and falls, place non-slip bath mats and rugs on the floor outside of the shower and tub, as well as the toilet. It may be a good idea to place a rug in front of the sink as well, to absorb any water that may be accidentally and unknowingly spilled during a trip to the bathroom late at night. Try to find rugs that are thin rather than bulky, as they may interfere with your balance or lead to tripping, and secure all rugs and mats with tape. Non-slip tape is a great option for the floors of your shower and bathtub too, to increase your traction and grip.


As you age in your home, strive to make your home safe and accessible to avoid unwanted trips to the emergency room. Start by modifying your bathroom, and then assess each room in your home for possible modifications.