Community Blog

Tips for Bathroom Safety and Independence for Seniors with Mobility Limitations

By Vicki and Brian Day

For many elderly adults, one of the first areas of their life where they being to have difficulties is their mobility. Illnesses, injuries, trauma, wear and tear, balance problems, and other issues can make it challenging for your elderly adult to get around their home comfortably and safely, and manage the needs and challenges that they might have on a daily basis. This can limit their independence and require them to have more help than they might otherwise require. This can diminish their mental and emotional health, and reduce their quality of life. One area where this is particularly true can be the bathroom. Seniors with mobility limitations might not be able to handle their bathroom requirements safely, but may struggle with the emotional difficulties of needing to ask for help to handle these tasks. Implementing safety measures can help to keep them safer, preserve their independence, and help them to live a more fulfilling lifestyle as they age in place.

Use these tips to help boost and preserve bathroom safety and independence for a senior with mobility limitations:

• Add grab bars. A senior with mobility limitations is likely to reach out for something to hold on to when they are feeling off balance or are trying to walk through a space. This can cause them to reach for something unstable such as a towel rod, which can collapse, causing a serious fall and potentially devastating injuries. Grab bars are designed to support their weight so they can use them for leverage to help them move more confidently. Ensure they are installed properly and rated to support your loved one’s weight.

• Ensure a slip-free tub. The slippery bottom of a tub can be treacherous for a senior who is not able to effectively balance or catch themselves. Reduce the risk of falls by adding non-slip texture to the bottom of the tub or shower. This will help them to get in and out of the bath or shower securely, and then bathe with greater confidence.

• Use the proper tools. Simply utilizing different tools can help your parent to stay safer while in the bathroom. Items such as sponges with long handles and devices that hold toilet tissue on a handle reduce the need for your parent to bend, stretch, and reach, which helps to keep your parent from losing their balance while handling critical bathroom tasks.

• Adjust their toilet. Raising your parent’s toilet and adding handles on either side can make a tremendous difference in your parent’s safety and independence in the bathroom. These provide leverage and balance while also reducing the distance that your parent has to sit and stand, reducing the chances that they will lose their balance and fall.

If your parent’s needs, limitations, and challenges have become more than you feel that you can handle effectively and efficiently, your schedule has changed and you are no longer able to be with them as often as you would like to, or you simply feel that they would benefit from diversified attention during their later years, now may be the ideal time for you to consider starting home care for them. A care provider can be in the home with your elderly loved one on a schedule that is right not just for their individual needs and limitations, but also the care that you are able to give to them. This means that they are able to help your senior remain safe, happy, healthy, and comfortable while also pursuing a lifestyle that is as active, engaged, independent, and fulfilling as possible as they age in place. This can give your parent reassurance while giving you tremendous peace of mind knowing that even when you are not able to be with them, they are getting everything that they need, easing your caregiver stress and improving quality of life for both you and your senior.