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Bathroom safety - adults

Alternate Names

Older adult bathroom safety

What to Consider at Home

Staying safe in the bathroom is important for people with joint pain, muscle weakness, or physical disability. If you have these problems, you will need to make some changes in your bathroom.

Bath or Shower

You can make several changes to protect yourself when you take a bath or shower:

  • Put non-slip suction mats or rubber silicone decals in the tub to prevent falls.
  • Use a non-skid bath mat outside the tub for firm footing.
  • Have someone install a single lever on your faucet (if you don’t have one), to mix hot and cold water together.
  • Have someone set the temperature on your water heater to 120° F to prevent burns.
  • Sit on a bath chair or bench when taking a shower.
  • Keep the floor outside the tub or shower dry.

Toilets

Raising the toilet seat height can help keep your bathroom safe. You can do this by adding a seat cover or elevated toilet seat. You can also use a commode chair instead of a toilet.

Consider a special seat called a portable bidet. It helps you clean your bottom without using your hands. It sprays warm water to clean, then warm air to dry.

Safety Bars for the Bath and Toilet

You may need to have safety bars in your bathroom. Grab bars should be secured vertically or horizontally to the wall, not diagonally.

Do not use towel racks as grab bars, they cannot support your weight.

You will need two grab bars. One helps you get in and out of the tub. The other helps you stand from a sitting position.

When to Call Your Doctor

If you are not sure what changes you need to make in your bathroom, ask your doctor for a referral to a occupational therapist. The occupational therapist can visit your bathroom and make safety recommendations.

References

Denson, KM. Home care. In: Duthie EH, Katz PR, Malone ML, eds. Practice of Geriatrics. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 10.

Hile ES, Studenski SA. Instability and falls. In: Duthie EH, Katz PR, Malone ML, eds. Practice of Geriatrics. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 17.

Kenneth L.In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 24.


Review Date: 5/13/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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