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Safety-Proofing Your Parents’ Bathroom

With slippery floors, hard surfaces, and tight spaces, bathrooms can be especially challenging for older adults and those with limited mobility. Here are some simple solutions for safety-proofing your parents’ bathroom to reduce dangerous slips and falls.

Clear a Path

Bathroom safety begins before you enter the doorway. Keep the halls clear of shoes, laundry baskets, and other clutter. For increased visibility, install nightlights in and around the bathroom.

Evaluate the Entry

Bathroom doorways may be narrower than other doorways, so be sure there’s an unobstructed path, wide enough to walk through comfortably. Keep in mind that walkers, rollators, and wheelchairs will require additional space. Make note of the doorway’s saddle, too: If either of your parents use a walker, crutches, or a cane, you should arrange for a physical therapist to show them how they can navigate that half-inch rise in the floor safely.

Slip-proof the Floor

Install nonslip mats and decals (use several) on the bathtub or shower floor, and be sure the bathmat or any area rugs have a rubberized back to keep them from sliding. Wet tile can be slippery, so wipe up any spills as soon as possible.

Install Grab Bars

If your parent has limited mobility or problems with balance, grab bars will make it easier to get into and out of the shower or tub, or on and off the toilet. These bars should be installed by a professional, who can make sure they are placed at the proper height and angle for your parents’ safety. Tip: Do not use towel bars! They are are glued or grouted onto the walls and are not designed to support body weight.

Consider Special Equipment

A raised toilet seat (with or without handles) will make it easier for your parent to get on and off the commode. A retractable shower head that’s connected to a hose makes rinsing off easy, especially if your parent uses a shower chair.

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