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What Your OT Wants to Tell You About Your Bathroom

Five things your OT recommends to improve your safety in the bathroom.





The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that falls in the bathroom to be a major cause of injuries for older adults. The highest rate of injuries occur in or around the shower with bathing being the preceding factor to most bathroom falls. Slipping while getting in and out of the shower, slipping in the shower, and getting up and down from the toilet were the most common ways of falling in the bathroom.


These are distressing statistics. Especially distressing as most people do NOT want someone to help them in the bathroom! Luckily, there are many simple and attractive things you can do to reduce your fall risk in the bathroom.


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Tip #1 - Install not your grandma's grab bars


Grab bars have come a long way over the past few years and can be very stylish and pretty. Since slips getting on and off the toilet and in and out of the shower are the most common types of bathroom falls, it makes sense that grab bars in those areas would be helpful. It is important to check with your OT before installing grab bars to ensure they are in the right place for you. Check out these stylish grab bars that don't look like grab bars.








AND this lovely shower grab bar that functions as a shelf.









For more information about grab bars, I HIGHLY suggest you check out my friend Maria at Toilettalk. me







Tip #2 - Add a nonskid surface to your shower and shower entrance


You can greatly reduce your risk of slipping while stepping in and out of your shower by adding non-skid strips in the shower and a non-skid rug outside of your shower. Many of my clients step out of the shower on a towel, which has been working for them for several years, but a towel on a tile floor can be slippery and if you start to slide, the towel is going to go with you. A non-skid rug outside of your shower is essential.


I like non-skid strips over shower mats. In my experience, mats tend to lose their grip and become slippery with soap and water. Non-skid strips are inexpensive and easy to install. Look for strips that match the color of your shower for a seamless look.


Rugs that are extra squishy can throw you off balance. Your bathroom rugs should have a non-skid backing and be low profile.


Tip #3 - Consider a bidet


Bidets are all the rage right now. Everyone has one! Bidets are a great addition to any bathroom. As we age it is common to reduce the frequency of bathing to every other day or a few times a week. Bidets are a great way to get a quick re-fresh, especially on the days that you don't want to shower.

Check out Maria at Toilet Talk again, for her great resources on all things toileting, including her bidet guide.







Tip #4 - Install a chair or comfortable height toilet seat


The height of your toilet is largely dependent on your height. It is a good idea to check with your OT before making a major change to your toilet. You can always start with a removable raised toilet seat to try before committing to a new toilet. The average toilet seat is 13-15 inches. A comfortable height toilet is 15-17 inches. A chair-height toilet is approx. 17-19 inches.









Tip #5 -Use good lighting


Having proper lighting can reduce your fall risk.  Especially at night! Nighttime bathroom runs can increase your fall risk. Consider motion lights for your bathroom and hallways. A fun option can be these toilet lights!


Check out this awesome article from the Science of Falling about lighting.





In-closing


The concept of aging in place is that by making some preventative changes now before we need them, we can prevent falls. Many of these recommendations can not only be functional but look great! It is a good idea to consult with an OT or a Certified Aging in aging-in-place specialist before making any major changes to your bathroom. I hope you all consider making some changes to your bathroom to reduce your fall risk and stay safe!


P.S. Please reach out to Maria at Toilet Talk for any advice related to grab bars, toilets, or bathrooms in general!


Thanks for reading!


Jenny OT


Jenny Williams, OTR/L, OTD, CAPS

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