The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that about 235,000 people go to emergency rooms each year with injuries sustained in bathrooms. Such mishaps increase with age, and accidents related to falls getting in and out of the bathtub are particularly hazardous and frequently fatal for seniors. Most of these catastrophes are easily avoidable.
Advances in design and technology have brought all kinds of new products to the market, including curbless showers (removing the “stumble” factor), taller toilets and lighting that is layered in such a way as to prevent glare.
Tubs with water-sealant doors are readily available. Grab bars no longer have to look institutional, but are more easily incorporated into a bathroom’s design and serve additional functions such as soap and shampoo holders. Flip-up shower seats and hand-held shower heads have been around for decades, and are more functional and user-friendly now than ever.
Motion sensors on lighting and dimmer switches allow for handier access. Adequate lighting becomes increasingly important as we age: By 40, the average person begins to notice diminution in vision, and by age 60, we need three times as much light to see as effectively as we did when we were in our 20s.
Other new design features that increase safety and decrease the opportunity for mishaps include no-touch faucets, lever handles to replace doorknobs, drawers that can be opened with a nudge, and counters with knee space beneath, allowing for sitting and wheelchair access.
Lowering storage space to the point of use (shelves at waist-level, for example) is another improvement in bathroom safety design. Features like these reduce hazards substantially and can allow people to remain living independently in their homes for a considerably longer period of time than they might be able to do otherwise.
For more tips on safety-proofing your bathroom or for assistance in remodeling, contact Handyman Matters at 1-800-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location near you.