A fall can happen to anyone. But as you age, the repercussions can be more serious1 so planning ahead to prevent falls is key. Identifying everyday hazards in your home is one way to help you avoid a tumble. One thing that can be particularly hazardous is a wet shower floor2. By adding a few items and making some minor adjustments to your bathroom, you can comfortably - and safely - enjoy your next shower.
Keep essentials within arm’s reach.
Think about what you need for your shower and where those things are placed right now. Is the soap or shampoo on the ledge above the shower door? Where is that loofah or washcloth? Is the towel on a shelf on the far side of the sink? If so, those items may be too far away and hard to get while you are showering. Leaning out of the shower or stretching to retrieve an item will put you off-balance and at risk of a fall. Instead, place everything you need within arm’s reach.
Place a nonslip shower mat on tub or shower floor.
Having a grippy rubber shower mat in your tub or shower helps provide solid footing while you shower. The suction cups on the bottom of the mat help keep it firmly in place, while the textured top helps make it less slippery for your feet, even when the mat is wet or covered with shampoo.
Shower more comfortably with a bench or chair.
Has it become difficult to stand for your entire shower? Try using a bath bench or shower chair to sit on while you shower. The bench has a small footprint so it fits easily inside your tub or shower, while the chair adds a back for that extra level of comfort. The legs adjust easily to make the bench a comfortable height for you. Planning a trip? The bench or chair can easily be disassembled to take along with you for comfortable showering at your destination.
Bridge the tub wall with a transfer bench.
If your shower is part of your tub unit, it can be difficult to climb in and out without falling. You may want to consider a transfer bench that straddles the tub wall. You can sit down and slide over and into your shower safely. The back and side armrest provide comfortable support during your shower. Easily put together without tools, you can swap the back and armrest to the other side of the bench to accommodate your tub’s layout.
Direct the water where you want.
If you are using a bath bench with a wall-mounted shower head, the shower head is typically out of reach, making it difficult to direct the flow of water. A handheld shower head with a long hose allows you to direct the water exactly where you want it.
Reaching for a little assistance.
Don’t necessarily need to sit for your shower, but could use something to help steady yourself in wobbly moments? Try a quick to install shower assist bar that adheres to the wall with suction cups - so there’s no drilling through your tile. The assist bar has a “red” and “green” indicator that lets you know the locking mechanism is engaged and the bar is ready for use.
Install grab bars for sturdier support.
Did you know that up to 12% of bathroom injuries occur getting in and out of the tub 2? If you need something sturdy to hold onto while getting in or out of your tub, consider a grab bar that is anchored directly into the wall.
Functional grab bars can also look stylish. They come in a variety of finishes to complement your bathroom decor, including white enamel and classic chrome.
Grab bars are easy to install in just a few minutes, and can provide sturdy support and balance you need in your bathroom. If this is your first time installing grab bars, consult with a contractor for best approach and placement recommendations.
Putting it all together.
Preventing falls in the shower begins by planning ahead. By keeping your essentials within easy reach and using supportive elements to accommodate your specific needs, your shower can be safer and more comfortable. Need additional help? Discuss with an interior designer or contractor with experience in accessible design.
1Important Facts about Falls. (2017, February 10) CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
2Bakalar, N. (2011, August 15). Watch Your Step While Washing Up. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/health/research/16stats.html