Shower Safety Tips for the Elderly

Contributor: Tamsen Butler
Senior Woman Taking Shower

Showers for the elderly that follow universal design practices help older and frail adults to maintain their health and independence. Showering without assistance is important for elderly people living alone or with an elderly partner.

Why Specifically-Designed Showers for Elderly People Are Important

Not all the elder population is frail - only a minority, in fact. However, in the early 1990s, research indicated that while elderly individuals with specific physical needs make up only about 15 to 25 percent of the population worldwide, though the numbers are growing each year. In fact, one out of every 8 Americans now falls within the category of "old," according to Transgenerational Design Matters.

Bathroom Modifications

The ability to properly tend to daily needs enables many seniors to live independently. Bathroom modifications provide peace of mind for safety as well as comfort. The good news is bathrooms are one of the least expensive remodeling projects to tackle for accessibility, especially if taken in stages.

Ideas for Safe Shower Stalls for Seniors

Some ideas for making a shower safe and accessible include:

Have a First Floor Shower

With no stairs to climb up or down to reach the shower or tub, the potential for falls on the way to shower is greatly reduced. Stairs may also dissuade a less-mobile elderly person from even attempting to bathe themselves.

Install Non-Slip Tubs or Stalls

Adhere non-skid tub strips or rubber suction mats to help someone avoid slips. Placemats outside the shower area, too. If you have to replace an entire tub, some have non-slip finishes.

Try a Simple Shower Stall

In most cases, a stand-alone shower stall is safer than a bathtub, because there is no climbing in and out.

Consider a Walk-In Bath

Appliance manufacturer Wasauna offers the Safe Hands Bath. This walk-in bathtub may cost a little more, but it is a great solution for those who would like a bath and a shower.

Attach Guard Rails on Bath Walls

Guardrails can help anyone reach out for better support, either while standing or in the event of a spell of unsteadiness.

Reset Water Temperature

Resetting the water temperature reduces the potential for scalding. A comfortable temperature is around 90-to-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously, the right water temperature depends on the individual, but water that is hotter increase the potential for burns.

Install a Hand-Held Shower Head

A hand-held or flexible shower head helps people with less flexibility reach areas all over the body easier.

Buy a Shower Seat

Simply sitting down during a shower may be a great relief to many seniors. Many showers for the elderly are manufactured with a bench as part of the wall surround, or you can buy one.

Have an Alarm Close By

Senior medical alarm systems are a good idea for individuals so they can call for help quickly, especially near the shower where a fall can result in significant injury.

Enhance the Lighting

Simply increasing the bulb wattage might make a real difference in moving about with ease. Also, plug in a nightlight.

Place Bath Essentials Consistently

Make sure items like shampoo, washcloths, and towels are put in the same place every single time for those who may have trouble remembering.

Respect Privacy

If an elderly individual needs someone to accompany them into the bathroom while they shower for safety reasons, then privacy measures should be taken. Opaque liners or shower doors, robes positioned within easy reach, and quiet help to show respect.

Safe Shower Products

Many safety shower products are available for purchase, and myriad resources provide expert advice on making showering as safe as possible for elderly people.

  • InterNACHI offers a great checklist with recommendations about elder safety and products that can help.
  • Active Forever features a huge selection of shower safety products that will benefit anyone who needs better accessibility.
  • If you're looking at a complete redesign, consider these showers for the elderly and other people with physical limitations from Perfect Bath Solutions.

If you need to make bathroom modifications to your home or that of a loved one, speak to a reputable contractor to ensure the job is done right.

Shower Safety Tips for the Elderly