Skip to main content

21OAK may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

5 hidden bathroom safety risks for your aging parents

It can be anxiety inducing to think about all of the hidden dangers in your parents’ home as they age. Nowhere is this more important than in their bathroom. Because it’s a room where they are most vulnerable, what with stepping in and out of showers onto wet floors and lots of hard surfaces around, the space deserves extra consideration. Bathroom safety comes in many forms, so you’ll need to take stock of the areas that are of biggest concern and address those first. Then, depending on the size of the space, you can add more safety measures as needed.

When thinking about a bath for seniors, here are five hidden safety risks you need to know about and recommendations for how to fix them. Most don’t take long to install and can be done in a weekend.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Keep slippery feet in place

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.5 million seniors are treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by falls each year. Water can cause a floor to be slippery, so finding ways to keep it off the floor is key. Make sure you have bathroom rugs with a no-slip back — both directly out of the shower and by the sink — so wet feet stay in place.


Inside shower safety

Falls inside the shower are common, so installing proper safety equipment is critical. Place a grab bar on the inside shower wall for your parent to hold onto if they feel like they are falling. A shower seat or bench is also helpful if there’s room, so they can sit if they feel tired or faint, or to reach their lower legs and feet while showering. This is also important if your parent has balance issues. Inside the shower, apply non-slip mats to prevent falls.

Recommended Videos

Don’t forget about lighting

Bathrooms don’t always have the best lighting, but this can be a danger if there is water on the floor or clothing that can cause your parent to fall. This may mean changing the wattage of lightbulbs to keep things light and bright. It also may mean adding additional lighting or spot lighting near the shower and sink. Finally, make sure there is adequate lighting leading into the bathroom, so if they need to use the restroom at night, they have a well-lit path.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Consider the space

If your parent’s bathroom is small and you worry they don’t have adequate space to move and undress, you may want to look at moving them into a larger bathroom in the home or remodeling the bathroom to give them more room in the shower. If a whole-room renovation isn’t possible, you could replace a bathtub-shower combo with a step-in shower stall, so they don’t have to step up and into the tub, and risk balance issues.

In general, try to limit the amount of bending over, squatting, or standing for long periods of time. If they store towels underneath a vanity, consider moving those to eye level in a bathroom closet or hanging wall shelves so they are at eye level. Similarly, in the shower, make sure shampoo and soaps are at eye level, so they don’t have to bend to get them.

Added support

If your parent has trouble getting up from a seated position without help, consider installing a grab bar near the toilet, so they have the ability to hold onto something for assistance. If they still prefer taking a bath over a shower and have difficulty getting up, a transfer bench can also help them get their feet stable. For those with balance issues, a handheld showerhead may give them added control, especially if closing their eyes causes additional balance concerns.

Taking all the above into consideration will help, but there’s never a guarantee your parent won’t fall. If it continues to be a concern, you may need to take additional measures in case of an emergency, like having a family member in the home while they shower or wearing a device like a Life Alert, so if they do fall, they can call 911 for help.

The goal is to help your parent live independently for as long as it’s safe for them to do so, and these safety measures will go a long way in that respect. It can be a difficult conversation to have, especially if your parent isn’t receptive to adding one or all of the changes above to their life, but it’s important to be open with your concerns and let them know you’re doing it with their best interest in mind.

Julie Scagell
Former Digital Trends Contributor
I am a freelance writer based in Minneapolis, MN. My passions include my dogs, talking about my dogs, and taking pictures of…
7 simple safety tips to stop a rug from sliding (and you from tripping)
Keep your rug where you want it so you can stay safe
Modern living room with leather sofa and large red rug

Area rugs are a great way to bring the room together. They add decorative flair to your space and offer comfort while standing or walking on them. Even though they're popular in modern homes, rugs are difficult to keep in place, particularly on hardwood floors.

They slide around easily and even curl up at the corners, creating slipping and tripping hazards for you and your family. Luckily, there are several ways you can successfully keep your rug where you want it. We're going to discuss how to stop a rug from sliding with seven simple solutions.
Why does my rug keep moving?

Read more
25 stellar staircase ideas to freshen up the look of your home
Not ready for an entire remodel? Update your staircase with one of these ideas
Young woman on stairs in a loft caring for potted plants.

If you want to change the interior of your house, you can change out throw pillows and invest in new furniture, but your stairs are a set thing, right? Not quite. You may not be able to move stairs or rip them out entirely, but you can get creative about your stair design.

Changing up your staircase can be one way to upgrade the look of your home and it isn't as difficult as you may think. If you aren’t sure how to accomplish this, we’ve got 25 ideas ranging from subtle to dramatic to help you figure it out. Keep reading for inspiration on how to update your staircase.

Read more
What colors go with purple? 9 captivating shades for your home
Here's how to decorate with purple and find colors that complement it
Living room with purple couch and walls

Purple represents royalty, mystery, peace, and much more, depending on who you ask. So, why can’t you decorate with purple? There are many ways to work it in if purple is your thing, from purple color combinations to purple accents.

Research shows that people who decorate with purple are most likely to say their home makes them happy, and Pantone's color of the year in 2022 certainly celebrated the shade. If you already love purple, this is definitely the read for you, but if you need some convincing, this just may be the thing that convinces you that purple is the right choice for remodeling your space.

Read more