The Bathroom Doesn't Have to Be the Most Dangerous Room in the House

by Alan Knight

Most people don’t necessarily think of the bathroom as a hazardous area in their home.   But did you know that almost 200,000 Americans are treated in emergency rooms for bathroom-related injuries annually? According to the National Institute on Aging, more than one in three seniors over age 65 falls each year and 80% of these falls occur in the bathroom. Many of these falls can result in head trauma or broken bones that can lead to a lack of mobility and independence for seniors. They are more vulnerable to these falls due to lack of agility and balance issues. Seniors also have a 25% chance of dying if they fall and break a hip.

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Bathrooms are notoriously dangerous. Most bathrooms are tiled and become slippery when wet. Towel racks that are not sufficiently secured can fall when grabbed. Sliding shower doors that are not secure can move if used to support oneself. Toilets that are low can be difficult to get up from and cause one to lose balance.  All of these are potential hazards, especially for the elderly.

Stepping in and out of a bathtub or shower may not seem like a difficult feat, but it can be a more dangerous task if one is weak or frail. It is all too easy to step in or out of the shower or tub without realizing the floor is wet, thus causing a potentially serious accident. Most bathtubs and showers don’t have handles to hold onto if one loses their balance. Neither do they have non-slip adhesive strips which can prevent accidental falls. Older showers don’t have a handheld shower head either, which requires one to stand in a fixed place for the duration. Elderly people often have a difficult time standing for longer periods of time. A remedy to that may be to purchase a shower chair. A good shower chair has rubber tips on the legs to prevent slipping, but if it’s not secured there is potential for an accident. As you can see, bathtubs and showers are designed primarily for functionality and aesthetics, not for safety.  As a result, their design hasn’t changed significantly through the years.

Safety showers were created to reduce the risk of bathroom-related injuries for seniors.  This allows
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them to be independent and take care of their own needs. This independence is critical as we age. Bathing is one of the six “Activities of Daily Living” that is required to allow one to live independently. The other activities are: mobility, bathing, dressing, feeding, hygiene and toilet hygiene. Usually, if at least two of these activities are not met, a senior will need professional care which can be expensive. A safety shower can help to prevent that expense by decreasing the probability of injury in the bathroom. They provide a comfortable and safe bathing experience while giving you or a loved one more peace of mind.

Safety showers and tubs are specifically designed for seniors or people with limited mobility. They have features that address every need, whether one is in a wheelchair and wants the ability to bathe privately and safely, or just for someone who has difficulty getting in and out of a traditional tub or shower. When the goal is safety and accident prevention, these showers address those goals.

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The key feature in safety showers is the easy walk-in ability. They offer zero and low threshold options which allow the ease of walking (or rolling) into the shower with little need to maneuver or
climb. With a low or zero threshold shower, there is little to no difference between the level of the floor of the bathroom and the shower. This is immensely helpful for one who may be weak, have issues with balance or is in a wheelchair. Zero threshold showers are on floor level and are designed for the wheelchair bound. Low threshold showers have a slight climb of typically three to four inches.

Another feature of a well-designed safety shower is a built-in seat which is a much safer option than a traditional shower chair which can slip or move causing a person to lose their balance. They are molded into the shower at a height that is comfortable and safe to sit without being too low.   This enables one to sit without having to strain or lose their balance.

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Grab bars are placed to provide stability if one needs help to get up and out of the shower. They are securely built into the shower so there is no fear of movement. A well-designed safety shower will also have a handheld shower head for ease and flexibility. It should be easy to grab and be at a length where one can sit in a built in chair and shower easily. This feature allows one who has a difficult time standing for longer periods of time to bathe while sitting.

A non-slip surface is essential in any safety shower. These non-stick aids can be decals or rubber strips. They can be added to a shower or tub or built into the surface. They are another added protection against falls and accidents, all of which are designed into every safety shower or tub.

We want to protect ourselves and our loved ones from danger, especially those in their golden years. We all want to live independently while living our lives with dignity. There are many ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones even if it involves the simple things that we often take for granted.

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Since many senior citizens have accidents in the bathroom and may have difficulty bathing on their own, is it worth it to make the investment in a safety shower or tub that will give them the independence and safety needed to allow them to lead the lives they should in their golden years?

In this article, we have addressed many of the hazards and accidents in the bathroom that can happen as well as ways some of these can be ameliorated. The safety Suite shower has its place in the solution, especially for the elderly or disabled. It was a creation that needed to happen.

Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and my brother, Alan, who heads up Tub King, will personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.

Alan Knight is the owner of Tub King, Inc., and  in Jacksonville, Florida. He has many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. His companies not only provide superior products, they are also award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. To contact Tub King directly, call (800)843-4231 or email