Practical & Inexpensive Bathtub Tips for Seniors to Avoid Injury

Find practical information about a variety of products designed to help those with mobility or balance problems to more easily and safely shower or bathe.

Enjoying the feel of a refreshing bath or shower may seem a distant memory to many seniors, but several products are available to enable those with limited mobility, balance issues, decreased sensation, and other health issues to safely wash in the bathtub. Choosing a product that is best suited to one’s needs may increase independence and decrease the chances of injuries like a hip fracture in a senior or a back injury in a caregiver.

Simple and Inexpensive Products May Help Prevent Falls in the Bathroom

Combine wet feet with a loss of balance, and often a fall will result. Some of the simplest and least expensive aids for the bathroom include:

  • wearing shoes designed for water walking, aqua shoes, or water shoes that will not slip off the feet (Readers may also wish to read about products designed to help seniors put on and take off shoes.)
  • rails or grab bars that are installed securely and appropriately placed
  • anti-slip mat for the tub (Follow cleaning instructions to ensure that mold growth does not develop – avoid using bath oils or any other products that may make the tub more slippery.)
  • anti-slip mat for the floor outside the tub (Throw rugs that slide can increase the chances of a fall.)

Bath Seat and Hand-held Shower Nozzle May Help Seniors with Bathing

Other names for a seat designed to be used in the tub include:

  • shower chair
  • bath chair
  • shower bench
  • bath bench
  • shower seat
  • bath seat
  • bath transfer bench
  • shower transfer bench

A wide variety of bath seats are available, from free-standing shower chairs that can be moved from room to room to those that are attached to the bathing area that is folded down for use. A long bath seat that extends across the top of the tub can be helpful because the senior can sit on one surface to transfer to the inside of the tub and vice versa. Other bath seat options include:

  • adjustable height
  • a seat that swivels (particularly helpful for people with more severe mobility issues and/or pain from arthritis or other health issues)
  • heavy duty size
  • lightweight models
  • ability to fold for travel
  • space saving bath stools
  • with or without a back
  • with or without holes in the seat
  • attached bag for holding bathing products
  • bath seat that doubles as a bedside commode
  • variety of colors

A hand-held shower nozzle can help a senior who wishes to select the direction of the spray of water. These may be mounted to the wall or temporarily attached to the tub faucet. It is helpful to have a holding place for the nozzle that he or she can reach, particularly if the senior will remain seated throughout the shower. Additional options to consider include:

  • models that conserve water
  • high-pressure nozzles
  • spray options (such as massage)
  • design style
  • weight of the nozzle

Products Designed to Make Bathing Safer for Seniors

Seniors with certain underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, people experiencing weakness, or older adults who are on medications are especially at risk for falls, which can have devastating consequences. These products may help a senior to become or stay more independent while decreasing the risk for injury while bathing.

Those with underlying medical conditions should consult with a physician regarding the safest choice of bath safety products related to medical needs. Many seniors also benefit from exercises, such as Silver Sneakers, yoga, Tai Chi, or other programs designed to help maintain balance, increase range of movement, and more.