As we age, everything becomes a falling hazard. From tripping on a carpet to slipping on a wet shower floor, there are dangers lurking in every room of the house. And while a complete renovation might be necessary, there are certain rooms you need to pay more attention to. The first place you should renovate is the bathroom, especially considering that up to 80% of home falls happen in there. One of the first things to bear in mind is changing the senior’s old bathtub or shower for a safer option. Walk-in showers are a great solution, as they allow seniors to enter the shower stall without lifting their leg and losing their balance. Additionally, they offer various extra security features to make sure the senior is safe while taking a shower.
When To Consider a Walk-in Shower
Nowadays, you often see walk-in showers in modern bathrooms, regardless of whether the user needs its safety features or not. But, if you're interested in getting a walk-in shower because of its extra security, it's best to get one sooner rather than later, as the senior only needs to fall once to end up with life-changing injuries.
The main reason to get a walk-in shower is if the senior no longer has the dexterity to get into a regular shower or bathtub. Or, if the older adult already needs assistance to take a shower, walk-in showers offer enough space to place a shower chair inside. There are other factors that make a walk-in shower worthwhile even before the senior loses their mobility. For instance, walk-in showers are useful for seniors who have osteoporosis and are at a higher risk of breaking a bone. Even if they can enter a bathtub with no problem, it's better to mitigate the risk of the senior losing their balance.
Recommended Walk-in Showers for Seniors
DreamLine Acrylic Shower Base
With prices starting at $725, the DreamLine acrylic shower base is a good solution for those who aren’t able to spend a lot of money on a walk-in shower. While the shower doesn’t come with safety features built in, it does come with space for you to add them yourself (however this will void the equipment’s one-year warranty). Since it doesn’t have doors and the shower base measures 30″x60″, it’s perfect for seniors who prefer to use a shower chair. For extra security, the shower floor is made of slip-resistant material, and you can choose to have the drain base on the center, left, or right side of the shower.
Ella Shower Wall Kit
The Ella walk-in shower is perfect for those that want a product that comes with all the security features built in. It includes three grab bars, a shower bench, and a textured slip-resistant floor. Additionally, the steel-reinforced beveled threshold and collapsible white rubbed dam allow for a wheelchair to roll into the shower stall without the water overflowing. This comes at a high cost, though. Ella Shower Wall Kit’s comes at a whopping $5,530 and is only covered by a one-year warranty. It also doesn’t help that you’ll still need to get and assemble the showerhead yourself. Even so, if you’re concerned about safety, the Ella walk-in shower is worth your consideration.
Best Walk-in Shower Features for Seniors
There isn’t a perfect walk-in shower that fits every senior’s needs. To get the best one for the user, you’ll need to take into consideration the senior’s requirements and the size of their bathroom. Still, there are some features you want to make sure your walk-in shower comes with. The shower’s floor should be slip-resistant and offer the lowest walk-in step possible. If the senior showers while sitting in their wheelchair, it’s better to have a small ramp or no step at all.
On the other hand, seniors who can take a shower by themselves may require a shower bench. Even if they don’t use it on a daily basis, it’s perfect in case they feel faint due to the hot water. For the same reason, it’s worth considering getting grab bars to help the senior stay steady while showering. Additionally, consider going with a wireless showerhead to prevent the user from getting tangled up while showering.
Moreover, adding storage to the shower maximizes the use of bathroom space and makes it easier for the senior to grab what they need, reducing the risk of slipping. Finally, since walk-in showers can be expensive, always check the company’s warranty policy, as you want to make sure you’re covered if anything goes wrong.
Additional Shower Safety Advice for the Elderly
Getting either a walk-in shower or a walk-in tub is just the first step to make the bathroom safe. Adding an elevated toilet seat, installing grab bars across the room, and changing the floor for a non-slippery one, are just a few examples of what you can do to improve your loved one’s safety. Of course, it’s essential that you go over all the renovations with the senior – they’re the ones who are going to use the bathroom after all.
For extra peace of mind, we also recommend getting a medical alert system. For instance, water-resistant necklaces with fall detection are the perfect backup in case the user falls and loses consciousness, as the caregiver’s team will call for help even if the senior doesn’t answer. More importantly, medical alert systems work 24/7 wherever the user is, even if they’re outside the house. In other words, it’s the ultimate safety net for any accident that might happen.