Simple fixes to enhance your safety in the bathroom
SAFETY in the bathroom is paramount if you're a little unsteady on your feet or struggle to sit down and stand up easily.
Bathrooms are full of hard and unforgiving surfaces – such as ceramic tiles, porcelain fittings or rigid plastics – meaning that if you slip or fall you could easily break a bone or knock yourself out. On top of that, surfaces can often be wet, making them even more slippery.
All the more reason to take extra care in the bathroom, and there is a wide range of adaptations available to make them safer places for people who are frail or live with reduced mobility. In this article we’ll look specifically at anti-slip mats and adaptive toilet seats:
Anti-slip bathroom mats
Fixing a non-slip rubber or rubber-backed mat to an otherwise slippery surface is an economical but effective way to increase safety. For a nominal financial outlay, you can eliminate a significant hazard. First, there are anti-slip mats designed to sit in the bathtub, the shower tray or wetroom floor. Usually made of rubber, they fix securely to the surface beneath with a series of suction cups – the more the better.
These rubber mats can be plain and rectangular or patterned and made to fit a range of different-shaped baths or shower trays, including corner baths and quadrant shower cubicles. The design of the upper side, which you sit, lie or stand on, can differ for aesthetic appearance or functionality, but it’s best to choose one which offers maximum slip resistance. Some are marketed as having a ‘pressure relieving’ upper surface, usually incorporating air-filled pockets, but surefootedness should be your main consideration.
Bath mats also vary in length, some shorter ones designed just to sit on and others to run the full length of the tub or even up onto the incline where you lay back and relax. Some of these might even incorporate a pillow or neck rest. As well as guarding against slips while getting in and out of the bath, a good anti-slip mat will also stop you sliding down once lying in the tub, and even add a degree of extra comfort.
Look for an anti-slip mat with:
Many are also machine washable, which is handy if they get discoloured mould spots on them after being used for a while. An alternative to a mat are anti-slip discs or strips which stick more permanently with powerful waterproof adhesive to the floor of your tub, shower tray or wetroom.
You can also use an anti-slip mat or rug on the outside of the tub or shower tray, ready to step onto as you get out, dripping wet. These special bathroom mats are either rubber-backed or use suction cups to prevent them from moving as you step onto them. There are also wooden slatted versions, but make sure you get one with slip-resistant feet.
Adaptive toilet seats
If you struggle to sit down and stand up easily from the toilet seat, there are several options open to you. Possibly the most visually appealing (but also most expensive) is to replace your current toilet with a ‘comfort height’ toilet. These stand four or five centimetres taller than a standard toilet, making it a little easier to lower or raise yourself, especially if you’re taller. However, replacing your toilet will involve some disruption and expense.
A quicker and cheaper option could be to install a raised toilet seat on your existing toilet. These deeper seats can add around four inches (10cms) of extra height to your toilet. They come in various designs – some will clip to your existing toilet seat while others replace it altogether.
Materials also differ, ranging from rigid plastic (often contoured for extra comfort) to padded versions, made of dense foam under a waterproof vinyl cover. Whatever type you choose, make sure you get one which will fit securely to your toilet and not move around while you are sitting on it or getting on and off.
Some more complex raised toilet seats have built-in armrests, giving you something to grip and steady yourself as you lower yourself onto the toilet and to push against as you stand up. These cost a little more, but have obvious benefits and some also include a backrest, providing extra support and comfort.
Another alternative is to install a toilet frame around your existing toilet, perhaps in combination with a basic raised seat. These sturdy frames again provide something solid to grip onto when sitting down onto the toilet or standing up off it, taking some of the strain off your legs. They are a boon to anyone who struggles to stand up unaided.
While you might not instantly care for the look of some of these toilet adaptations, you’ll soon come to appreciate their functional advantages. Above all, they provide an enhanced level of safety in the bathroom – something which transcends appearance and is hard to put a price on.