Low-Vision Bathing: Making the Bathroom Safe for the Visually Impaired

If you can see well, you probably take your ability to use the bathroom for granted. But for people with low-vision, the bathroom can be one of the most dangerous rooms in their home. If you have a family member or loved one who is partially sighted, you want them to feel safe and comfortable in their home. You can use these tips to improve bathroom safety and improve a low-vision area.

Make Use of Bright Colors

Although many people with vision loss can’t distinguish colors, they are often able to detect strong contrast between colors, so you can make your bathroom safer immediately by adding bright colors. Make simple changes like painting the walls in vibrant colors and adding a brightly patterned shower curtain. These will both make a significant difference. Even adding a colorful toilet seat and lid can make it easier for a visually impaired person to negotiate the fixtures in the room. Painting the interior (back) of the bathroom wall cabinet can make it easier to see medicine bottles and other items which are on the shelves.

Install Brighter Lighting

LED lights are brighter than any other type of lighting and can significantly improve low vision. The best places to install them are under wall cabinets, around the bathtub, toilet and shower. This will help make the contours of the room more visible.

Consider Motion Detector Lighting

By adding a motion detector to your lighting system, you don’t have to leave the lights on all night and your visually impaired family member does not have to fumble around for a light switch. The motion detector will turn on the illumination as soon as someone enters the room and off again when he or she leaves.

Use Soft Floor Material

The bathroom is a high risk area for falls, so it’s important to install soft flooring in case of accidents. Rubber mats or thick carpeting can do the trick. Just make sure there are no loose edges that could cause someone to trip and fall.

Think About Faucets

It’s preferable to install single-lever taps on sinks and bathtubs than dual-handle taps. In some bathrooms hot water can very quickly become scalding. Single-lever taps will make it easier for someone who is visually impaired to control the temperature and thus avoid serious injury.

Install a Walk-in Tub

Getting into and out of a bathtub can be treacherous if you’re visually impaired. A walk-in tub can reduce the danger dramatically. There are many different designs to choose from, so you can pick one to suit your family member’s individual needs. Price ranges vary so it’s a good idea to shop around.

Include Safety Rails

Safety rails beside the bathtub or inside and outside the shower can help a visually impaired person get in and out easily without falling. Similarly, you can install one beside the toilet to make sitting and standing safer.

Organize Toiletries

Pump dispensers are invaluable for people with vision loss. They make it much easier for them to measure what quantity of soap or lotion they are releasing. Label dispensers with large print or tactile stickers so they’re easy to distinguish. Using colored toothpaste makes it easier for visually impaired individuals to see how much they are putting onto the brush.

Whether your family member lives in a house or an apartment, it’s important for them to feel comfortable and capable of moving around safely and independently. Even if their loss of vision is only slight, adapting their environment and keeping it well organized will make a big difference.