How To Resolve 4 Common Safety Complaints Made By The Elderly

It is well known that the elderly tend to be more fragile and weaker compared to the general population. They also tend to have more hospital admissions related to the accumulation of multiple health conditions that sometimes need acute medical management.

Hospital admissions can often leave seniors even deconditioned with weaker muscles and poor stamina for walking or engaging in their personal care activities. This article will highlight some common complaints made by the elderly and will suggest some options to help resolve them.

Problem #1 – Having a hard time getting out of the bathtub

Most seniors are able to step into the bathtub and slowly lower themselves in. However, once they finish bathing, some encounter difficulties with trying to get up from the bathtub. 

Additionally, many bathtub surfaces are slippery when wet and this could pose a health risk if one were to fall. 

Possible Solution

Various strategies can be implemented to help you get out of a wet bathtub. Applying safety treads to add non-slip traction to the tub floor is one way to make it easier to step out.

You can also add grab bars on nearby adjacent walls to allow someone to pull themselves up into standing. If grab bars are placed in the right location, they can also help someone hold on for support while stepping in and out of the bathtub.


Usually if these strategies do not work, alternative personal hygiene options need to be explored such as showering or sponge bathing either at the bedside or bathroom sink. However, if one continues to wish to enjoy the soaking feeling of a bathtub, they could explore assistive devices such as a bath lift or consider more costly renovation work to install an enclosed step in tub.

Problem #2 – It is hard to climb or descend stairs.

Seniors that have mobility difficulties usually also have trouble climbing a full flight of stairs. This can be caused by medical conditions and physical limitations resulting from things such as muscle weakness or difficulty with getting enough oxygen to the lungs or bloodstream. 

Even with employing strategies like mini breaks or assistance from a caregiver, climbing stairs remains a high energy consuming activity. If one were to not have the necessary energy to finish climbing, being stuck half up the stairs could put one at a significant risk of falling, injuring themselves or worse.

Possible Solution

Seniors that have difficulty with stairs may need to adjust their living circumstances. If one lives in a multistorey home, they may need to be set up on the main floor to avoid climbing stairs.

Some common strategies that can help the elderly with stair climbing trouble can include:

  • Relocating to one primary floor for most of your day to day activities.
  • Participating in a physiotherapist guided exercise program to improve strength, endurance and balance.
  • Incorporating mini breaks while climbing stairs or more lengthy rest periods of sitting on a chair if there is a staircase landing is large enough to accomodate.
  • Utilizing an assistive device such as a cane for additional support.
  • Having access to an available caregiver who may assist with climbing the stairs.
  • Installing a stair glide along the stairs or a lift somewhere in your home if space allows.
  • Moving into a bungalow or apartment where all essentials can be set up on a main accessible floor.
  • Installing an additional hand railing to use one’s upper body strength to support climbing or descending the stairs.

Problem #3 – It is hard to walk to the bathroom.

There are many causes behind trouble with walking in the elderly population. The reason some seniors may have difficulty with walking is due to age related medical diagnoses, such as heart disease and an underlying lung condition. 

Possible Solution

A common solution to trouble with walking is to use a mobility aid such as a cane or walker. Mobility aids now come in various sizes and have differing purposes.

Through a mobility assessment, typically completed by an occupational therapist or physiotherapist, one’s strength, endurance and balance can be examined. This can determine what degree of assistance or support someone may need with walking.

Furthermore, these rehab therapists can help establish an exercise plan to improve one’s balance, strength and endurance for walking. If trained by the therapist, family and hired private personal support helpers can assist with engaging in any exercises to boost compliance and participation.

With this in mind, the appropriate walking aid can be prescribed to maximize one’s ability to walk longer distances while minimizing their risk of falling. For those requiring higher levels of assistance with mobility, wheelchairs or scooters may need to be considered to help maintain independence.

As well, it is important to note that some medications have side effects that can contribute to a feeling of imbalance and unsteady gait. For this reason, it is important to discuss any symptoms or physical limitations with a medical professional, especially if there is a sudden onset of these issues.

Problem #4 – Having trouble with getting out of bed.

Some elderly individuals have difficulty with sitting up in bed or getting out of bed. This change in body position requires that someone have sufficient energy, strength and balance. Seniors may lack these physical capabilities, especially after a hospital admission that can leave someone weaker.

Possible Solution

The easiest way to make bed transfers more easy for a senior is to utilize a bed rail. This railing is either secured to the bed or is wall mounted and can be pulled on for help with getting up.

Of course this transfer device requires that someone have ample upper body strength in order to support themselves. Fortunately, many seniors retain a good amount of strength in their arms and have good grip. 


However, bed transfers may start to get complicated in stroke survivors that have weakness or paralysis on one side of their body. Furthermore, seniors with advanced medical conditions resulting in a poor ability to control their torso when sitting up or are unable to bear weight when standing may need to consider alternate bedroom equipment for safe bed transfers.