Each year, 235,000 Americans make an unexpected trip to the emergency room because of a mishap in the bathroom. More than two-thirds of these injuries take place in or near the bathtub or shower.
Slick floors, hard surfaces, and sharp countertop corners make bathrooms a dangerous and unforgiving place for seniors to experience a fall.
January is National Bath Safety Month, making it the ideal time to perform a bathroom safety review with a senior family member or loved one. Use this guide to identify potential hazards and install additional safety precautions to prevent accidents before they happen.
Keeping things tidy is one of the easiest – and most important – steps you can take to help seniors avoid bathroom falls. Most bathrooms are relatively cramped spaces already, and additional clutter makes navigating this space even more challenging.
The bathroom floor must be free of clothing and other objects that might cause a senior to stumble. Even certain bathroom décor items may pose a hazard. Countertops should be clear as well, with unused items stored away.
Keep Necessities Accessible
While it is essential to clear out clutter, accessibility must also be a priority. Older adults should be able to reach items they need and put them away again without having to stretch or bend. If existing shelves or drawers are inaccessible, there are many affordable and versatile storage alternatives available online.
Accessibility is especially important when bathing. Often, people keep shampoo, conditioner, soap, and other products along the edge of their bathtub or shower. Not only does this pose a fall risk for seniors as they enter and exit the shower or bathtub, bending down to reach these items can cause them to slip. As an alternative, consider purchasing a shower caddy to hold these items or even dispensers that can easily be mounted to the wall. Either option ensures that products are both out of the way and easy to reach.
Install Grab Bars in the Bathtub or Shower
Many seniors depend on towel bars to keep their balance getting in and out of the bathtub or shower. But these bars are meant for hanging a towel to dry, and they are not intended to hold more than a few pounds. Using them as support in a slippery bathroom is a disaster waiting to happen. Grab bars are an excellent and economical alternative to help older adults maneuver in and around the shower or bathtub. They can also be installed near the toilet to aid with leverage and balance.
Grab bars come in many different shapes and sizes but beware of any version that uses suction cups to attach to the wall. These regularly come loose an cand slide down the shower wall and can increase the risk of injury. Wall-mounted grab bars are a much safer and sturdier option. Before installing, be sure to observe where your senior loved one is placing their hands for support as they enter or exit the shower. That will be where you want to install these new fixtures.
Raise the Toilet Seat
Many older adults find it challenging to lower themselves down onto a traditional toilet seat as they age. An elevated toilet seat can make it easier to transfer on and off the toilet.
There are various elevated toilet seat models on the market. It’s essential to install the right one to prevent falls and other accidents in the bathroom. Consult with a doctor or healthcare provider to determine which version your senior loved one needs, based on the space and their current mobility.
Add Non-slip Strips to Shower or Tub
Replace bulky bath mats with non-slip textured strips in the bottom of the tub or shower. The suction cups on the bottom of most bathmats can come loose and slide around in the bottom of the shower or tub, creating another fall hazard. These strips adhere directly to their floor, and the texture provides seniors with the extra grip they need to stand on a stick surface.
Invest in a Shower or Bath Chair
Shower and bath chairs provide older adults with the stability they need for safe bathing in an area that can be quite slippery! There are different options to accommodate specific needs. Some are simple stools, which can be an excellent choice for older adults still able to get in and out of the tub or shower independently. Other versions are extended on one side to help seniors transfer into the tub more easily. Again, it’s probably best to consult with a doctor or healthcare provider to determine which version your senior loved one needs.
Hire A Caregiver
To ensure safety in the bathroom, the assistance of a caregiver can be invaluable. Intrepid USA offers in-home care services that can give you peace of mind when it comes to keeping your senior loved one safe from unexpected slips and falls. To learn more about these services and how we can help, contact your nearest location today.