Safety in the Bathroom for Seniors
From brushing our teeth to washing our hands to enjoying our morning shower, trips to the bathroom are an essential part of our everyday lives. In fact, for most of us, it’s such a regular routine that we probably don’t even think twice whenever we step into the bathroom. But in fact, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the home for more vulnerable members of the household – namely, the elderly and seniors.
Bathroom falls and accidents pose one of the most severe risks to the elderly at home. The combination of slick surfaces, slippery shampoo and very warm water creates several potential hazards to our elderly loved ones. Therefore, it is important to always make it a safe place for all ages and take simple precautions to keep everyone out of danger.
Why do Seniors Keep Falling, especially in the Bathroom? They are slippery, have sharp edges, and because of this, falls can lead to serious injuries and even accidental deaths. In fact, 30% of adults aged 65 and above who suffered bathroom injuries experienced fractures.
Falling in the bathroom is not just a matter of slipping in the bathtub or shower. Simple actions like sitting down, using, or rising from the toilet comprise the third most likely cause of bathroom injuries among seniors. This is followed by getting out of the bathtub or shower. This threat of falling can affect your independence as you may be forced to live with a caregiver.
There are also chronic conditions like heart disease, dementia and low blood pressure that can cause the elderly to have falls. These conditions usually cause dizziness, poor vision, and muscle weakness and there are many other health conditions that cause falls to happen. These falls can hurt your quality of life and you can develop a fear of falling and and curtail otherwise enjoyable activities.
Some of the reasons why your bathroom could be hazardous include the following:
- Water and condensation can make the floor slippery.
- Elevated steps in a walk-in shower can cause accidental tripping.
- Soap, shampoo, and other personal hygiene products that can drip onto the floor in the bath and shower, which create a slip hazard.
- Open floor plans have no graspable handles to steady and support an elderly’s weight.
- The need to bend, reach, and lift your feet can cause you to lose your balance and fall.
- The need to switch between standing and sitting positions which may exacerbate any balance or mobility issues you may have.
What are some recommendations on how you can make your bathroom safe?
- Add non-slip surfaces and grab bars inside and outside the bathtub and shower. To avoid a nasty tumble, these are a must. Rubber non-slip mats inside a tub or shower and outside reduces the risk of slipping. Grab bars are great in assisting you to navigate into and out of your bathtub and shower safely. Install grab bars next to the toilet for added support as they eliminate the likelihood of you grabbing on to a less solid towel bar to adjust your balance.
- Install a shower stool. The ETAC Sweden shower stool edge from iElder.Asia is a three- legged stool which is safe and fits well in smaller spaces or shower corners. It has generous seating areas with softly rounded shapes and a non-slip surface to make sitting comfortable and safe. For the elderly, this can prevent unnecessary accidents. The responsive, non-slip ferrules adapt to the floor and provide stability on wet and uneven surfaces. With regards to stability, the legs of the stools are angled outwards for increased stability. You cannot feel safer than that.
The Etac clean commode chair with wheels is safe, secure and extremely easy to operate, thanks to the width of the push handle. The clever design can be seen throughout the entire chair. A perfect fit even over wall-mounted toilets, and the chair is open at the back to facilitate access.
- Light the way and use night lights throughout your home. One of the biggest risks for seniors and the elderly is falling, which becomes an even greater hazard in the dark. Imagine the challenge of having to get up several times a night to use the bathroom. We need proper indoor lighting to age in place and live a safe and independent life. Motion Sensor lighting from iElder.Asia provides a solution as it can be placed in the home so that it lights up the walkway and steps up to the porch and makes it easier to see the lock and the doorknob. This type of lighting can help prevent falls due to tripping hazards or sharp corners that need to be avoided.
- Don’t place electrical cords across walkways. This is one of the popular reasons why elderly people trip and fall. So, keep all your walkways free and clear.
- Use anti-slip treatment on your floors. The Nano Pro Anti-Slip floor treatment for tiles is a godsend as it ensures a steady, non-slip flooring, minus the extreme slippage that a fresh coat of wax could cause. What’s more, this long-lasting anti-slip treatment will last for an average of 5 years. No hacking needed! The innovative nanotechnology has proven to be 100% effective under wet conditions. It’s eco friendly and nontoxic and so safe for the elderly.
Eye- level Shelves. Shelves should be at eye-level in the bathroom for toiletries, so seniors don't have to reach up into a cabinet or bend down to look inside a vanity to get shampoo, toilet paper, or air freshener.
Repair sidewalks and walkways. Do the necessary repairs to make sure that you reduce the risk of slipping and falling.
Create an Alert System. This is so important and useful especially if you are in the process of a home modification exercise. The alert system will be like a panic button that the elderly can push if a fall does occur.
In addition to the solutions above, it is also important to improve your health to reduce the risk of falling.
Exercise! When you don’t exercise, this can lead to weak legs, which increases the probability of falling. Try light exercises to improve your core strength and balance.
Beware of medications. You should be careful about any possible contradictions across your medications. Some combinations can lead to dizziness and/or drowsiness and increase your falling risk. Get your doctor to review all your medications to lessen the chances of risky side effects and harmful drug interactions.
- Keep your eyes sharp. Poor vision can make it hard for you to navigate your home, especially at night. It is recommended that not only should you keep your home illuminated but have frequent eye check-ups.
Bathrooms can be very dangerous for the elderly or those in fragile physical situations, but they do not have to be. With the right kind of alert system and some key bathroom modifications, anyone can use a bathroom without worrying about seriously injuring themselves because of a fall.
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