Slips and falls in the home are the biggest cause of injury for adults over age 65, and when you factor in that more than 250,000 individuals suffer falls in the bathroom, it can be a dangerous place for the elderly.
For the elderly, a slip or fall in the bathroom or shower can lead to broken bones and in rare instances, death. Consider how often you drop the soap while in the shower. Add loss of mobility to the mix for older adults and your relatives run a high risk of bathroom accidents. The best way to avoid these incidents is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Here are six steps to prevent bathroom accidents and injuries:
Check the safety of fixtures and features: Remove unsafe bathtub and shower features. If there are no grab bars installed, individuals will grab whatever is handy, towel bars, tub fixtures, soap dishes, etc. These fixtures will not provide the stability needed.
Grab bars: Grab bars should be installed on the shower walls and even on the sides of the bathtub itself. Suction handle safety grips should never be used as these typically work themselves free. Handles and grab bars should be securely fastened into the walls and shower area. Test to see if anything that looks as if it could be "grabbed" is able to bear weight.
Dry floors: Keep the floors dry to prevent falls. If the room is not carpeted, you will want to install non-slip bathmats around the room to soak up water and provide a place for sure footing. Don't forget to put one in front of the toilet as well.
Handrails: Handrails should be installed in several locations in the bathroom (and throughout the whole house).
While glass shower doors are decorative, they are not safe. If your aging relative grabs onto the door for support, it might not be able to bear their weight and if the glass breaks serious injuries can occur.
Keep the door unlocked: The door on the bathroom should remain unlocked and be left open in the event they fall and need to call out for help. The best way to enhance bathroom safety is by equipping your aging relative with a waterproof medical alert pendant. If he or she suffers a slip or fall in the bathroom, at the push of a button emergency personnel will be dispatched.
Walk-in tub or shower: If possible, remodel the bath and install a walk-in tub to make it easier for your aging relative to get in and out without having to straddle the side of the tub.
Simple changes such as using liquid soaps rather than bar soaps are also a safer bet for aging individuals.
Just because your parents are aging doesn't mean they can't enjoy the relaxation offered by a soothing bubble bath or a long, luxurious shower, the room simply needs to be made more senior friendly.
With all the worries we are faced with on a daily basis, do yourself a favor and invest in a medical alert system for your loved one.