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Aging in Place: Bathroom Safety Tips

Stephanie Struyck Elgin
Author | Shield HealthCare
01/11/18  8:51 AM PST
Caring for Seniors: Bathroom Safety Tips

While it may be one of the smallest rooms in the home, the bathroom can be one of the most dangerous.

According to a 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using national data collected from 2008, it was estimated that 234,094 non-fatal, unintentional bathroom injuries among persons older than 15 years were treated in hospital emergency departments. The study revealed that injury rates occurring in bathrooms increased with age and was the highest for individuals older than 85 years.

According to the CDC’s study, the most hazardous activities included bathing, showering or getting out of the tub or shower. Approximately 80% of these injuries were caused by falls.

When it comes to bathroom safety, individuals, especially older adults, should be aware of bathroom activities that are associated with a high risk for injury as well as the environmental modifications that might reduce that risk. Here are several tips to improve your ability to stay safe in the bathroom.

Install Grab Bars

Ensure you or your loved ones have assistance getting in and out of the tub or on or off the toilet. Installing grab bars in and out of the tub or shower and next to toilets can allow older adults to steady themselves as they transition in and out of the tub or on or off the toilet.

The placement of the grab bar is important. The bars should be in easy-to-reach places to help support balance. They should also be placed at a height that will allow the individual to gain hold without having to reach too far up or down.

Use a Transfer Bench

When getting in and out of the tub, older adults may not be able to lift their leg high enough to make it over the top of the tub. A transfer bench eliminates the problem of stepping in and out of the tub. The individual safely sits on the bench outside the tub then slides over on the seat safely into the tub. The person can enter and exit the tub while remaining seated.

Purchase a Shower Chair

For individuals who have difficulty balancing or standing for long periods of time, a shower chair can make bathing easier by providing stability.

Utilize Non-Slip Mats

Falls can be caused by slippery surfaces. To prevent needless slips on wet surfaces, place non-slip mats or decals on the floor of the shower or tub as well as a non-slip mat on the floor when stepping outside of the tub or shower.

Test Water Temperature

Always check the temperature of the water in the bath or shower before an elderly person bathes. Test water temperature before the individual enters the shower or tub to avoid sudden movements that could cause a fall.

Make Items Accessible

Have towels and clothing ready and make sure commonly used items are easy to reach without having to stretch or bend, including shampoo or other toiletry items.

Eliminate Throw Rugs

Stepping on a throw rug in front of the tub, toilet or sink can easily slide away from underneath the feet. Remove bathmats or throw rugs that could cause slips, trips and falls.

 

Sources:

www.CDC.gov

www.consumeraffairs.com

www.nia.nih.gov

 

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