The National Institute on Aging states that the most dangerous place for senior citizens and where they feel most vulnerable is the bathroom. Does that surprise you?
80% of falls reported by the elderly occur in the bathroom and the Center For Disease Control And Prevention reports that one in three seniors will experience at least one fall in their golden years. With more and more families looking for ways to allow their loved ones to age in place, it stands to reason that people are looking for ways to ensure shower and bath safety for senior loved ones.
Bath Safety Adjustments
The bathroom can be made safe on a limited budget with just a few simple adjustments. After observing the bathroom and with the senior’s input, you can make the following easy changes:
- Remove the locks on the bathroom door. This will allow them to have their privacy while allowing you easy access in case of an emergency.
- Place non-slip adhesive strips on any tile floor. This will prevent the floor from becoming too slippery when wet.
- Eliminate all throw rugs and keep the floor area as free from clutter as possible.
- Replace the hinges on the bathroom door with special hinges sold by medical supply stores, which open the door width by 2” to enable a patient to enter with their walker.
- Consider raising the toilet seat and attaching side handrails. This will make it easier for the elderly to sit on and get up from the toilet.
- Make any items they will be using easily accessible.
- Consider replacing your existing showerhead with a removable one, or one that can be adjusted to move up and down on a vertical bar.
- Consider covering the faucets and grab bars with foam rubber covers. This will make them less slippery and less dangerous if the elderly land on them in the event of a fall.
- The skin of the elderly is more susceptible to burns. To prevent an accidental burn, consider lowering the hot water temperature to about 120°F, or installing a single lever faucet which is easier to control.
- An automated nightlight will reduce the risk of a fall when going to the bathroom at night.
- Install grab bars and purchase a shower chair or transfer bench.
What Are Grab Bars?
The easiest bathroom improvement you can make to ensure shower and bath safety for seniors is the grab bar. A simple piece of equipment that is installed into a wall, the grab bar provides support to the elderly while they move around performing their daily activities.
There are different types of grab bars that all appear simple in structure, but all are made up of complicated internal parts that ensure their soundness and safety. The grab bars are designed to assist the elderly to be as independent as possible by providing support and stability when they are standing up, walking, or just resting mid-walk, so it must be able to support a person’s full body weight.
Where Are Grab Bars Installed?
Designed to assist the elderly to be mobile and perform activities alone and safely, grab bars are usually installed:
- In the bathroom and shower
- On stairways
- Along hallway walls
- On any wall where the elderly risk falling due to a slippery floor
Practical Grab Bar Tips
When installing grab bars in a home, one needs to put yourself in the shoes of the person who will be using the bars. Most grab bars are installed to assist people who have limited mobility and balance, and who often do not have perfect vision. Bearing these points in mind, the grab bars should:
- Be correctly installed
- Be easy to reach, not too high and not too low
- They should be spaced at regular intervals so that the user will not feel unsafe at any time
- Have a non-slip grip, so that if the users’ hands are wet or sweaty, they do not slide off the bar
- They should preferably be a different color to the wall so that they are visible and easily identifiable
Chairs that are specifically designed to provide support when bathing or showering are known as shower chairs. Although there are many different types of shower chairs on the market, they will typically have the following features:
- They usually have four, aluminum legs with rubberized feet
- They have a durable plastic seat
- They may or may not have back support
- They may or may not have rubberized hand and arm supports
A variation of the shower chair is the transfer bench. Used to assist people with extreme mobility limitations, the bench has two feet outside and two feet inside the tub. The idea is to sit on the bench outside and slide across the bench until you are in the tub, eliminating the need to stand. This is particularly helpful for people who cannot lift their legs high enough over the tub. There are also transfer benches that mount to a bathtub wall and swivel to allow the patient to sit easily outside the tub, then swivel to face the water spout, and slides and locks safely inside the tub.
Affordable Medical Supply Is Here For You
With 42 years of experience, generations have come to rely on our services, and we are here for you too. For all your medical supplies and equipment, contact Affordable Medical Supply Toll-Free: 866-484-7599 or local: 954-484-7599.