According to CDC, people over 75 are twice as likely as younger people to have a nonfatal injury in the bathroom. The risk for people over 85 is four times higher. Every year, more than 400 people drown in bathtubs, while thousands fall, which leads to fractures and injuries. There are three main reasons behind this: firstly, seniors have limited mobility, moreover many medicines they take can also cause hypotension or dizziness. Lastly, many surfaces in the bath, such as metal, porcelain, tiles, etc., are slippery, and even with very little moistures on them, they can turn into a skating rink.
You can do a few things to minimize the risk of injury, which might otherwise lead to permanent disability or even death.
Make sure the water isn’t too hot
Seniors are at a twofold risk from hot water. The ability to feel heat decreases with age, and certain medications or neurological damage can further diminish this ability. Besides, older citizens have a comparatively thinner skin, which means even a brief exposure to hot water can result in burns. Therefore, make sure your water heater temperature doesn’t exceed 120F degrees.
Make your bathroom a skid proof zone
The biggest culprit behind bathroom injuries are the slippery surfaces. Some people use non-slip decals to address this, however, they don’t cover the entire bathroom. Your bathtub can be extremely slippery because it stays wet most of the time. Seniors can not only slip while stepping into it but also when trying to get up. A CDC study shows that seniors are more like to fall when sitting down on or getting up from the toilet. In addition to your shower stall, the bathtub and the whole bathroom floor should be covered with a mat and rugs with rubber backing.
Ensure better accessibility
Remove any obstacles that are close to the bathroom door, and ensure adequate lighting. Many seniors will feel the urge to urinate at night; poor lighting can be a significant hazard in this case. Remove anything that can easily be tripped over. Also make sure that the commonly used items such as shampoo, soap, towel, etc. are within easy reach. Consider getting door locks that can be opened from the outside as well, so they can have privacy and caregivers can reach out in case of any mishap.
Install safety fixtures
This can be an extremely beneficial investment as it can help older citizens move around without risk of falling. Consider shower grab bars, raised toilet seats, and non-slip grip tape to help prevent falls. Grab bars are particularly beneficial as they can be used as an anchor point when moving in or out of the shower. Also, grab bars can help you loved senior brace themselves in case of a fall.
If possible, have someone at the ready when your senior is in the bathroom. This can be hard, but you don’t have to stand outside the bathroom all the time. Just make sure you are attentive when they’re in. Seniors with mobility issues might be aided by someone who can assist them with bathing like a caregiver or home health aid. At the very least, they should be assisted in and out of the bath tub to prevent a fall.
Some of these tips are easy while others require more effort, however, they can all go a long way in ensuring the safety of your loved ones and minimizing the risk of injuries in the bathroom.
Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces…the goal is help others “rebel against age”.