For many persons aged 65-and-over the bathroom is one of the most dangerous spots in the home. A bathroom’s slick surfaces, sharp corners, trip hazards and tight spaces all provide a recipe for accidental falls and serious injuries. For many family caregivers, making a senior’s bathroom safer is an important way to help ensure their at-home independence.
If you’re a caregiver who’s determined to make your senior’s bathroom safer and a less-intimidating place, try these reliable tips from the experts.
How Dangerous are Bathrooms for Seniors?
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), one-in-three persons aged 65-and-over fall at home every year, with a whopping 80% of those accidents occurring in the bathroom. Poor balance, confusion, memory loss, diminished strength and flexibility, and bad vision can all put a senior at risk for experiencing an accidental fall. With that in mind, here are some other sobering facts about the fall dangers seniors face while using their bathrooms:
- Nearly 80% of all bathroom injuries sustained by the elderly are due to bathroom slips and falls (source: www.qisu.org.au/).
- Over one-third of seniors require a hospital admission after being injured in a bathroom fall (source: www.qisu.org.au/).
- Two-thirds of all bathroom injuries occur while in the tub or shower (source: www.cdc.gov).
- According to a University of Michigan study, 70% of all seniors that have a shower stall are currently using one with unsafe features like a glass door, poorly anchored grab bar, or defective tub seat (source: www.med.umich.edu).
As you can see, it’s important to develop a strategy for making your senior’s bathroom safer. Now it’s time to investigate ways to do so.
How to Make Your Senior’s Bathroom Safer
First, identify potential hazards in your senior’s bathroom by viewing the room’s features from their perspective. Try to envision what they go through when toileting, bathing and using the vanity. Does your senior have dementia that makes them easily confused? Do they lack good balance and coordination? Have they gotten scalded recently while taking a bath or shower? Look for ways to upgrade your senior’s bathroom safety features based on these suggestions:
Install grab bars that will easily support their weight while getting in and out of the shower or bathtub. Apply non-skid tape to the tub’s floor, and consider getting them a durable shower chair if balance is a concern. Using a flexible, handheld shower wand with an on/off button is safer than faucet handles, notably when they have arthritis in their hands or use a shower chair. Putting in a walk-in shower is also advisable, but avoid any showers that have glass doors.
Consider replacing their existing toilet with a raised-height model and padded seat to reduce their likelihood of suffering an injurious fall. There are also raised-height toilet seats you can quickly install instead of replacing the whole toilet.
Remove any throw rugs that represent a trip hazard, and place some non-skid strips on the floor in front of their shower or bathtub. Eliminate any other floor-level dangers like protruding air vent covers found in older homes or stepstools.
Hot Water Precautions
Reduce the temperature setting on their hot water heater if needed. Hot water that’s above 120 degrees can badly burn a senior’s delicate skin. There are also special anti-scalding devices and automatic shower controls that can be installed. These devices also include models that fit bathroom vanity faucets.
Many seniors fall in their homes due to poor lighting conditions, especially when their vision is also bad. Therefore, make sure that their bathroom is well lit, and that all light switches are within arm’s reach.
Keeping Your At-Home Senior Safe is Our Priority
Trying to keep your senior loved one safe in their bathroom can be challenging, especially when you live far away. When you need a hand, call Cranberry Home Care. Our highly trained and carefully screened caregivers know how to keep your loved one safe so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. While in the home, our experienced aides can also assist with other duties. These services include things like light housework, bathing, toileting, medication reminders, cooking, transportation and companionship.
And, all our family trusted senior home care services can be flexibly tailored within an affordable package that will put your mind at ease. For more information about making a senior’s bathroom safer, or to schedule a FREE, in-home care assessment with Cranberry Home Care in the Middleboro, MA, area, please visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com now!