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Enriching the lives of those we serve
January Is National Bath Safety Month
While many people are designing their bathrooms as spa-like retreats in today’s homes, a different scenario exists for seniors. A stunning statistic released by the National Institute on Aging indicates that 80% of falls experienced by the elderly occur in the bathroom. Falls can be devastating to this population, resulting in broken bones, neurological injuries, weeks or months in the hospital and rehabilitation centers, and sometimes even death. In fact, a senior dies in the United States every 19 minutes from some type of fall.
Since January is National Bath Safety Month, we are suggesting you take a look at your safety in your bathroom or that of a senior you care about.
Statics show that most falls among seniors occur:
Getting in or out of the tub or shower
Sitting down and getting up from the toilet
Walking across a slippery or slick surfaced bathroom floor
Some environmental hazards that add to the risk of falling in the bathroom include:
Insufficiently secured towel racks that might be used for support
Shower chairs that do not have proper floor grippers
Bathtubs with high sides that are difficult to get in and out of
Sliding shower doors that could move if used for support
Low toilet heights
There are several ways that a senior’s bathroom can be made safer for them, thus reducing their chance of a fall. Grab bars are a simple and inexpensive item that can give much needed assistance getting in and out of the tub or shower. These can also be placed in other strategic locations throughout the bathroom. It is recommended to purchase the type of grab bars that bolt to the wall rather than the suction type. Slip resistant strips or mats on the bottom of the tub or shower also help with stability. Slip resistant bath mats also help protect against falling after getting out of the tub. It is easy to get disoriented or dizzy when showering and washing hair, so shower chairs are a great help when placed in the shower. They also help with people who tire easily and can’t stand well, or for very long periods of time. Slide benches are also available that start outside the tub and the person can sit down and slide themselves into the tub.
Installing a raised toilet seat can help when it is difficult to lower to the toilet and then rise up again. Most have arms on the side to give the person something to push up on to help them get back up to a standing position. It also helps to make sure that frequently used grooming items are in easy to reach locations. Shower caddies are useful, as is shelving low on the wall within the bathroom in easy reach. A room that is well lit can also help prevent falls in the bathroom itself and to and from the bathroom.
If you have the resources to make some more extensive changes to the home, outward swinging doors are a good option in case the senior falls against the door. In this instance, they are not blocking the door keeping someone from being able to reach them. Several companies now make toilets that are higher than conventional models. These help a great deal with weakened leg strength and fit in nicely with the look of your home. Walk-in tubs have become very popular and there are many different models with extra features that make them very comfortable for the user.
If you do your research and put some thought into planning your bathroom modifications, you can help make sure that you or your senior can remain safely at home. Of course, if you need assistance with these daily activities such as grooming, getting ready for your day, meal preparation and laundry we are here to help. Just call us at 800-467-2170 and a case manager will be happy to assist you.