Bath safety is an increasingly important topic among our seniors and anyone with a mobility challenge. One fourth of Americans over 65+ fall every year and falls are the leading cause of hospitalizations and early deaths. Every year over 235,000 people slip and fall in the bathroom and have an accident. And these accidents can be costly for both our loved ones and their families. It’s our job to educate everyone around us, including caregivers, about the risks and dangers in the bathroom and the safety measures that we can implement.
In addition to making changes to the bathroom, there are other things that seniors and those with mobility challenges can do. Make sure to have your eyes checked periodically to make sure you can see clearly in and around the bath. Make sure to wear glasses or contacts if you need them when entering the bathroom. Always proceed slowly in the bath and be aware of any medications as certain medications can make people drowsy or dizzy.
The next step is to prepare the space for a safe bathroom.
Removing clutter should be one of the first things you do when you prepare the bath for safety. Look around the space and determine if there is anything that may get in the way of the path to the toilet, sink and bath/shower and if so, remove it or put it away. Remove any cords and identify any tripping hazards such as hairdryers, straighteners and shaving chargers. Watch out for towels draping from towel racks too and tuck these away or take them off of the rack. It’s important to not confused towel racks as towel racks are not meant to add support. Wipe off any water on the floor and make sure the floor and path to the bath are as dry as possible. This is important to prevent slipping.
Install Grab Bars
Grab bars have become increasingly popular in bath safety. Grab bars can be installed in and around the bath or shower and around the toilet as well. We recommend taking this one step further and removing towel racks and replacing them with grab bars. Towel racks can mistakenly look like grab bars. Add grab bars around the walls of the bathroom leading into the bath or shower. These great safety devices are not usually meant to support the full weight of the user but they are a great support addition in any bathroom. Grab bars come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some smaller and more compact and others much longer. Grab bars are increasingly being offering in chrome and polished metal to compliment the design of bathrooms.
Non-Slip Bath Aid Accessories
Why stand when you can sit? Frankly just standing up in the shower is a slipping hazard. Make sure to have a shower mat with a grip on it. Also opt for a shower chair, bath bench or stool so you can sit and relax while in the bath or shower. A stepping stool is a great accessory to allow the user to more easily get into the shower, effectively creating a mini step to enter the bath. Also wearing sneakers and shoes into the bathroom and taking them off at the last second before entering the bath is a great way to have foot support and grip on the floor up until entering the bath.
Bath safety is an important but sometimes uncomfortable topic. The bath is an intimate area and making changes to the space can be difficult. People who have lived in their homes for long periods of time may find themselves reluctant to make changes to spaces as personal and important as the bath. Often these changes may need to be encouraged by the caregiver or family member. Setting up a plan, starting with preparing the space for safety and installing basic bath aid accessories is crucial to maximize the safety for our loved ones.