January is National Bath Safety month which is a great time to outline the importance of making the bathroom safer for aging adults and the whole family.
The slippery-when-wet surfaces of the bathroom can become extra perilous when compounded with the balance and coordination problems we face as we age.
Falling in the bathroom can be very serious. A Center for Disease Control (CDC) initiative call STEADI-Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries – reports that around “…80% of all bathroom injuries were caused by falls, with the highest injury rates in the oldest age groups.” The most hazardous activities were found to be bathing, showering, or getting out of the tub or shower. In 2016 alone, older adult falls resulted in over 29,000 deaths and 3.2 million emergency department hospital visits.
These stats mean it’s extremely important to take safety measures to prevent injuries during these activities. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce the risk of falling, slipping, or tripping, and they are easier and more affordable than you think.
Let’s take a look at six ways to stay safe in the bathroom:
1. Take a Seat
One of the easiest ways to add safety and comfort to your bath time is to install a shower seat or bathtub bench. A bathtub seat is an excellent option for many seniors, as it offers stability while allowing independence. You can sit first, then transfer your legs over the tub edge to avoid the big step in or out of the bath. Some models can be mounted to the wall and fold up and down, and some can clamp to the tub edge for added sturdiness. For showers, wall mounted Folding benches are a great solution in a bathroom that is used by people of all abilities. When it’s not in use, you can fold the seat up against the wall.
Shower chairs with padded arms and back are excellent for people with balance issues. They also mount to the wall and fold up when not in use. Also consider a handheld shower head with a long hose, which allows you to stay seated while bathing.
2. Make Access Easy
It can be especially difficult for many seniors to lift their legs over the side of the tub, as a standard tub is usually at least 14 inches deep, often deeper. The challenging height of the side tub creates a significant trip hazard that can lead to falls. A walk-in shower can make a huge difference in preventing fall risk; they have a 3″ or 4″ curb that is very easy to step over.
3. Stop Slips
STEADI suggests that seniors put non-slip rubber mats or self-stick strips on the floor of the tub or shower. Even better? You can make your entire tub or shower floor non-slip with a product like Solid StepCote Non-slip Coating. The texture feels similar to a find grit sandpaper and it can be used on any tub or shower surface, including fiberglass, tile, porcelain, acrylic, metal, slate, or concrete.
4. Be Prepared
Keep all supplies within easy reach so that you do not have to lean out from the shower or stand up in the bath to reach them. Keep a shower caddy stocked with items such as soap and shampoo, as well as towels on a towel bar close to the shower so you won’t have to walk on slippery damp feet to the linen closet.
5. Prevent Toilet Trouble
The tub or shower isn’t the only place accidents can happen in the bathroom. The CDC study found that many seniors are injured while using the toilet. That’s why the National Safety Council recommends not only adding grab bars at the shower and tub but also beside the toilet. We offer a toilet grab bar that holds tissue as well as a “swing up” toilet grab bar which can fold out of the way if not needed.
6. Cut the Clutter
It’s essential to keep clutter around the tub or shower at a minimum. A shelf and grab bar combo can provide storage space that will help diminish clutter while adding an additional safety measure. Also, be sure to remove any loose rugs that can cause tripping and use double-stick tape to secure your bath mat to the floor.
Accessibility Professionals offer a wide range of Freedom Walk-in & Roll-in Shower solutions with reinforced backing and a 30-year warranty. Visit www.FreedomShowers.com or Contact us to learn more. Share this post and use #NationalBathSafetyMonth to help others make their bathroom safer.