Bath And Shower Safety, Setting Up a Safe Bathroom
The National Safety Council says that 70 percent of all home accidents occur in the bathroom, for a total of 200,000 incidents documented nationwide annually. It’s a room filled with hard surfaces and sharp corners, offering the potential for slips, falls and even burns.
Caregivers realize that the bathroom is a dangerous place for a loved one if not accessorized properly, or even de-accessorized. Here are some budget-friendly ways to keep the bathroom and shower safe:
1) Remove rugs.
2) Add extra lighting. A nightlight is helpful, and so is lighting the path to the room.
3) Use a higher toilet seat and/or one that lifts, has arms. The industry has evolved with toilet seat options. Many are available to accommodate a variety of needs.
4) Put down anti-slip strips in the shower/tub.
5) Investigate sponge/showerhead options. Long-handled sponges and detachable showerheads are plentiful offerings in stores.
6) Add grab handles throughout. While it may seem handy, a traditional towel bar is not designed to support a loved one’s weight.
7) Put a phone or call button in the bathroom, to be available for emergencies.
Other options may be more costly, but depending on the need, a worthwhile investment. Many built-in tubs are difficult to climb into as we age. While an older adult may like to use the sliding doors for balance, they can pop out, too, if suddenly leaned on too hard. A shower curtain can be better, or remodeling it to be a walk-in, barrier-free area. Stools are also easier to move in and out, twist and turn as needed.
Lowering the sink is another helpful option for increasing bathroom safety. It offers knee clearance for those in wheelchairs. If the sink is located in a built-in cabinet, eliminating the cabinet altogether may be a valid idea.
While on the topic of sinks, a loved one can even slip when turning the sink handles if they are old and tough to move. Gripping is another issue. Dexterity changes as a loved one ages, and simple tasks once taken for granted may prove challenging.
Hot water is a huge risk to a person who gets confused. Water hotter than 120 degrees will cause scalding. This can be a serious problem for anyone, but even more so for a senior with frail, thinning skin. Make sure the water heater temperature is set appropriately.
In addition to having the proper tools in place, bathroom safety involves mental preparation. Bathing may be a big task, and even an emotional one for a person, especially someone with memory loss or confusion. A calm and patient demeanor goes a long way in creating a positive outcome and preventing injury. When in a rush, slips and falls are more likely to occur. One mishap in the bathroom can lead to major medical concerns such as broken bones, skin tears, or worse. As a caregiver, talking a loved one through the process step-by-step is one of the best preventative means for bathroom safety. A comfortable experience can also be a safe one, with some proper accessories and the right attitude.
Today’s Caregiver magazine (caregiver.com), launched in 1995, is the first national magazine for all family and professional caregivers. Each issue includes articles on vital caregiving issues and caregiving resources. Cover interviews include Debbie Reynolds, Dixie Carter, Valerie Harper, Della Reese and Clay Aiken, among many others. © Caregiver.com, Inc.