One of the biggest fears for those aged 65+ is falling in the bathtub or shower. Affecting one-in-four seniors, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries every year. Most of those fall-related injuries occur in the bathroom, and many victims suffer broken bones, hip fractures and head trauma as a result. Unfortunately, many of those seniors never fully recover from those slip-and-fall mishaps and some lose their independence permanently as a result. If you’re an informal caregiver for an aging in place loved one here are some bathing and showering safety tips for seniors that you may want to consider.
Bathrooms Can Be Dangerous for the Elderly
Most tub and shower areas are tight spaces with lots of sharp corners and hard surfaces. Wet bathroom floors are also dangerous, increasing the likelihood for slip-and-fall injuries.
In general, older adults are more vulnerable in the bathroom for age-related reasons like:
- Poor vision
- Mobility issues
- Balance and coordination problems
- Diminished muscle strength
- Slower reaction times
- Cognitive impairment issues including dementia or Alzheimer’s
A senior’s blood pressure also tends to fluctuate when they exert themselves, which can cause dizziness and poor balance. When you combine those balance issues with a wet floor and slippery porcelain tub, you’ve got the perfect recipe for bathroom mishaps.
Creating a More Senior-Friendly Bathroom
Creating a more senior-friendly bathroom for your loved one is possible by taking these steps:
Install grab bars
Wall-mounted horizontal or vertical grab bars can be easily installed to provide your senior with added support when getting into and out of the tub. Don’t forget to also place one next to the toilet and be sure to mount all the grab bars securely into wall joists so they don’t come loose.
Eliminate trip hazards
Negotiating the slippery sides of a tub can be challenging for someone with arthritis or poor balance. Consider replacing their traditional tub with a walk-in bathtub or shower. Also eliminate other potential trip hazards in the bathroom like bathmats, throw rugs or raised vent covers.
Place bathing items within reach
Reaching awkwardly for the soap or shampoo can place an elderly bather in a dangerous position. To keep your loved one safe, arrange their bathing items within arm’s length with some hooks and shelves.
Get non-slip decals
Wet tile and porcelain surfaces are a bad combination in a tight bathroom. Non-slip decals, or bathtub stickers, can be applied to any potentially slick areas, like the floor of the shower or tub- along with the bathroom floor itself.
Beef up the lighting
Age-related vision changes can keep seniors from clearly seeing trip hazards and slick surfaces. Keep your loved one’s bathroom well-lit by installing new energy efficient light fixtures and bulbs.
Older adults can easily get over exerted when performing routine bathing tasks like getting in and out of the tub or standing up in the shower. A sh