Bath Safety Month: Senior Tips

Eighty percent of all falls involving the elderly occur in the bathroom. It’s ironic that a room where people often go to relax, can actually be considered the most dangerous room in the house.

You may be wondering how one of the smallest rooms in the house could also be the  most hazardous. The combination of a slick environment with several hard surfaces can be a recipe for disaster.

Bath safety is not something to be taken lightly. Traumatic injuries can occur from bathroom accidents, including death. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that each day in the U.S., roughly 370 people of all ages are involved in bathtub or shower-related accidents. Fortunately, many of these accident can be prevented. Making a bathroom safe is possible if you take the necessary precautions.

With January being Bath Safety Month, we’d like to share with you some useful safety tips for you and your senior loved one.

Preventing Falls

Falling is one of the most common injuries older individuals will experience in the bathroom. Many older individuals are susceptible to falling for a number of reasons: poor vision, slow reflexes, equilibrium imbalance, dizziness/tiredness from medications, limited mobility, etc. But when combined with an environment like a bathroom (with hard surfaces like tile, granite countertops, and porcelain sinks/tubs), falls can be tragic.  

To prevent falls in the bathroom, first ensure that the room is clean–and any spills or leaks have been wiped away. Also, make sure you have installed grab bars near the toilet, shower, and tub. In addition, lay non-skid bath mats on the floor, and add no-slip strips to the tub/shower floor. This will help prevent any slick buildup. Lastly, provide a shower chair so bathers can sit comfortably, rather than losing their balance while standing. A transfer bench can also be utilized to assist your loved one in getting in and out of the tub.

Water Safety

No matter your age, you should always use precaution when it comes to water safety. More than one third of bathroom related injuries ending in the emergency room happen while bathing or showering.

Ensure your water heater is set to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent any scalds.

In addition, it is wise to monitor the water temperature during bathing to prevent the skin from drying or cracking (which actually increases your risk for infections). The temperature of the water in the tub/shower should be no more than two degrees above the human body’s temperature, where it feels comfortable and your body can adapt to it well. Because some older persons struggle with their judgment to water temperature and have slower reactions, it is best to have someone assist with bath time–whether it’s a family caregiver, or a professional. At Aegis, we have certified nurses who understand bathroom safety and can help assist your loved one with his/her needs.

Water temperature is also an important caution as hot water drives blood away from the internal organs to the skin’s surface, causing cardiovascular risk, and cold water carries blood to the organs, increasing the likelihood of hypothermia.  Even a small difference of two degrees cooler than the body temperature could lead to hypothermia.

Toilet Safety

More than 14 percent of bathroom-related accidents ending up in the emergency room occur while using the toilet. People over 85 suffer more than half of their injuries near a toilet.

A standard toilet is actually quite low to the ground–which can be strenuous on muscles and joints in an aging person. To reduce any fall risks, install a grab bar near the toilet, or use a raised toilet seat.

A bedside commode may even prove to be helpful, especially at nighttime. These commodes already have the necessary modifications and can be placed over a standard toilet. They may also be placed next to the bed in order to help prevent any embarrassing wetting accidents.

Other Safety Precautions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that every year there are about 235,000 people (ages 15 and over) who visit the emergency room for bathroom-related injuries, and almost 14 percent of them are hospitalized. Many of these accidents can be prevented by following the tips mentioned above.

In addition to the tips shared, some other precautionary measures to take are:

  • Ensure shower doors are made of shatterproof glass.
  • Ensure the bathroom is well-lit, and light switches are in an easy-to reach area. Nightlights are also helpful.
  • Loose floorboards should be fixed immediately to avoid any tripping.

 

Safety precautions in and around the bathtub and shower can give you more peace of mind as you continue with your daily routines. Let Aegis help you get that peace of mind.

 

Aegis can also help your senior loved with safety around bath time. Our experienced team can offer safety recommendations and help your loved one with all of their bathroom needs. Contact us today at (480) 219-4790 or visit our website to see how we can best meet your senior loved one’s needs.

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