How could something that’s so comforting and relaxing, like a nice, warm bath, be one of the greatest dangers to seniors? The truth is, combining slick surfaces, slippery shampoo and very warm water create a number of potential hazards to seniors, especially the danger of falling – one of the most severe risks to older people.
January is set aside as National Bath Safety Month, and it’s a great opportunity for both training and assessment in bathroom safety for seniors.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that about 370 people of all ages suffer tub or shower-related injuries every single day in the USA. Because most falls in the home occur in the bathroom, AARP recommends taking the following preventative bathroom safety measures:
- Put in grab bars for the toilet, shower, and tub
- Install non-skid tile or use non-skid bath mats
- Adjust temperature of the home’s hot water heater to 120 degrees F or less to prevent scalds
- Provide a transfer bench to get in and out of the bathtub if susceptible to falling when stepping over the tub wall
- Provide a bath chair to allow bathers to sit while bathing
- Apply no-slip strips to the bathtub and shower floor, or provide a slip-resistant mat
- Wipe up any water spills on the floor immediately
It’s also a wise idea to assess whether it might be worthwhile for a senior to utilize a mobile commode, which may be put at a bedside to ease nighttime bathroom needs. Bedside commodes can reduce the chance of evening falls, and can additionally be placed directly over the toilet, which is generally sturdier than a raised toilet seat. Features to look for when buying a commode:
- Non-removable armrests
- Rubber tips on the legs instead of wheels
- A frame that is sturdy
- Both a pail (with lid) and a sleeve (for use over the toilet)
Simple, basic commodes can cost anywhere between $60 and $250, although more complex, specialized commodes, such as those that have tilting mechanisms, can run as much as $3,000.
AARP also provides a handy bathroom safety checklist with design instructions which will help seniors and their families make the most appropriate home modification decisions so that they can avoid the potential hazards of the bathroom.
Visiting Angels of Fremont and Sunnyvale can also help with bathroom safety for seniors. We can provide an in-home safety evaluation and suggestions, and by providing expert, hands-on support at bathtime, can help ensure that seniors remain safe throughout all of their bathroom needs. Our care is always delivered with the utmost respect and regard for dignity and privacy. Contact us at 408.735.0977 or 510.284.0000 to learn more.