The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house. In fact, 80% of all falls in seniors occur in the bathroom.
You may be wondering how one of the smallest rooms in the house could be considered the most dangerous. The combination of a slick and confined area with a lot of hard surfaces can be a recipe for disaster.
Bath safety is not something to be taken lightly. Severe 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, making a bathroom safe can be done by taking the right steps.
With January being Bath Safety Month, we’d like to share with you some useful safety tips for you and your senior loved one.
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.
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 Primrose Care, 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.
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 Primrose help you get that peace of mind.
Primrose can also help your senior loved with safety around bath time. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home inspection. Our experienced team can offer safety recommendations and help your loved one with all of their bathroom needs. Call us at (435) 787-1369 or visit our website to see how we can best meet your senior loved one’s needs.