It’s easy to overlook the many potentially dangerous places inside your house that could cause harm to an elderly loved one. Working diligently and effectively to mitigate the typical risks associated with different areas of your house will not only put your mind at ease, but it could invariably prevent catastrophe from striking.
Bathroom injuries are common even in younger individuals, however, the risk for hurting oneself rises exponentially for those over the age of 65. This is to be expected as the CDC reports that 1 out of every 4 elderly individuals suffers a fall each year. These reported falls range from minor to severe and even deadly.
Keep these essential tips in mind for increasing the safety in your bathroom:
There are metal “grab bars” you can have installed that will help those with impaired mobility or balance problems. Some critical placement ideas for these bars is near the bathtub or in the shower, next to the toilet and right by the door. Stability bars should be in the bathing area as this is one of the most common areas where falls occur.
Falling that is a result of slipping on water and a slick surface is incredibly common. Water is present in practically every area of the bathroom. The bars should be next to the toilet because sometimes squatting to sit on a low toilet can throw off the senior’s balance. This placement idea is one of the most overlooked areas where preventative measures can be put in place. Installing bars near the door can also be helpful in the event unforeseen tripping occurs while exiting the bathroom.
Regardless if you are using a bathtub that doubles as a shower or a stand-alone shower, having a shower mat to stand on is absolutely imperative. The shower and tub floor is notoriously slippery, and when it’s wet, it’s practically an accident waiting to happen.
Shower mats come in all types, textures, and materials and can greatly reduce the risk of injury caused by slipping and falling by providing traction and skid-resistance to the person standing on it. Many of the mats that are on the market can be fastened via suction cup design to the bottom of your tub or shower. Some are even made with their own drainage features and antibacterial material that lessens the occurrence of mold.
It’s vital to have all personal items and needed products within arm’s length of the senior. Any unnecessary bending or reaching is ill-advised and can potentially lead to them losing their balance and falling. A shower caddy is a perfect option because it hangs from the shower head directly in front of the senior.
All the toiletries and necessary bathing products can fit nicely and neatly within reach. The medicine cabinet or a well-placed shelf is a good option for storage of personal items near the sink. Using low cabinets like those under the sink to store frequently used items is a no-no as reaching under there requires bending, stooping, and other positions which may predispose a senior to a fall.
As you get older, the precision and acuity of your eyesight may lessen. Being able to properly see is one of the most fundamental needs that can be compromised with age. Ensure that your bathroom is well lit. Opt for the bright energy saving bulbs that have more burn time and don’t have to be changed as often.
Proper lighting will allow the senior to correctly see what they are doing, where they are stepping and what they may be reaching for at any given time. Ideally, there should be a light above the sink and one directly above the bathtub or shower. If that isn’t the natural light outlay, you may want to consider getting some easy interior lights installed or even make use of a lamp.
Due to the space constraints that are often applicable in many bathrooms, keeping everything decluttered and as clean as possible will help in mitigating any trips or injuries. If you need to hang towels or clothing up in the bathroom, try using hooks on the back of the door or install an additional towel rack for optimum hanging. You don’t want to leave dirty clothes, not even a loose sock, on the floor as it would be easy to slip on or trip over. Try to keep the floor completely unobstructed.