National Bathroom Safety Month
Each year approximately 235,000 people over the age of 15 present to the ER as a result of an injury sustained in the bathroom--of that percentage, about 30,000 of those same individuals are admitted to hospitals for after care or surgery (according to the CDC). Furthermore, a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging in 2017 found that more than a third of our senior
population, over the age of 65, slip and fall each year. And where might you guess those falls primarily happen? In the bathroom, of course.
With having said that, and in light of January being National bathroom safety month, here are a few thoughts and pieces of advice from our team and what we have learned through the years.
First off, we suggest conducting routine assessments of your bathroom. While bathroom safety is not one of those top of mind concerns, as we age, we have to take a moment to assess how falls and injuries can be minimized. One good way to do that is to look at the hazards that are
right in front of our nose.
In the bathroom, consider the lighting--and not just during the day. Many of us make trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Night lights can be helpful so that finding the light switch isn’t so difficult in the dark. We also suggest that for those individuals that are trying to move
about with a walker, install motion sensing light switches. Automatic switches make going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, a breeze. Opting for automatic switches eliminates the need to have to reach for a switch, and that can make a world of difference for someone that is trying to navigate with a walker; they can keep their hands safely planted on their walker, reducing instability and imbalance. For someone dealing with an overactive urinary system, or if Lasix are routinely taken too late in the day, many make several evening trips to the bathroom and lighting makes a big difference.
We also suggest you consider all of trip hazards such as throw rugs, and that the tub's edge that you have to swing your legs over. If you do opt for throw rugs, at least make sure they are rubber backed. Keep in mind, over time, the rubber backing can wear after multiple washes--so make sure to check that they still have grip.
We also suggest to many people that walk-in showers are the safest to use for bathing as we age. There is no climbing and slipping over the edge to have to worry about. These days there are options for walk in tubs with doors that swing and seal; there are also options for stand up showers with built in benches for sitting, or you can opt for a stand alone shower bench so no
stepping is required. We suggest to always be mindful of any bath mats you have in these places too. Sometimes those can be the culprit of falls if they are not secure and cleaned routinely. If not cleaned, soap and mildew can build up and can be a recipe for disaster.
While this last one may seem strange, also consider pets as being trip hazards in the bathroom. We all love that our four legged friends follow us everywhere, but as we get older, the bathroom is an area that maybe Fido needs to be kept out of. Bathrooms aren’t typically the largest of spaces, and as moving about, a trip over Fido can lead to quite serious injuries in that space.
Assistive devices and equipment:
There is a reason grab bars are out there! Bathroom and shower grab bars are great to have installed, but make sure they are the right kind, and set at the right height. Do not purchase any easy to install grab bar that is secured by a suction cup. Those types of bars will do no favors as
the potential for it popping off as you push or pull on it with your full body weight, are high. Make sure that your grab bars are secured into a sturdy surface, fastened into studs or anchors, or even built into the surrounds.
Think about your shower heads too. In many houses, these can be static and immovable. Consider a shower head that can be height adjusted and can unhook from the wall. Reaching and straining to try to move the shower head can be problematic. Opt for equipment that can be adjusted and detached easily.
Benches make life easier too. As we age, we may find that we have weakness being on our feet and being unsteady in a standing shower is no good. Having a shower bench that you can sit on to take a break, or take a shower in a seated position, will minimize a fall. Many seniors also find
it beneficial to have a riser or an over the toilet bench to use as it may get difficult to sit to a low position and get back up due to weakness.
If you have concerns about yourself or a loved one when it comes to bathroom safety, we are happy to provide some expert advice! As always, we recommend that as individuals age, sometimes they are no longer safe to shower or bathe alone. When that is the case, and they require assistance or supervision, sometimes turning to assisted living is a good option. At
Vineyard assisted living we provide daily shower and bathing assistance, as well as, personal bathroom care for any resident that demonstrates need.
Give us a call or stop by to visit today. We would love to share our community with you!
Director of Marketing and Admissions