Bathroom Safety for Elderly at Home.
Each year thousands of seniors fall and are injured in their bathrooms. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury in Americans over the age of 65. These falls can dramatically reduce the quality of life of seniors in our families.
It’s a huge problem.
- One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it, according to the American Journal of Injury Prevention.
- Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- In 2013, 2.5 million nonfatal falls among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 734,000 of these patients were hospitalized, according to the CDC.
- In 2013, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, were $34 billion, according to a study in the journal, Injury Prevention.
Many of these falls occur in the bathroom.
- Bathroom sinks and tubs have hard porcelain surfaces. Bathroom tubs and floors are often wet and slippery.
- Bathroom facilities that have been adequate for many years become inadequate as people age.
- As people age, they may use medications more frequently. Some medications can cause balance issues especially when you close your eyes to wash your face or shampoo your hair.
- Bathrooms are often used at night with poor lighting and when people are less alert.
It is said that the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house.
If you have gotten this far into the article it means you are genuinely concerned about bathroom safety. The good news is that most any bathroom can be modified to improve its safe use.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Install a raised toilet with handles or grab bars to assist in sitting and standing.
- Modify the bath or shower to fit the needs of the user.
- Shower chairs, non-slip bath mats, grab bars and hand-held shower heads can assist a person with balance issues. (It’s a good idea to seek the aid of a carpenter for the grab bar installation.)
- Clear the room of clutter and trip hazards like rugs when not in use.
- Make sure that lighting is adequate (especially at night) and the switches are conveniently located.
- If the user is in a wheelchair, you may need to install additional railings around the bath and toilet. You may also need to modify the sink to facilitate its use with a wheelchair.
Additional Info: Shower Chairs with Choices
There are additional bathroom safety modifications that could be made to suit specific needs of the user. The main idea is to keep the bathroom safe and functional. That may mean different modifications for different user needs. An occupational therapist can evaluate the abilities of the user and make suggestions as to the exact changes needed for your bathroom safety modifications.
You may want to consider hiring a professional contractor to redesign and modify your facilities so you can have the best/safest floor-plan possible for your loved one. Check with the Better Business Bureau before you hire anyone and then consult with a physical or occupational therapist to help you design your final plan.
Your thoughts are welcomed