No matter how old we are, most of us enjoy a nice hot bath or shower. Some people like to grab a quick shower first thing in the morning before they head to work or just to feel fresh as they get their day started. Others prefer to take a shower or bath after a hard day at work or in the evening prior to going to bed. After all, the warm water soothes away aches and pains and washes the stress right out of your system.
However, what you may not be aware of is the staggering number of people who drown each year in the bath or shower! Injuries do to slipping and falling in the tub or shower cause hundreds of deaths each year, not to mention the serious injuries that occur.
In general, injuries due to falling are often likely to be associated with seniors who have issues with balance or weakened legs. Thankfully there are a number of ways you can make your bathroom a much safer place.
One of the first things you should do is install bars, commonly referred to as grab bars that will allow you to hold on securely as you step in and out of the tub. You can also install a rail that fits neatly over the edge of the tub. These are available in a variety of styles to suit your needs.
Grab bars are a relatively inexpensive alternative and can be installed in several strategic locations like the shower stall and near the toilet, in addition to the bathtub. You need to make it a point to hold on while stepping in and out of the tub and also while using the toilet. Do not rely on a towel rail to hold your weight – just ask my Dad!
For the people who have serious balance issues, having a tension pole that runs from ceiling to floor installed can give you a lot of added support, as you move around the bathroom. It may look odd to visitors to your home, but a tension pole could prevent injury or even save your life.
If you are very shaky on your legs then you need to buy a bath chair that can be fitted over the side of your tub. Don’t forget that we live in a technologically oriented world and most things are possible including mechanical bath lifts powered by batteries or even water!
Slipping while getting in and out of the bath tub is by far one of the most common causes of falls in the bathroom. One of the simplest things you can buy is a bathmat that goes into the tub and prevents you from slipping.
In our family, when we moved into a two-bedroom apartment we each had our own bedroom and separate bath. Dad’s bathroom happens to be in his bedroom, rather than walking down the hall, and also has a shower only. Maintenance added safety rails by the shower and the toilet area.
Also, he can use his walker to get right up to the shower, and then step in using the sides of the shower entrance and walls to help steady him. This has worked great for us.
If you are able to modify your bathroom, or your parents bathroom, by adding a shower stall or replacing the bathtub with a shower, or even by creating a walk-in bath, that would work out best for your aging seniors. There is added expense, of course, but you may be able to get the help of other family members or friends who have the skills to make the necessary changes to keep your older seniors safe.