“Falls account for more than half of all senior injuries, most falls occur at home, and the bathroom accounts for the lion’s share of the location for these fall,” reveals Giuseppe Castrucci of Laurysen Kitchens, “Aside from the hospital stays and the fact that 20% of these injuries result in death, there’s another problem with unsafe bathrooms. They often mean that seniors have to leave the home they love and move to a care facility.”
If you’re not of the mind that your elderly loved one needs to live in a long-term care facility, it’s best to begin safeguarding your bathroom right away. What steps should you take?
Go with a walk-in tub.
One of the best ways to ensure that your elderly loved one doesn’t slip and fall while taking a shower is to install a walk-in tub. These tubs have doors that open up for easy access inside. That way, a senior who is unstable on his/her feet doesn’t have to worry about the big step usually required to get into a bathtub. Walk-in tubs help to significantly lower the risk of slipping and falling in the bathroom.
“For the senior that really prefers to bathe, walk-in bathtubs can be a great option,” says Castrucci, “If you’ve never seen one, they’re taller bathtubs with a door on the side that can be open and closed (as long as there’s no water in it!) and a seat at normal seat height for a chair. If you can afford it, jets to massage aching legs and feet can be a source of relief.”
Purchase a transfer chair.
For elderly individuals who require wheelchairs to assist them with mobility, bathing can be an especially difficult experience. It can be difficult for caregivers as well. If a caregiver has to help his/her wheelchair user into the tub, it can put a lot strain on his/her back. To help both the caregiver and the care recipient, use a transfer chair.
“The side of a tub will get harder to climb over as legs get weaker with age,” explains Michael Franco of Angie’s List, “One solution is to cut a gap in the side of the tub. Another option is to buy a transfer chair. It allows a person to sit outside the tub and then scoot over and into the shower area.”
Install grab bars.
We’re not entirely sure we’ve ever written a blog about bathroom safety without mentioning grab bars. And why would we? They’re among the most obvious ways to keep older people safe in the bathroom. By giving them something to grab on to – hence their name – grab bars help older adults keep their balance.
“Installing grab bars in the shower and around the toilet can help older people stay steady on their feet,” affirms Franco, “Wall bars should be installed parallel to the ground.”
At LifeCare Mobility Solutions, we proudly offer an array of home bathroom modifications to help elderly people with their basic daily activities. They include oversized or lowered light switches, night lights, grab bars, transfer benches, walk-in tubs, roll-in showers, bath lift chairs and raised toilet seats.