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Elder Care: 7 Bathroom Safety Tips to Prevent Falls & Injuries

visiting angel kneeling near seniorWhen it comes to elder care safety in a loved one’s home, the bathroom is one of the first rooms you should focus on.

According to research by the CDC, persons between the age of 75 and 85 are twice as likely as the average person to suffer a nonfatal injury in the bathroom. For those over age 85, the risk of an injury goes up to more than four times that of the average person. In its report, the CDC noted: “This study found that older adults had the highest fracture rates and were hospitalized most often… Preventing falls and subsequent injuries in this vulnerable older population is critical.”

With this in mind, here are 7 areas where bathroom safety can improve your ability to care for an elderly family member.

  • Install Grab Bars. Grab bars are an indispensable tool for elder care bathroom safety. Grab bars perform two essential functions. First, they give your loved one something to grip and anchor themselves with when moving in/out of the tub or getting on/off the toilet. Second, in the case of a fall, grab bars can help your loved one catch or brace themselves.
  • Prevent Slips. Many falls are caused by slippery surfaces. In order to prevent slips, it is advised that you install non-slip surfaces on the floor of your loved one’s tub or shower. Non-slip decals should also be applied to bathroom tile, which can be just as dangerous when wet. It is also advised that you remove scatter rugs, which are easily to slip on or trip over.
  • Improve Accessibility. Making sure that commonly used items are within easy reach is essential for areas like bathrooms where the risk of slipping or falling is heightened. This is especially important in the shower/bathtub, so make sure that soap, shampoo, conditioner, towels, and any other bathing items are within easy reach.
  • Remove Obstacles. Bathroom safety can be improved by removing items that are easily tripped over. One of the biggest risks for the elderly is tripping over the side of their bathtub. Installing a walk-in shower or walk-in bathtub can prevent this from occurring.
  • Reduce Risk of Over-Exertion. Many injuries and falls are caused by over-exertion. By installing a secure bathing seat and a raised seat for your loved one’s toilet, you can reduce the risk of your loved one over-exerting themselves.
  • Improve Visibility. For many elderly people, frequent urination – especially at night – is a common complaint. By installing night lights that illuminate the walkway from the bedroom to the bathroom, you reduce the chance of a fall or injury.
  • Prevent Hot Water Burns. Elderly people have thinner, more delicate skin and can take longer to notice hot temperatures. Because of this, they are often at increased risk of burns caused by hot water. Make sure your loved one’s bathroom taps are clearly labelled and keep hot water temperatures to a maximum of 120 F.

Bonus Tip: Toilet safety is just as important as shower/bathtub safety. In fact, the CDC’s study on elder care bathroom safety showed that seniors are more likely to injure themselves while sitting down on, getting up from, or using the toilet than they are to injure themselves in the shower or bathtub.

Finally, elder care bathroom safety can always be improved by having someone around to look after your loved one. Whether that person is a relative, a friend, or a home care provider – like those provided by Visiting Angels – having someone nearby greatly reduces your loved one’s risk of injury in the bathroom.

If your loved one could use a hand around the house, call Visiting Angels today to learn about our home care services. Our Angel companions can help with personal care needs including bathing, toileting and dressing. We also provide assistance with activities of daily living including meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, and help running errands. We can help your loved one live safely at home.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.