You or a loved one has fallen in the bathroom, on more than one occasion. It’s scary, not to mention dangerous.
So, beyond the distress the bathroom falls cause, is the concern of what to do to help. Reports indicate the bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in our homes – this is not surprising. (Look around in there: water everywhere, glaring white fixtures, often a smaller space, a standard tub with a wall to step over, a toilet to sit down on, likely a rug or mat, electrical items – like hair dryers, or space heaters perhaps — so we can see lots of potential hazards for the frail, challenged or elderly.) So after seeing your healthcare provider or taking your loved one to see theirs, you start to evaluate the bathroom with the goal of removing or addressing potential hazards.
What to do
Where do you start, you wonder?
Lots of information is available online, from Senior Communities in your area, or from senior or elder resource organizations (like AARP, Changing Aging) so seek out advice. There are checklists available to use as an evaluation tool in determining what you can improve in your bathroom for yours, or your senior’s safety.
Here is some of the best advice and suggestions we’ve seen to help make your bathroom safer:
Check your water heater setting: Young children and elders have thin skin in common, so are more susceptible to hot water temps. Experts say to lower the temp to below 120 degrees to help prevent scalding.
Replace knobs with levers: Levers for water flow at sinks and showers are easier for Elders to adjust than a knob that has to be gripped; especially if the knob is too large to be gripped fully.
Don’t lock the door: Seems like odd advice as most of us an in the habit of keeping our privacy in the bathroom. Experts say to advise Elders not to lock the door in case of an emergency and someone needs to assist.
Use non-slip strips in the shower or tub: Providing a non slick surface is a MUST if you or your Elder is stepping into a tub or shower.
Evaluate the bath or shower: Having a shower with no (or low) threshold is ideal. Or purchase a tub with the easiest entrance possible.
Lastly our research and experts tell us to: do your homework regarding safety modifications for ourselves or loved ones when it comes to bathing, toileting and general bathroom assistance. Not all products marketed as a bathroom assistance product will do the job to your satisfaction.
Not all are created equal
For example: Grab bars: be certain it comes with or has the ability to be installed in such a way that it will be weight bearing around the toilet and bath. Otherwise they are “assist bars”.
Is any Toilet assist device ergonomically assisting you or your loved one onto or off of the toilet? Forward then up is more ergonomic per therapists.
Specialty side entry or walk in tub: experts caution against a narrow door that swings in which must be stepped up into – that style defeats the purpose they say. A wide, outward swinging door with minimal threshold is better. The ideal walk in tub would be a “sit and pivot” side entry style: One with a full length door opening & a cantilevered seat. When it comes to remodeling your bathroom, experts say to hire one that is licensed, bonded and insured for the type of work you’re having done, and to check with family or friends or your local Chamber for any recommendations.
The overall goal
According to experts, it’s also important to remember to keep the overall goal in mind. Safety, care and quality of life for you or your elder needing care. A long hard look at that might result in you and / or your loved one determining the best option is a care community. Having an open and honest a conversation with your senior (your family, yourself, etc…) regarding those goals is the best advice for your wellbeing and that of your loved one.
Thanks for taking the time,