The bathroom has its pros and cons. Pros in that it is essential for hygienic purposes. Cons, it is a dangerous place. Not that it’s a war zone, no, but a place where your fate could end up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. The slippery floor, limited grasping areas, sharp edges but to name just a few injury inflicting zones.
We are talking about a place where statistics by CDC has it one in three elders fall victim to annually. You may be lucky to leave with just a minor bruise or a scraped knee, but what it luck doesn’t fall on you, we are talking about a twisted cap, fractured knee, or worst case being paralyzed due to injuries sustained on the spinal cord.
Seniors in their old age, without their mobility and strength as before are now left victims to unsafe and fragile measures to prevent themselves from falling. We are talking of towel racks that are not meant to sustain human weight, rugs that when wet can be a death trap, and this is just but a sample of them.
So how do we go about this? What should be done? What should be changed? And most importantly, what should seniors do to prevent themselves from these ugly situations?
Fitting grab bars
One of the cons of aging is that your muscle strength fades gradually, and your stability starts to become shaky. Not that you can help it since one’s body is also aging, and the sharpness you had before is not exactly as it was.
Fitting grab bars can assist in mobility in and out of the shower or bathtub. They are strong poles and firmly fixed to support one’s weight, a plus for those with upper body strength.
A key feature the grab bars should have is it should be rough and non-slippery, the best choice should be one that is not fine polished. This increases the grip surface tension. Thus, one can have a firm grip once they wrap their hand around it.
Shower chairs provide a senior with stability and a resting place especially among those with weak limbs and problems standing for a long time.
The best shower chair for them should have rubber tips on the end of the chair legs to reduce the risk of sliding. They should also be comfortable. After all, the bathroom is a relaxing place, a refuge from daily pressures.
The bath bench was invented with an intent of easing the problem of getting in and out of the tub for seniors. It is more of a transfer strategy. After an enjoyable bath, all the senior has to do is to raise their feet of the tub and sit on the bench. They then slide over the tub out of it. It works both ways.
It is convenient with handheld showers as the senior can just sit and bath freely.
Worth noting is that it should be firmly fixed to prevent any unwanted incidences. It is there to offer assistance not cause havoc.
Another place where people go wrong is using normal rugs and even towels as bathroom rugs. This poses a great risk to not only seniors but also everyone in general. They are slippery when wet.
Non-slip mats (decals) are ideal for use in bathrooms, especially when getting in and out of the shower or tub. It has a strong grip (rough surface) and can reduce these slips.
Non-slip adhesive strips can also be placed in bathtubs and shower floor surfaces. They provide stable footing for them when entering the shower.
Handheld shower heads
Handheld shower heads are favorable for seniors for many reasons. They are quite flexible for starters. Thus, seniors can shower while seated (shower chairs). Having in mind their strained mobility, it makes showering much easier for them compared to having to stand every time to turn on and off the faucets.
Raised toilet seats
The lower limbs (legs) in most cases are the most affected by age. Walking becomes a little bit of a challenging. Let’s not even get started on raising and lowering oneself in a chair. The Same case applies for a toilet. It becomes a little bit of a challenge to rise up from a toilet seat.
Having a raised toilet seat is a good way of curbing this challenge. About 3-4 inches raised toilet seat reduces the squatting needed.
Adding grab bars to a toilet, provides an added safety, just to be safe.
Keep it lighted
Is the pathway to the bathroom not of help? Pretty dark especially at night. Combine this with the strained visibility of most seniors, then falling won’t much of news. Put nightlights or even motion lighting for seniors along the pathway so that even during the night toilet breaks, they are more than safe.
Add an extra lighting to the shower area to bolster visibility while showering. After all, he or she won’t be taking a shower in their reading glasses.
Third party security
At times, despite the many measures put, some falls just happen not be evadable. Probably a lapse in concentration or those meds one takes gives him or her some dizziness effects. Just to be on the safe side, it is advisable to have another person, definitely someone you trust to stand by for safety supervision. They can offer help when getting in and out of the bathtub.
Water resistant medical alert system
The medical alert system is another way of ensuring third party security in the event of a fall. With the rapid evolution of technology, it is not a wonder to have electronic devices working in water. The push button pendants are waterproof, hence are still functional inside the showers. In the event of an emergency, you just press the button, either on your wrist or neck and help is guaranteed to come your way.
This especially is a must have for seniors in the current world who prefer living in isolation in their homes.
Other friendly tips that one can consider;
- Use of non-slippery tiles and skid-proof surfaces in the bathrooms
- Ensure toiletries are within their reach in the shower or tub
- Ensure the faucets are easy to turn on and clearly marked. This is especially for those affected by arthritis
- Remodel their showers to spa-like walk-in showers or curb-less showers.
- Ensure the bathroom door can be unlocked from both sides. This is to offer him/her privacy and at the same time allow entry in case of an emergency.
The bathroom can be a safe place for seniors once such measures are undertaken. Despite seniors insisting of staying in isolation, it is still recommended to have a caregiver somewhere nearby just in case. Seniors can be stubborn at times but in the long run, it is their safety that comes first.