The National Council on Aging reports that falls are the leading cause of injuries among elderly Americans. And every 19 minutes, an elderly American dies from injuries sustained during a fall. The bathroom is the most dangerous place in the home for elderly Americans. As it’s the room where fatal falls are most likely to occur.
There are simple changes that will make the bathroom a safer place for the elderly. Some of the changes are good “do-it-yourself” projects. But one suggestion requires the help of a plumber or professional plumbing contractor.
Let’s start with a few things you can easily do on your own.
Non-slip mats in the bathroom reduce the risk of taking a fall. They’re relatively inexpensive, easy to obtain, and simple to put into place.
For inside the tub or shower, make sure the mat has a non-slip surface. That allows the mat to stay firmly in place, even on the wet surface of the tub or shower.
A non-slip mat is a necessity for any elderly person. Falling while standing in the tub or shower is one of the most common falls suffered in the bathroom. But these falls are preventable with a good mat in place.
Non-slip mats (or rugs) are also good for areas outside of the tub or shower. One good spot is in front of the shower or tub. It will prevent people from falling as they exit the shower or tub. In front of the toilet or sink are also good areas for placing non-slip mats (or rugs).
The bathroom is dangerous because wet tiles are slippery when wet. Non-stick surfaces go a long way in preventing falls in the bathroom.
Some elderly people struggle with poor balance. And this problem can make getting in and out of the shower or tub dangerous. You might think towel bars can get the job done.
It’s true that some elderly people do rely on towel bars to remain steady in the bathroom. But towels bars are designed to support towels – not people.
Grab bars belong in places that are easily within reach. Popular locations include next to the bathtub, inside the shower, on a wall close to the shower, or next to the toilet.
These bars work best for elderly people with good upper-body strength. If a person doesn’t have enough strength, they’ll have trouble gripping the bars. Bars installed in the bathroom should also offer slip-resistance. It also helps to choose bars that are highly visible, for people who have failing eyesight.
Some grab bars have suction cups that attach to the wall, but bolted-on grab bars are the safest option. Bars with suction cups can possibly slide down the wall or completely come loose. The last thing you want is for someone to grab the bar for safety, and the bar moves out of place.
Your local Winston-Salem home improvement store should have a selection of bathroom grab bars. You can view the different types available, and decide which style is best for your situation.
Grab bars are an inexpensive way to improve bathroom safety. And it’s one bathroom upgrade that doesn’t require the expertise of a specialist.
Transfer Benches or Shower Chairs
A shower chair is a good choice for seniors who have a difficult time maintaining balance in the shower. Instead of being forced to stand, the shower chair makes it possible to enjoy a shower while sitting down. It’s also a good resting place for people who might get tired while showering.
Avoid using a chair that’s not specifically for use in the shower. A good shower chair has rubber tips on the legs. These non-slip rubber tips prevent the chair from sliding and slipping around in the shower.
A bathtub transfer bench is similar to a shower chair. But it helps seniors who have a difficult time stepping over the tub. The bench sits outside of the tub. The senior sits on the bench, and then gradually slides over into the shower area.
The next suggestion isn’t a do-it-yourself project. You’ll definitely need help from a plumbing contractor or professional plumber.
A walk-in-bathtub removes the risk of falling while getting into or out of the bathtub. This type of tub has doors. Simply open the doors, walk into the tub, and sit down. There’s no need to climb over a dangerous tub ledge to get into the tub.
A walk-in-bathtub has a watertight door that prevents leaks. The tub fills with water after the bather walks into the tub and closes the door. And when the water drains away, the bather simply walks out of the tub.
There are different sizes and models of walk-in-tubs. You’ll certainly find a style that fits your needs.
A walk-in-tub is a big project. You’ll need to contact plumbing specialists who are experienced with installing walk-in-tubs. It’s certainly an investment, but well-worth the time and money to create the safest bathroom possible.
Winston-Salem residents can contact Bodenheimer Plumbing Services, Inc. to discuss walk-in tub or walk-in shower installation. We can discuss your needs and explain exactly how the installation process works. Contact Bodenheimer Plumbing Services, Inc. now to discuss how we can make your bathroom a safer place.