You may be surprised to learn that your bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house. There are about 370 incidents a day of shower or tub-related accidents, and babies and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
Getting In and Out of the Bath
One out of every 3 adults aged 60 and older have trouble getting into the tub, and getting out can be just as big a challenge. Slippery surfaces mixed with soap, shampoo and warm water can be treacherous and the depth of the tub makes maneuvering difficult.
It may be time to switch from baths to showers, since showers are easier to navigate. All you have to do is step inside. Showers can be made even safer with shower chairs, which circumvent balance problems.
If the draw of the bath is that you can get clean without washing your hair, consider switching the showerhead to a hand-held nozzle which allows for more control.
How hot should a bath or shower be? As we age, skin gets more sensitive and reaction time slows down, so this question becomes especially important. In addition to the danger of burning, hot water causes cracking and dryness, which increases susceptibility to infection.
The bathing temperature should be a degree or two higher than body temperature. If you still feel cold with this temperature, heat the bathroom better instead of making the water hotter. Remember that water that’s too cold can also be dangerous and even lead to hypothermia.
Safety Equipment for the Bathroom
Make your bathroom safer with these accommodations:
- Install grab handles which are made for safety. The shower rail or towel rack you already have is not strong enough to bear the weight of a human being and will break if leaned on too heavily.
- Place a non-slip bath mat in the shower or bath and another one right outside the bath.
- If your hallway is not carpeted, add a fuzzy rug outside the bathroom door to avoid slipping.
- Place toiletries within reach, so you don’t fall trying to reach for them.
- If the lights in the bathroom and in the adjacent hallway are too weak, switch to stronger lights.
- Some seniors may need supervision or help bathing. In that case, it may be prudent to install a spa-style bathtub to make this process easier.
January is National Bath Safety Month. It’s a good opportunity to review the relevant precautions and check whether your bathroom is up to par.
Got any more tips on bath safety? Please share them below.