Bathing can be very dangerous for seniors and people suffering from loss of mobility. In fact, nearly 80 percent of falls at home occur in the bathroom for seniors 65 and older, according to The National Council of Aging. Ella’s Bubbles has been in the business of making bathing safer since 2005, manufacturing or distributing walk-in tubs and bath accessories. Following these tips may help decrease the risk of suffering from major falls and injuries.
1. Install grab bars
Grab bars designed to support weight are a necessity for seniors with poor balance and people with mobility difficulties. These bars are best for those who still have good enough upper-body strength to grip the bar while standing up and moving around. Bars should be installed in locations that can aid in getting in and out of the tub and are easy to reach.
2. Install a walk-in bathtub
Walk-in tubs are quickly becoming the standard for safer and more comfortable bathing. Equipped with removable swinging doors and constructed from high grade acrylic with textured slip resistant floors, walk-in tubs not only make bathing safer, they also make it incredibly comfortable. Unlike shower chairs and transfer benches, walk-in tubs allow bathers to sit submerged in warm water as they relax.
3. Use an accessible shower stall with a slide-in transfer bench
Accessible shower stall transfer benches are a great way to lower the risks of slip and falls while using the shower to bathe, and make it so that seniors do not have to sit on the tub floor, which can make standing up very difficult. Accessible shower stalls with benches are great for accommodating the use of a wheelchair, since there is no barrier or a very low barrier to enter the stall. This can help those with mobility issues with entering the stall and exiting after bathing.
4. Place non-slip mats on floors
Non-slip mats allow seniors and people with mobility difficulties to move around the bathroom easily and lower the risk of slips and falls. For inside the tub or shower, mats that can cling to the bottom and have non-slip surfaces that should be placed in the in the center where feet are most likely to make contact. Non-slip mats or rugs should be placed on the bathroom floor, where water is most likely to collect from splashing and dripping off the body.
5. Change lighting
Changes to the bathroom lighting can help increase visibility and, in turn, the level of safety. When lighting conditions are not optimal, the risk of slipping and falling increases simply due to the lack of visibility. Nightlights can help increase light in places lower to the ground inside and outside of the bathroom. Also consider fluorescent bulbs as they produce bright light that can increase visibility. And consider the color that walls are painted. Avoid darker colors; using brighter colors in the bathroom can help increase visibility in places that light has a harder time reaching.
6. Place essential bathing items within easy reach
Toiletry items should be placed within easy reach to prevent over-extending and straining. Trying to reach for soap or shampoo that are too far away can cause muscle strains or worse; loss of balance that could cause a bad slip and fall. Install a shower caddy that places toiletries at the right height. Always try to avoid suction cup caddy models, as they can easily fall off the wall and spill their contents onto the tub floor, which would cause another unwanted obstacle. Mount dispensers for soaps, shampoos and conditioners. There are affordable models available that are easy to install.
7. Water temperature control
Water temperature can be a problem due to the risk of scalding. Burns from high water temperature can cause severe and painful burns. Consider reducing the water temperature of your heater’s thermostat to reduce the risk being burned by hot water. Some tubs can also be equipped with scald prevention valves. Ella walk-in tubs can be equipped with a Thermostatic Control Valve, which eliminates the risk of water temperature fluctuation by regulating the temperature of water before it exits your faucet.
8. Regular cleaning
Routinely cleaning showers and tubs of mildew, soap scum and other dirty build up can help increase safety by reducing slippery coatings that form from these substances. This also assures a more thorough cleansing of the body. Another aspect of cleaning is to avoid clutter in the bathroom, as it can hamper mobility by adding obstructions. Throw away things like empty shampoo bottles right away to avoid tripping over them.
9. Install a telephone in the bathroom
In the unfortunate event that there is an incident in the bathroom, having a phone nearby can ensure that help can be reached quickly. This can be life-saving for seniors or people with mobility issues that live alone. Medical alert devices are also a great alternative that can be used, just make sure that the device is waterproof.
10. Handheld shower head
Having a shower head that you can hold and control with your hand can make it easier to clean and rinse hard to reach spots for seniors and people with mobility loss. Whether sitting or standing, without the control of a handheld shower, one may need to strain to reach certain areas with water and that greatly increases the risk of falling or injury.
Ella’s Bubbles offers a range of models that can fit into most home bathrooms. Ella’s also designs walk-in tubs equipped with a wide range of safety features such as grab bars, internal lights, non-slip floors and handheld shower heads.
To learn more about safer bathing in a walk-in tub visit EllasBubbles.com.