Did you know that January is national bath safety month?
Well, believe it or not, it is—and it may just be one of the most important national occasions you’re not observing!
Every year, about 235,000 people visit emergency rooms due to injuries suffered in the bathroom, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Of those cases, more than a third of the injuries happen while bathing or showering.
In particular, it’s important that seniors take precautions to prevent falls in the bathroom; according to that CDC report, injury rates increase with age, and peak after age 85. Similarly, researchers have found that, compared to the overall population, those who are 65 years and older suffer nearly 150 percent more of the accidental, nonfatal injuries that occur in bathrooms.
So what can seniors and their family members do to make the bathroom a safer place? Here are a few tried-and-true bath safety solutions:
Install Support Areas Throughout the Bathroom
In order to help prevent slipping, install grab bars and support benches in strategic spots throughout the bathroom.
For instance, many people install a vertical bar at the exterior of a bath or shower to hold onto while stepping in or out, according to Chicago company J. Blanton Plumbing; placing another angled bar within the bath or shower can provide something to hold onto while maneuvering around in the bathing area itself.
Similarly, you may want to consider placing a shower chair in your tub or shower stall. Having one of these seats in place will allow elderly individuals the ability sit comfortably, and help reduce the risk of suffering a serious fall.
And, while bath safety may be the hot issue of the month, don’t forget about the toilet! Adding grab bars next to the commode can make it easier for seniors to sit and stand when using the unity; you may also want to consider adding a raised toilet seat, which can help reduce the distance that seniors need to rise or squat.
Add Non-Slip Mats Around the Bathroom
Rushing water and gathering condensation can prove slippery and dangerous. To help reduce the risk of slipping, consider adding secure rubber bathmats along the bottom of your shower or tub. You may also want to place nonskid mats along the exterior of the tub, near the toilet, and in front of the sink.
Be sure to keep all of these mats clean—meaning free of scum and mildew. In addition to looking and smelling gross, these unwanted substances can make a mat slippery, posing a danger to anyone with unsure footing.
(While a little off topic, it’s also worth noting that exposure to certain types of mold can cause infections. Blech!)
Keep Everything Within Reach
Look around your bathroom and take stock of how easy it is to reach your bathing essentials. Are towels, bottles of soap or shampoo, toilet paper, and other bathroom must-haves within easy reach?
If not, consider rethinking the layout of your bathroom to make it more senior-friendly. Above all, make sure that everything you or a guest could need is within arm’s length. As we age, our mobility tends to become more limited, and having to reach up or crouch down too often increases the likelihood of slipping or falling.
And while you’re rethinking the layout of your bathroom, . Consider the door, for example: Is it easy to open? Is it wide enough to allow in caregivers, or first responders, in the event of a fall?
You may also want to update the lighting in your bathroom. While mood lighting is all well and good, it’s also important that the path to and from the bathroom is well lit, even at night, and that all light switches are easy to reach.
And now, the Enrollment Specialists would like to know: What are you going to do to make your bathroom safer and more accessible this January?