You have an awesome responsibility. You are responsible for your own bathroom safety. Exactly how much safety do we seniors need? What exactly are the consequences for not being safe? This guide is to answer these questions and provide a guide to safety in your bathroom.
You need to Shift the Focus From Feature And Price Only To Adding Safety to Your Decisions.
What are the Consequences?
CDC Summary: What is already known about this topic?
- Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among persons aged ≥65 years and the age-adjusted rate of deaths from falls is increasing.
CDC Summary: What is added to the report?
- The rate of deaths from falls among persons aged ≥65 years increased 31% from 2007 to 2016,
- Increasing in 30 states and the District of Columbia, and among men and women.
- Among states in 2016, rates ranged from 24.4 per 100,000 (Alabama) to 142.7 (Wisconsin).
- The fastest-growing rate was among persons aged ≥85 years (3.9% per year).
- What are the implications for public health practice? As the U.S. population aged ≥65 years increases, health care providers can address the rising number of deaths from falls in this age group by
o asking about fall occurrences,
o assessing gait and balance,
o reviewing medications,
o prescribing interventions such as strength and balance exercises or physical therapy
ASSESSING THE KIND OF SAFETY, YOU NEED:
After reviewing thousands of reviews on bathroom products I can say that there are a lot of people who need education on safety. I know I did. You can take a self-assessment, or you can have an occupational, physical, or MD create a professional assessment.
As seniors we are at an age where we cannot take many risks without harsher consequences.
Bathroom Environment Checklist Things to consider for our bathrooms.
- Grab bars in tub/shower or near toilet
- Rubber mat in bathtub or shower
- Shower chair if needed
- Raised toilet seat if needed
- Items in medicine cabinet within reach and well-marked
- Secure loose towel racks, sink tops, and toilet seats
- Make sure bathroom floors are without clutter and are dry
Common Risk Factors for Falling:
Look over these risk factors and see where you stand. Don’t take any chances you do not need to take.
- Muscle Weakness
- History of Falls
- Gait Deficit
- Balance Deficit
- Use of An Assistive Device
- Visual Deficit
- Impaired ADL
- Cognitive Impairment
- Age Greater Than 80
- Psychotropic Medications
- Class La Antiarrhythmic Medications
- Diuretic Medications
CDC Questions: Where Do You Fall with These Questions?
- Is it Difficulty for you or can walk quarter of a mile?
- Is it Difficulty for you or can climb up 10 steps without resting?
- Is it Difficulty for you or can stand for 2 hours?
- Is it Difficulty for you or can sit for 2 hours?
- Is it Difficulty for you or can stoop, bend, or kneel?
- Is it Difficulty for you or can reach over head?
- Is it Difficulty for you or can grasp or handle small objects?
- Is it Difficulty for you or can push or pull large objects?
- Is the impairment temporary?
- Are you recovering from an operation or an illness?
- Is the impairment getting worse?
- Is the impairment permanent?
Let’s Look At The Safety Features Of The Following Bathroom Aids:
Bath Stools, Chairs, Benches, and Transfer Benches Safety
Stools, chairs, benches, and transfer benches allow someone to sit in the shower. It makes it safe if they cannot stand for long or if there is soap on tub floor
- Having an anti-slip on the feet helps the safety. The anti-slip can be rubber or rubber suction product stopping the chair from sliding around the tub/shower.
- Having a back to a seat prevents someone from falling back off the stool and hurt themselves. It also helps to direct their weight.
- Arm rests help us to lift us on to the seat and helps pull us out of the seat. It helps further to lock the arms in place so there is no chance that the arms are up and hurting ourselves
- A seat belt stops us for falling in any direction and for not slipping out of the seat.
- Cleaning tub/shower floor and the rubber tips on the legs stops anything to get in the way of holding the chair on the floor
- Uneven surfaces can shift the weight to fewer legs and cause the legs to get problems and creating instability.
- The strength of the material can create those legs to collapse. Each leg should be able to hold the entire weigh
GRAB BARS SAFETY
- For the greatest safety the grab bars should be mounted to the wall’s 2 by 4 studs.
- Some place you cannot put in wall joints such as in an apartment. There are suction cup grab bars. These suction cup grab bars have indicators that tell you if they are working. You should look at the indicators before using and after.
- These suction cup grab bars need a clean surface; both on the bathroom walls as well as the suction cups themselves.
- These suction cup grab bars need an even surface, a non-porous surface, and big enough so the cups can be in between the grout lines.
- Check out the weight capacity and not can handle and make sure all your weight is not on the grab.
- For extra safety make sure the suction grab bar has a texture grip
TOILET FRAMES SAFETY
- The safest way to mount a toilet safety frames is to the wall studs. They can also be mounted to the floor or attached to the toilet by removing the existing toilet.
- Make sure the frames are a good height for the person using it so they do not have stretch or buy one that can make height adjustments.
- Make sure the floors are dry
- Make sure there is no clutter on the floors.
- Shower mat can reduce the slipping in a shower.
- Water socks can reduce the slipping in a shower.
TESTING TO IMPROVE SAFETY
There are way too many variables not to test each product before agreeing to keep it. Here are some testing ideas.
- Test your gait with these (DGI)tests from physio-pedia.
- Test your balance by clicking the CDC Test: 4-Stage_Balance_Test-print
- Test the levelness of tub or shower and the floor with a level.
- Test if the stool, chair, or bench sways
- Test if the stool, chair, or bench rocks
- Test if the stool, chair, or bench slides
- Test if the stool, chair, or bench leans to one side or another.
- Don’t forget to test the stool, chair, or bench dry and as soon as you get it to avoid warranty and return issues.
Here are other decision guides you might be interested in:
- Shower Chair Decision Guide
- Grab Bar Decision Guide
- Stackable Bath Steps Decision Guide
- Toilet Safety Rails Decision Guide
- Bathroom Safety Decision Guide