The 2020 Ultimate Guide to Bath Safety
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in the house for seniors. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans 65 and older falls each year, and the National Institute of Aging found that 80% of these falls happen in the bathroom.
That being said, the bathroom should be one of the first places you safety proof as you or your loved one ages. This guide provides you with everything you need to know to get started.
General Bathroom Safety
Some falls can happen during the short walk into and out of the bathroom. Other falls may occur while taking care of basic self-hygiene like brushing your teeth. To prevent these falls, there are a few simple things you can do, including:
Getting rid of or securing any rugs
Rugs can be tripped over easily. Removing rugs from the bathroom or securing them with Velcro or double-sided tape can help eliminate trip and fall hazards.
Installing a Night Light
Many falls occur due to insufficient lighting. Installing an automatic LED light can help keep you or your loved one safe when going to the bathroom at night.
Shower and Bathtub Safety
The shower and bathtub are some of the easiest places for falls or other injuries to occur in the bathroom. The floor and walls can both become slippery. Those with pre-existing balance issues can quickly lose their balance while bathing or entering and exiting the tub. Luckily, there is a wide range of products available that can help keep you or your loved one safe in the shower or bathtub.
Bath mats are a great place to start when making your bathtub or shower safer. They provide a more textured surface to prevent falls, and most bath mats feature hundreds of suction cups to secure them to the floor. There are many different bath mat size options you can choose from, depending on the size of your tub and how much coverage you prefer.
Bathtub Safety Rails
Bathtub safety rails clamp onto the side of the bathtub to provide extra stability when stepping into and out of the tub. They’re easy to install with minimal to no tools necessary, and many are height adjustable or offer dual or tri-grip rails to accommodate a range of users.
You will want to measure the width of your tub edge to ensure that the rail will fit on it. If your tub is fiberglass, check to make sure the rail can be used on it, as many rails cannot be used on fiberglass tubs. One safe-for-fiberglass option you might consider is the Carex White Bathtub Rail.
Many people will grip onto a towel bar or soap dish to steady themselves in the shower, but that can be dangerous because they aren’t designed to hold your weight. Grab bars can safely and securely provide balance when entering or exiting the shower or tub and when bathing. Many can even be installed near the toilet to help with standing and sitting.
Some require drilling to install, but others are tool-free can be easily secured to the wall with suction cups. These suction bars will typically have a visual indicator that turns from red to green, so you know when they securely adhere to the wall. Grab bars also come in a variety of diameters and lengths to fit your needs. Many are textured to provide a secure grip even when wet.
Grab bars can be installed vertically, horizontally, or diagonally depending on your needs, and you may want to place them on the walls both inside the shower and at its entrance for assistance throughout the entire process of bathing.
Transfer benches help you safely enter and exit the tub by sliding onto the bench from the outside. This can be a more secure option than grab bars or safety rails for those with significant balance issues or weakness in their legs since users can stay seated while entering and exiting and while bathing.
Usually, transfer benches are placed with two legs outside of the tub and two legs inside. Because tub floors are typically higher than the bathroom floor, you will want to adjust both sides of the bench to make sure it is level. Be sure that both legs inside the tub are equal to each other, and both legs outside of the bathtub are equal to each other, and make sure that the bench is stable before using it.
To use a transfer bench, sit on the side of the bench outside of the bathtub and slide to the center, using the bench’s arm or handle for support if available and lifting each leg over the tub wall. After bathing, slide back to the outside and lift your legs again, careful to turn slowly without twisting to avoid injury.
LEARN MORE ABOUT TRANSFER BENCHES
Our transfer bench buyer's guide will run you through everything to know about transfer benches including key characteristics to consider, installation, maintenance, common questions, and more.READ THE FULL GUIDE
Shower seats offer a safe and comfortable place to sit for those with significant balance issues or who may tire quickly. They’re available both with and without a back support. Some seats even swivel to assist with getting into and out of the tub.
Handheld Shower Sprays
It can be helpful to have a handheld shower spray to use with your transfer bench or shower seat. These feature an extra-long hose that allows you to bathe more easily while sitting down, and they usually have an on/off switch to give you control without having to reach for the faucet. Some may also feature a diverter valve, which allows you to switch between the existing showerhead and the handheld shower spray with ease.
Because seniors are most often alone in the bathroom, sitting or rising from the toilet can often lead to falls or other injuries. As a fall preventative, there are a few bath safety products you can buy that make the process of going to the bathroom a little easier.
Raised Toilet Seats
Raised toilet seats increase the height of the toilet seat 3.5 to 5 inches to make sitting and standing take less effort. They are usually tool-free and easy to install and come with or without padded armrests for additional support.
Toilet Safety Rails
Toilet safety rails can accompany raised toilet seats or be used by themselves to add stability when standing or sitting. Most have rubber tips on the feet to prevent slipping and are height adjustable for a comfortable and customizable fit. While many toilet safety rails require installation by being bolted down, Carex offers a self-standing option that does not require installation.
Commodes can solve multiple safety issues that those who are aging may face when using the bathroom. They are typically placed near the bed to provide those who are less mobile with an easily accessible toilet option, saving them from potential fall hazards.
Carex offers three-in-one commodes, which can serve as a bedside commode or be placed directly over a toilet and used as a raised toilet seat and toilet safety rail depending on your needs. This is useful for people who can safely go to the bathroom during the day but may need the convenience of a bedside commode at night.
Cleaning commodes can be difficult because they don’t use running water like toilets do, but instead use a plastic bucket. Commode liners can make the clean-up process much more manageable. They’re usually absorbent to prevent splashing and make it easier to empty the commode.
Taking precautions by following these tips and using Carex Bath Safety products can significantly reduce the risk of injury and help you or your loved one age in place longer. If you or a loved one benefits from one of our bath safety products, it is likely a mobility item will help with getting around easier. Check out our guide to Selecting the Right Mobility Aid to find what’s right for you!
About the Author
Stephanie Schwarten is a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelors degree in Professional Writing. She specializes in content marketing as well as both developmental and copy editing.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.
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