Approximately 36 million seniors falls are reported every year; but less than half tell their doctor. Twenty to thirty percent of these accidents results in a serious injury. That’s over 10 million people; resulting in more than 32,000 of whom die as a result of their injury.
Fact: Nearly sixty percent of falls happen at home. Most home falls happen in the living room or bedroom, but nearly fifteen percent happen in the bathroom, so I think you will agree that you need to make sure your bathroom routine is as safe as it can possibly be.
There are a number of things you can do to increase the safety level of your bathroom routine. Most of them are common sense. But we both know that common sense isn’t always all that common. So, let’s take a few minutes to look at a few of them.
*If you don’t have a walk-in shower, get one. Making this change won’t be the least expensive change you make, but it is definitely the most cost-effective and the one with the highest ‘safety return’.
When I say ‘cost-effective’, I am referring to the fact that the cost of a bathroom remodel is far less than the cost of nursing home care or home healthcare, or the price of giving up your independence and mobility.
*Install lighting that doesn’t cast a glare. Soft, bright lights (ceiling lights are best) reduce the chances of distortion, which in turn, can make you misjudge distance.
*Make sure your floor surface is not too smooth (slick). A rougher textured ceramic tile is best. Large tiles (12 x 12 or 18 x 18) are ideal because they present the least amount of ‘catching’ your toe on space between the tiles.
*Keep everything you need at a level where you don’t have to reach above your head or bend lower than putting your hands at knee-length. This is especially true in the shower.
*Speaking of the shower, keep your soap, shampoo, etc. in a plastic basket (one that drains) so that it won’t fall off the shower shelf and onto the shower floor, making it necessary for you to bend over to retrieve it.
*If you haven’t already, install a towel bar or hook by the shower/tub so that you don’t have to step out and walk across the bathroom floor to get it.
*Don’t even think about going into the bathroom (especially at night) without a light on. But don’t get out of bed to use the bathroom and flip on the main light. It can ‘blind’ you and cause you to fall. Instead, make sure you have strategically placed nightlights. Strategically placed nightlights are ones that illuminate the floor, the toilet area, and the sink area.
*Take your phone into the bathroom with you. Or if you still have landlines, make sure there is a phone in the bathroom. Luxury? No. Being able to answer the phone while you are in your bathroom eliminates the ‘need’ for you to rush to answer the phone. Even more importantly, if you do fall, you will be able to call for help.
*Who doesn’t love a hot shower, right? But don’t make it too hot. Extremely hot water raises the body temperature rapidly, which can make you dizzy and lightheaded. Enough said.
*Write your emergency contact numbers on a notecard and put them in plain sight. Illness or injury often cause us to become confused and flustered; making it difficult or impossible to recall the numbers from memory. Or if you are unconscious or unable to speak, whoever helps you will need this information.
Bathroom routines for seniors aren’t as much about time efficiency as they are safety. But a safe bathroom routine extends both the quantity and quality of the time you have to enjoy this stage of life, so don’t put off making your bathroom routine as safe as possible.
Guest post By Darla Nobel
The views expressed by the author may not reflect the views of Age Safe America, LLC. The content here should not be taken as medical, legal or financial advice. The content here is for informational purposes only, and because each person is so unique, please consult your own healthcare, legal or financial professional with any questions.