Taking a bath or shower is something most of us do on a daily basis without a second thought. But for an aging senior who’s living at home, bathing can be intimidating due to cognitive impairment, frailty and poor balance.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), roughly 230,000 Americans a year get injured in their bathrooms, and that most of those accidents result from bathtub slips and falls experienced by people over age 65. Elderly persons annually experience cuts, bruises, and even bone fractures from bathing-related falls requiring medical attention. And if you are currently looking after a senior loved one that’s aging in place within their own home, that’s troubling. On the positive side, there are several proven ways to make bathing safer for at-home seniors that you can assist them with.
Why is Bathing Dangerous for Seniors?
Most tub and shower areas are tight spaces with lots of hard surfaces and sharp corners. A senior’s blood pressure fluctuates when they exert themselves, which can cause dizziness and poor balance. When you combine those balance issues with wet floor tile and slippery porcelain tub surfaces, that’s a recipe for accidental falls. Seniors also don’t have the strength that younger adults do, and as a result they sometimes have trouble steadying their own weight when they stumble. When you add in cognitive impairment from dementia or Alzheimer’s, an elderly person can easily get confused within the confines of their own bathroom, which further creates a dangerous environment for them.
Making Bathing Safer for At-Home Seniors
In an effort to keep seniors safer when they are bathing and showering within their own homes, experts recommend using these bathroom precautions:
- Install grab bars. Wall-mounted or floor-to-ceiling metal grab bars can be easily installed that provide secure support for seniors when they are getting into and out of a tub. Grab bars are also highly-recommended next to a senior’s toilet.
- Ensure non-slip surfaces. Slippery surfaces and water make for a bad combination. Non-slip decals can be applied to any potentially-slick areas, like the floor of the tub or shower, along with the bathroom floor itself. Also remove throw rugs from the bathroom, as they tend to slide around and can get tripped over easily.
- Place bathing items within reach. Reaching awkwardly for the soap, shampoo or other bathing items can be a slip hazard for seniors. To ensure that doesn’t happen, arrange your loved one’s bathing items within easy reach using hooks and shelves.
- Prevent over-exertion. Over-exertion is another reason why seniors get injured while bathing every year. Elderly people tend to have less energy and can find themselves overdoing it simply getting in and out of the tub, or standing up in the shower for a few minutes. Installing a secure bathing seat is a good strategy to employ to reduce their likelihood of experiencing over-exertion.
- Eliminate obstacles. One of the most formidable obstacles for seniors stepping in and out of their tub is the side, and doing so on wet surfaces makes it doubly challenging. To reduce those tripping risks, install a walk-in bathtub or shower and also clear the bathroom of other trip hazards.
In the end, employing these bathing safety precautions should provide a safer bathroom environment for your senior loved one so that they can continue independently aging in place for many years to come. If you’re still worried about their bathing safety when you’re not around, there’s always the option of hiring a professional caregiver to help out.
We Help At-Home Seniors Bathe Safely
Ensuring that your aging family member can safely bathe and shower can be challenging, especially when you’re busy managing your own household or simply live too far away. When you need help, the reliable caregivers at Cranberry Home Care can step in and provide your loved one with the safe bathing assistance they need, and restore your peace-of-mind.
Our highly-trained home care aids are carefully screened beforehand for your loved one’s security and, in addition to bathing, provide other expert services like meal preparation, laundry, light housekeeping, transportation and companionship. All our senior care services are delivered in a flexible, affordable and seamless package that will put your mind at-ease.
To learn more about Cranberry Home Care, and why we are quickly becoming the go-to senior home care choice for families in the Middleboro, MA area, visit: cranberryhomecare.com now.