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Preventing Senior Falls in the Bathrooms

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Preventing Senior Falls in the Bathrooms-20100329-019-225x300Bathrooms are one of the most dangerous places in the house for seniors as these rooms have a high potential for slips and falls that can cause serous injury. Therefore it’s no surprise that many older Americans modify their bathrooms with products that help seniors take care of their personal needs in a safer manner. Walk-in bathtubs are one of the many products that are recommended for those with mobility issues. When designing facilities with safety in mind, however, bathroom tips include taking precautions with walk-in tubs as they can pose some risks.

An obvious, but often overlooked consequence of walk-in bathtubs is that you still have to be able to walk to get into them. Bathers enter these tubs, which have sidewalls that are higher than normal tubs, through a door. They also have quarters that are tighter than normal bathtubs, making it difficult for caregivers to assist seniors with getting in and out. This situation requires some mobility, and as such, senior tips include taking precautions that will apply not only to the tub itself, but also be applicable to the bathroom as a whole.

Installing grab bars near the entry to the tub is one way to maximize safety. They may not be pretty but they may mean the difference between independence and injury. Towel racks and soap holders should not double as grab bars because they are not designed to hold a lot of weight. Grab bars are bolted into the studs in the wall and have the ability to support someone’s weight.

Consider what is on your floor. Do you have any bathroom rugs? If so, these can pose danger when getting in and out of the tub. Make sure that bathroom rugs have non-skid backing so they don’t move, or better yet, get rid of them entirely. Install a floor that has a non-glare finish or is textured so that feet can easily grip the surface.

Another overlooked safety issue is water temperature. Make sure you have you water heater set to a level that won’t scald the skin. Seniors’ senses and response time is slower and they may not realize how hot the water is until they are already burnt. You can also install a thermostatic mixing valve that senses changes in the flow of water temperatures and adjusts accordingly.