Falls are a common health issue among seniors. While the majority of the population is exposed to falling accidents, be it dangerous work or leisure activities, elders are more prone to falling just from their day-to-day activities.
The result from a fall can be as little as bruises or cuts or can be as worse as death. The chances of a worse outcome from a fall are even more in the elderly due to pre-existing health issues, low bone and muscle health and general difficulty in doing everyday tasks. This can result in significant costs for both the victims and their families.
More particularly, 95% of the people hospitalized for broken hips get an injury from a fall. And 80% of these falls happen in the bathroom, with half of them resulting from environmental factors such as slippery floors or poor lighting.
While it’s impossible to prevent these falls, taking a few precautions can reduce the chances of falls among the elderly, especially in the bathroom setting. Here are a few ways to protect your elderly from physical injuries that can occur from a fall.
Glossy tiles have become a popular bathroom feature of a house recently, mainly because it looks classy and is very easy to clean. But these tiles can get very slippery when they’re wet. This makes it hazardous for the elderly to walk on especially if the tiles have been worn out over time.
Replacing old tiles with new ones can provide better traction and stronger footing, reducing the risks of falling or slipping on the floor. Replacing the tiles with textured titles can further provide more grip and help resist moisture.
Grab handles provide elders with additional support and increased stability by helping them maintain their balance in the bathroom. They can be particularly helpful when stepping in and out of the bathtub or getting up from a toilet.
Grab hands also help reduce strain on muscles and joints when reaching for things such as sinks or towel racks. Plus, they also help the elderly stay more confident in the bathroom, who could otherwise be suffering from the fear of falling and limiting their mobility.
Lack of proper access to essentials in the bathroom can be highly inconvenient for elders. Improving the accessibility can be done in several ways, starting with installing a walk-in shower or a bathtub with a low threshold that could make it easier for elders to get in and out of the bathroom area. Since entering and exiting the bathroom and showers can be a major cause of injury for elders.
Along with this, raising the height of the toilet seat can make it easy for elders, who suffer from arthritis or other mobility issues, to lower themselves and get up easily from the toilet seat.
Poor lighting can make it difficult for older adults to see obstacles, trip hazards, or slippery surfaces in the bathroom. Installing brighter lighting or additional light sources can help seniors get more visibility and avoid accidents.
Shadows in the bathroom can be equally hazardous as they can obscure hazards, making it difficult for elders to see where to step. Improving the lighting can help get rid of these shadows, making it easier for elders to navigate the space.
In addition to this, improving the lighting can help build more contrast in the bathroom, helping adults distinguish between different surfaces & avoiding potential hazards.
It is important to replace old fixtures for seniors since old fixtures can be difficult to use and can contribute to falling accidents. Older faucets or showerheads, for example, can be hard to turn on and off which can cause the elderly to lose their balance when adjusting the water temperature or flow.
Old toilet flushes and sink knobs, too, can be equally dangerous if they’re difficult to use for seniors who have arthritis or other mobility issues. This can cause overexertion among seniors, potentially making them lose their balance and even fall.
By replacing old fixtures with user-friendly alternatives, elders can maintain their balance in the bathroom and prevent falls. Upgrading your bathroom features essentially makes your bathroom a safer and more accessible space for elders, giving them the independence and liberty to enjoy their quality of life.
A clutter-free bathroom ensures that no obstacles or items are blocking the pathways, reducing the risk of tripping and falling. This is particularly important for those with mobility issues, such as the elderly. A tidy bathroom makes it easy for elders to see where things are, reducing the risk of knocking over bathroom items and falling.
In addition to this, an organized bathroom also improves accessibility to essentials such as towels, toiletries, and handrails for elders. Plus, it helps individuals with dementia to move in a calm and organized environment, helping reduce anxiety and promoting safety.
Hot water burns are not as common to cause bathroom falls, but they shouldn’t be ignored nonetheless. Elders have thin skin and reduced sensitivity to heat which makes it difficult for them to sense abnormally hot water. This can lead to burns, causing pain and discomfort and a decreased ability to move comfortably in the bathroom.
By preventing hot water burns you can reduce the risk of falls among elders. This can be done by installing temperature control devices in showers or bathtubs to regulate the temperature and avoid burns. In addition to this, you can educate the elderly on checking the water temperature before entering a shower or bathtub, and adjusting the temperature if necessary.
A bathroom can be a particularly dangerous place for elders and it’s important to take necessary precautions to protect them from any potential injuries. By implementing the tips mentioned in the article, you can significantly reduce the risk of falls and injuries. With that, it’s also important to encourage seniors to maintain their strength through regular exercise, helping them maintain independence and safety in the bathroom.