Proper hygiene maintenance is an important element of elder care, but for seniors living at home in Montreal, the bathroom can be a dangerous area; a lack of awareness of the risks involved in bathing and using the toilet can lead to serious injury. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, falls are the most common cause of hip fractures, and half of reported injuries in seniors caused by falling occur at home. The bathroom is one of the most likely places in a home for a senior to suffer a slip or fall, which can result in broken bones, scrapes, bruises, or, in 20% of cases, even death.
Preventing Falls In The Bathroom
It’s important to remember that while falls are an inherent risk for seniors living at home, the bathroom is especially dangerous. According to the National Council on Aging, an elderly person is sent to emergency care for fall-related injuries every 11 seconds in the United States. Every nineteen minutes, one of these falls results in death. For this reason, it’s essential that proper steps be taken in order to minimize the danger involved with falling in the bathroom for seniors living at home.
1. Installing Shower Bars
Having bars installed near the shower can help prevent falls by providing the elder with something to hold onto while entering and exiting the shower. Oftentimes, older people with difficulty maintaining balance will hold onto a towel bar for support, but these are not made to hold the weight of a person and can break, leading to serious injury. If baths are preferable, using a tub-attached bar is also a great option to make getting in and out of the bath safer.
2. Installing Raised Toilet Seats
Another common cause of injuries in the bathroom is difficulty sitting down and getting up from the toilet. A raised toilet seat makes it much easier for elderly persons to use the toilet, and greatly reduces the risk associated with limited mobility.
3.Installing Automatic Night Lights
Seniors can be at risk of falling when walking to the bathroom at light due to decreased visibility caused by darkness and/or poor eyesight. Setting up night lights in a hallway leading to the bathroom (and in the bathroom itself) can help to prevent falls.
4. Installing A Walk-in Bathtub
When mobility is reduced in the elderly, tripping over the high edges of the bathtub becomes a major risk factor. A walk-in bathtub has a small door for entering and exiting the tub, as well as a seat so the senior doesn’t have to stand for an extended period of time.
Falling and tripping in the bathroom is a very real and dangerous possibility for seniors living at home, but even if the above steps are taken to minimize risk, there is still another precaution that needs to be taken:
Preventing Slips In The Shower
Slipping on wet surfaces is as much of a hazard in the bathroom for elders as tripping. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent injury:
1. Using Shower Chairs
Shower chairs allow the elderly to sit while taking a shower, reducing the risk of slipping on the wet floor. These chairs can either be portable or permanently fixed in the shower, and the legs are normally covered with rubber at the feet to prevent sliding.
2. Having Non-Slip Mats
Non-slip mats are a very important addition in any bathroom to prevent slips, especially for seniors. Having a mat outside the tub can prevent slipping when exiting the shower or bath, and a rubber non-slip mat on the floor of the shower can help reduce the risk of slips while bathing. If a senior caregiver is helping to bathe the elderly person, this also makes it easier for them, as they often are on their knees in front of the tub, and a soft mat makes this process more comfortable.
3. Placing Toiletries In Easily-Accessible Locations
For seniors, having to reach up or bend down while showering to get shampoo or soap presents the risk of slipping and being seriously injured. Some simple solutions to this include placing bottles on a high shelf to eliminate the need to bend over, installing wall-mounted holders for shampoo bottles, or having a wall-mounted soap dispenser inside the shower.
Additional Steps To Minimize Risk In The Bathroom
1. Labeling Faucets
This one is simple, but often overlooked: The elderly are much more at risk of burns from hot water due to having fragile skin, so labeling the sink and shower/bathtub faucets as “hot” and “cold” can prevent confusion that may cause scalding.
2. Installing Faucet Levers
Faucet levers are much easier to use than knob faucets, especially for seniors with reduced dexterity.
3. Having A Removable Shower Head
A removable shower head allows the elderly person to sit in the shower, reducing the risk of slipping, and also limits the need for movement to allow the water to reach all parts of the body. This also gives the senior more independence in their personal hygiene.
A Helping Hand
When it comes to senior care for those living at home, there are a lot of steps that need to be taken to prevent or minimize the risk of injury; having a caregiver to assist in providing safety and comfort is a great way to ensure proper steps are always taken for hygiene and bathing. If you need a senior caregiver in Montreal, don’t hesitate to contact Complete Care Coordination for a free consultation.