Written by American Standard on March 23, 2018, revised on December 15, 2019
When you combine slippery tile or laminate flooring with running water, soap, confined spaces, and lots of dangerous corners, it should come as no surprise that according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CHI), every day last year, almost 1800 over the age of 15 reported Emergency Room visits, and 417 hospital admissions due to falls. The National Institute on Aging states that 80% of falls occur in the bathroom, with 35% directly related to bath or shower related accidents; injury frequency increasing exponentially with age. Getting in and out of the bathtub the right way is an important consideration that can help reduce the number of ER visits each year. Let’s look at five important bathroom safety tips for getting in and out of the bathtub carefully.
Throughout the bathroom, and especially near the tub or shower, make sure that all floor surfaces have non-slip rugs or mats to minimize the chance of slips or falls when it comes to bathtub safety. Throw rugs with non-skid backing may work, but look for microfiber or gel-filled rugs instead. These choices feature very grippy bottoms that hold onto tile or smooth floor surfaces best.
Grab bars are a must:
One of the easiest and most affordable tips is to install at least one grab bar on the tub rim or adjacent wall. More than just providing stability for seniors and young kids, grab bars are a good idea for all. Stay away from any grab bars that use suction cups, as these can often be more harmful if the suction cup slips even a tiny bit. Bolt-on units are much more sturdy and add a level of safety that stick-on units simply can’t achieve.
Install a walk-in tub:
While more expensive, a one-time investment in a top-quality walk-in tub can minimize the risks posed by a standard, slippery bathtub. Users won’t have to hike their legs over a tall bathtub ledge, and most units feature built-in seats, convenient soap trays, and other features that minimize the need to reach for objects and assure bathtub safety.
Use a handheld shower wand:
Handheld shower wands can be attached to almost any shower head and are a great way for seniors to stay safe in the bathtub. Using a handheld shower wand means that you don’t have to remain standing for long periods of time under slippery soap and water run-off.
Keep proper form in mind:
Just as exercise is only safe and effective when proper form is maintained, it is also important to enter and exit the bathtub using a specific series of movements. When entering the bath, hold onto the ledge and place one leg over while squatting down slightly to lower your center of gravity. Then, pull the other leg over as you maintain your grip on the ledge. Slowly lower to your knees, while holding onto the ledge, and then move into your resting position. Exiting the bath is simply the reverse.
A walk-in tub is one of the safest additions to any home, and combining this unique bathroom fixture with grab bars, appropriate bathroom flooring, a bath chair, and common-sense bathtub safety steps can dramatically reduce the number of ER visits each year.
How Caregivers Can Help
As a caregiver, you are responsible for the safety of your loved one. Helping them get in and out of the bathtub safely, without getting hurt is key. Below are some things to consider when helping your friend or family member stay safe:
- Provide sturdy handrails at key areas where they are getting in and out of the bathtub
- Educate them on the benefits of a safe, senior-friendly walk-in tub
- Help keep the floors dry and the bathroom clean
- Arrange toiletries so they are within reach
- Ask your loved one how you can help make their bathroom safer
These are just a few tips that will help seniors be safe in the bathroom and notes on how caregivers can help! To learn more about bathroom safety, explore our blog.