As we get older, balance and mobility can become huge issues. We can become more prone to slips and falls which make some places around our home more dangerous. Approximately 80% of falls take place in the bathroom so using bathtub for older adults needs to be accompanied by precautionary measures to prevent accidents. Improvements in the bathroom need not be expensive. Some simple fixes can promote safety for older adults.
- Using mats or stickers on tub floor
- Installing grab bars in the bathtub area
- Using a handheld shower head for bathing
- Providing a shower chair or tub transfer bench
- Placing non-slip mats outside the bathtub
Bathroom Falls and Injuries Among Older Adults
Falling is a serious issue for older adults. One out of four older adults aged 65 years old and above fall every year. Every year, 3 million older adults are treated in the emergency room for fall-related injuries. In old age, these falls are not that simple which involve slight bruising. When an older adult falls, it may lead to head injuries or broken bones. Unfortunately, older adults do not just experience pain when they fall. Many are put at a risk of falling again by at least a 50% chance. They may also be at a risk of psychological implication as they become afraid of sustaining the same injuries again. In turn, they subconsciously start to cut back on their daily living activities.
Risk Factors Contributing to Falling
There are several known risk factors that can contribute to falling in older adults. They may not be specific to the bathroom alone, but a fall is often not due to one specific risk but is a result of a mixture of various factors. The risk factors can include the following:
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Lower body weakness
- Certain medications which may affect balance and steadiness
- Walking and balance difficulties
- Foot pain or poor footwear
- Senior vision problems
- Home hazards (clutter, broken steps, throw rugs, etc)
Correct Way to Get Out of Bathtub
Once an older adult knows the proper way to get out of the bathtub, accidents can be prevented. We usually stand up and put one leg over the side of the tub before putting out the other leg. However, this is not ideal for older adults as they become more prone to falling. The correct way is as follows:
- Sit on the floor of the bathtub before grabbing the edge.
- Pull yourself towards the edge until you have rolled onto your side.
- Put your hands flat on the floor of the bathtub and shift onto your hands and knees to face the bottom.
- Push yourself up using your knees while holding onto the edge to get on your knees.
- Raise your knees slowly off the floor and continue to hold the edge until you are in a standing position.
- Lift one leg up and bring it over the side.
- Raise your other leg and bring it over the side while still holding onto the edge.