We think it’s relaxing to hop into a warm shower in the morning to get ready for a new day. For the elderly living alone, there is potential danger and death that lurks every time enter the bathroom.
According to a CDC, 51% of injuries for adults over 85 occur near the toilet. When hip fractures do occur, 95% of the are from a fall. Researchers determined that the bathroom was one of the most dangerous rooms in the house
What You Will Learn
- Risks associated with the bathroom
- Limit Bathroom Risks
- The Best Products To Use In The Bathroom
Bathroom Death Traps for Seniors
Let get right into the biggest bathroom death traps for seniors and what you can do to prevent them!
The problem with water is it somehow gets onto surfaces and into places that it should not be. Many people are injured, even killed, in bathroom falls because of water on the tiled floor and it becomes very slick. Poorly fitting shower curtains and wet feet are two of the most common reasons for water ending up on the bathroom floor.
Poorly fitting shower curtains and wet feet are two of the most common causes for water ending up on the restroom floor. The fall itself does not alway kill an older adult, but it can cause hip fractures and leave a senior unable to move to call for help – sometimes for days.
Prevention – The best prevention for keeping water on the floor is having a shatterproof glass shower door rather than a curtain. It also provides something sturdy to hold onto in case of a slip.
Place a non-skid mat at the shower door so slips don’t occur while drying the rest of your body.
2) Slippery Tub or Shower
Using a lot of shower products can cause the bed of a tub to become slick. Shampoo, body wash, soap, bath gel, shaving cream and other shower products collect, and their residue builds up. This residue is not a problem with younger people, but seniors who have balance problems can fall.
Prevention – Wiping down the tub with a washcloth can eliminate the residue. Also, place a non-skid adhesive decal on the shower floor, so there is grip when moving around, or getting in and out of the shower. Adding grab bars in the shower allow a senior to hold onto something wherever slips are most likely.
Additionally using a shower chair (which you can at the Caregiver Partnership) is important as well (including a hand held shower head). It allows a senior (and caretaker) to have a safe way to clean when in a slippery environment.
3) White Surfaces
A white bathroom may look good, but the lights, white surfaces, and reflective surface (like mirrors and chrome) can make a senior disoriented. For younger adults, this may seem far fetched, but glare can be blinding to someone with impaired vision, as is the case with many seniors.
Prevention – Having contrasting colors, wallpaper, or tile help break up the white that can be disorienting. Also, adding frosted light bulbs can help reduce on the glare. Painting the walls may be another option to increase the contrast in color.
4) Space Heater
In the winter months, to save money many people will lower the heat throughout the house and plug in space heaters in bathrooms that can save on the bills, but for seniors it causes a significant danger, especially if a space heater is used in the restroom.
There is so much water used, with sinks, toilets, and showers that electrocution is much more likely than any other room in the house.
Another danger is if a space heater is placed to close to a throw rug or even the toilet paper. These both could catch fire.
Prevention – If keeping warm is a problem installing a permanently wired heating system in the bathroom will prevent the need for a space heater. Additionally, run the shower to produce warming steam before the senior gets in.
Something more economical is to throw towels and a robe in the dryer while your parent is showering so they have something warm to dry their body.
5) Glass Shower Door
Glass doors became an alternative to vinyl shower curtains. Earlier it was mentioned that shower doors are useful but there are drawbacks, some shatter. They also can break if someone falls hard into the door because of a slip.
Most doors are made from tempered glass, they instantly break into many small pieces instead of larger jagged ones, which prevents cuts, injury, and possibly death.
Prevention – Check older doors for cracks, chips, or the glass rubbing against metal. Some say frosted glass shatters more often than clear though there is no data on this. If a door or mirror does break, throw a large towel on the broken glass area so you can safely exit.
6) Slippery Tile Floors
Tile rugs can get slippery when wet and throw rugs are placed down to keep floors dry and feet warm. There throw rugs should be removed from all rooms in the house, but especially the bathroom.
The throw rug is thick and lush, but senior’s trip because they do not pick up their feet enough, get caught on the throw rug and can fall. It happens all the time
Prevention – Replacing a throw rug with a non-slip mat can prevent the trips and falls. You are trading off the comfort of a throw rug, but the protection is worth it.
7) Suction Cup Grab Bars
Suction cup grab bars are death traps. The reason being is over time the suction decreases, and when a senior puts all their weight on the grab bar, it fails and they fall. It only needs to happen once.
Prevention – Using bolt and screw in grab bars are the only way to ensure a senior has a stable item to hold. There are multiple types, one here where it is a floor to ceiling grab bar or a wall mounted grab bar.
The more grab bars, the better. They are easy to install in and outside of the shower and buy the toilet.
Wrapping It Up
In the end, there is no way to 100% prevent an injury or death in the bathroom. Many times simple adjustments and products can make things a lot safer for a senior who is living in their home.
Providing that safety is most important, especially when the products used are inexpensive compared to a hospital bill.
Let us know what you thought about our post, 7 Bathroom Death Traps for Seniors (And How To Prevent Them) in the comments below. What other tips do you have?