Bathrooms can be a perilous place in the house, especially for people who are older or living with a chronic condition that can make falls more likely. Much like the kitchen, this is a risky space in the home with slippery surfaces and sharp objects.
One study found that the most common location for fall injuries in the home was the bathroom, including when people are hurrying to the bathroom. A National Institute on Aging statistic states that 80% of falls in the home happen in the bathroom.
Yet these injuries are not just the result of missing grab bars in the shower, and not all of the risk involves a fall. Consider these other risk factors that could lead to a fall in the bathroom:
- A bath mat in the tub or shower. In theory, these mats are there to prevent a fall on the slick surface. In reality, they can become a tripping hazard as they bunch up or simply move when stepped on. The solution is to put on non-slip decals to the surface of the tub or shower.
- Lack of adequate lighting. It’s not uncommon for people age 65 or older, or those living with certain conditions or taking specific medications, to need to use the restroom in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, being half awake is only going to increase the chances of tripping or slipping and possibly falling in the bathroom. The solution is to install a simple night light that can at the very least make it clear where the light switch is in the dark.
- No handheld showerhead. When someone needs to use a chair in the shower or tub, they will also need an easy-to-reach shower head that they can move around without too much twisting and turning. The solution is to add an adjustable shower head that allows the individual to clean themselves while remaining safely seated.
- Hot water. As we age, our skin becomes thinner and more sensitive to exposure to high water temperatures. At the same time, there is a decreased ability to sense when water is so hot it can scald or burn the skin. The solution is to have an expert set the water heater thermostat between 110 to 120 degrees, which is considered safe by experts.
Learn more about helping a loved one stay safe in the shower here.
See our interactive graphic about bathroom safety and get other fall prevention tips here.