Bathroom Safety Updates from Oakley Home Access
One of the most dangerous areas of the home for older adults is in the bathroom. Many factors lead into this data, but research shows that making modifications to your bathroom can greatly reduce the risk of falls. Oakley Home Access specializes in conservative, affordable, and efficient bathroom modifications, and in this month’s blog we will review some of what we can offer. We have heard from many clients that they plan to do these updates this year and if you’ve been considering these improvements, we would love to help.
When Oakley Home Access was founded, the main focus of the company was to help prevent falls through grab bar installation. The bathroom is the area in which 80% of falls occur for adults 65 years and older. These falls can result in fractures, reduced independence, and often create anxiety. Some older adults will decrease their frequency of showering or bathing because of this fear. With this information in mind, we made it our goal to modify the dangerous aspects of the bathroom in a way which promotes independence, maximizes mobility, and reduces the risk of falling.
Here are some easy ideas that can help you to improve bathroom safety.
- Reaching Overhead – The action of reaching overhead for washing hair, reaching for items on high shelving, or retrieving the shower head can all lead to loss of balance. When reaching overhead, you reduce your base of support and change your center of gravity. Unfortunately, this commonly leads to falls. A simple solution would be strategically placed grab bars for support.
- Low Toilet Seats – It is very common in older homes to have toilet heights around 14-15 inches. This positioning of having your hips below your knees can make standing very difficult for our clients. One simple solution is a 3 inch toilet riser added onto your existing toilet. Alternatively, a licensed plumber can assist with installing a 17-20 inch height toilet.
- Suction Cup Grab Bars – Suction cup grab bars are a true danger as they often come loose during hot showers and offer no support in a falling situation. They usually come packaged with a warning not to utilize for weight bearing. Call us at Oakley Home Access to ensure your grab bars are securely anchored with specialized hardware as well placed according to our recommendations after our Free Home Safety Assessment.
- Wet and Slippery Surfaces – Bathrooms with smooth tile surfaces and slick bathtub floors mean easy cleaning, but they can also be a cause of falls. A non-slip floor treatment or non-slip strips might be a good solution. Without modifications, wet surfaces can be safer by simply taking your time, reducing your step sizes, and holding on to supports.
- Improper Lighting – Many bathrooms do not have proper lighting. Steam from a hot shower can also create dimmed lighting. We recommend having a light switch located directly next to the entrance to any room. LED battery-operated push-button adhesive mounted lights are a great DIY solution when you need lighting in a small area such as the path to the bathroom or at the top/bottom of staircases.
- Blood Pressure Changes – Hot showers can have a negative effect on blood pressure and cause dizziness and loss of balance. Take three to five deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, prior to standing up from a seated position. At-home blood pressure monitors are available to keep a close eye on blood pressure changes.
- No Place to Rest – Many showers and bathrooms have no place to take a seat and rest at the vanity or in the shower. This can cause fatigue which leads to falls. We recommend portable shower chairs with arms, backrests, and adjustable height.
- Glass Shower Doors – While attractive, glass shower doors are one of the most dangerous items found in the house. We are anti-glass doors for several reasons. They reduce access for entering and exiting a shower which also allows less space for caregivers to assist loved ones. Also, shower doors have handles that offer a false sense of security: The handles are very tempting to utilize for stabilization during entering and exiting the tub or shower, which commonly leads to falls. Finally, glass doors can break if we lean or fall into them. We gladly provide a service to remove doors and replace them with curved wall-mounted curtain rods.
Your safety is our goal! Don’t put off these easy solutions in 2023. We can help make your home or a loved one’s home a safe environment. Call Oakley Home Access 401-429-3882 and have one of our home safety specialists complete a free home safety assessment for you or a loved one.