Aging in Place News & Info

Get The Monsters Out Of Your Bathroom

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bathtub-monster

Photo By Maira Kouvara

By Andrea Tannenbaum, AdaptMy.com

A nice warm bath or shower can offer relief to people who have arthritis and other muscular or joint ailments. A long soak can be just what the doctor ordered. But many people are concerned about slipping and falling in the tub. Unlike a child’s fear about the “monster in the drain”, the “slip and fall” monster is very real.

According to the National Safety Council, more than 400 people drown in bath tubs each year. That horrifying statistic does not include all the injuries, big and small, that occur annually due to falls in the tub. These falls are most likely to occur while entering or leaving the tub as well as when shifting between a standing and seated position.

Don’t let the “slip and fall” monster prevent you from enjoying the benefits of a bath. Instead, arm yourself to defeat this monster by following some commonsense practices and adding a few safety items to your bath area. These safety precautions are particularly important if you are weak or have balance issues.

If you can stand, but need some support to get into or out of the tub, being able to hold onto something secure might be the solution:

  • A Bath Tub Rail provides something to hold onto as you enter or leave the tub. There are many styles, all fitting over the tub edge without doing any damage to the fixture. Make sure to select the right height and grip style to suit your needs.
  • Grab Bars of varying lengths, textures and styles can be mounted on the wall in strategic locations where they can provide support. Grab bars serve two purposes. 
    • The first is as a balance aid, something to hold onto that is stable and gives you a sense of security.
    • The second and more important purpose is as a tool to support you if you should begin to fall.

Please do not be tempted to use a towel bar as a grab bar substitute. Towel bars are not designed to hold the weight of a person if they begin to fall. During a fall, with help of gravity, the actual force pulling on the bar can be much more that your weight. Because of this, it is important to follow all precautions regarding appropriate wall preparation when installing a grab bar. Find a professional to install the grab bar – for your own safety!

  • A tension pole that is secured between the floor and the ceiling offers support like a grab bar, but does not have to be secured to a wall. That makes it a good option for the middle of the room, by the side of the tub or even in the tub. By holding onto the pole at a comfortable level, you can use your arm strength for balance and support.

If your balance is poor or your legs are weak:

  • You can sit and slide over the edge of the tub with a transfer bench. These seats span over the edge of the tub, with two legs in the tub and two legs outside of the tub. The bather sits on the chair outside the tub and then slides their body across the bench and into the tub.There are transfer chairs that will even do the sliding for you so you don’t have to ‘lift and bump’ down the seat. With any transfer chair, you still must lift your legs over the edge of the tub, but you can do this one leg at a time from the seated position. When fully in the tub, your body remains above the water (at the same height as the edge of the tub). We recommend a bench seat with a back because it provides more support and comfort.
     
  • A bath lift is right for people who need to be able to soak in the warm water, but cannot crouch down or get up from the floor of the tub. The bath lift gently lowers the bather into the tub or raises them up with the press of a button. Bath lifts are powered by batteries or water. We prefer the battery operated style, as is does not retain any water in the system that might develop mold. The inflated bath chair lift is another alternative. This ‘blow-up’ chair comes with its own air compressor. This inflatable style stores and travels better than its bulky bath bench cousin.

Be sure that the floor of your tub is not slippery.

  • Use a Non-Slip Bath Mat or Non-Slip Tread Strips to give you a better grip on the wet surface.
  • Be sure to clean the tub regularly to eliminate mold and soap scum that can create a slick residue that contributes to falls.
  • Have a secure place to step when you get out of the tub.
  • Make sure the shower curtain stays within the tub to prevent water on the floor. A weighted shower curtain that makes sure the curtain does not ‘billow’ can be a big help to keep water in the tub.
  • Lay down a bath rug with a non-slip backing on the floor. Don’t use a towel to step on; it’s just not stable enough.
  • If the toilet is by the tub, put the lid down so you can sit quickly. Otherwise, you may want a bath chair or stool available to sit on while you dry off.
  • Take your time. Rushing can cause problems.

Bathing can be a relaxing, soothing experience that eases your aches and promotes blood flow and proper hygiene. With a few precautions to make sure the ‘slip and fall’ monster can’t wreak havoc, you can enjoy the moment

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