Did you know that more than one in three elderly persons fall each year – often at home? What happens if a senior or elderly person falls in the bathroom while showering?
A 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that over 200,000 seniors in the United States are treated in emergency departments yearly due to bathroom-related injuries.
Bathrooms are extremely hazardous due to their slippery nature. Bathrooms have slippery surfaces and very few dependable things to grasp onto if one suddenly falls.
This situation greatly increases the chances of injury from bathroom-related accidents. That’s where shower safety for seniors and the elderly come in handy. Improving bathroom safety while in the shower is paramount to the health and well-being of your loved parent or senior.
This article provides tips on creating a safe shower space for seniors that improve the safety of your parent or elderly loved one.
Is Your Parent Or Loved One Susceptible?
Over 80% of falls in a home are in the bathroom. Even though anyone can slip and fall in a bathroom, an elderly person with poor muscle strength and balance issues is far more susceptible to slipping and falling in the bathroom.
Most falls in the bathroom occur while your parent is getting in and out of the tub or shower, sitting down or getting up from the toilet, and walking in the bathroom without any object to grab to support the balance of the individual.
Many other factors can increase the risk of your loved one slipping and falling in the bathroom, such as:
- Slippery shower floor surfaces
- Non-slip-resistant shower chairs
- Slippery rugs in the bathroom
- Insufficiently secured towel racks
- Bathtubs that are difficult to step in and out
- Slippery floor tiles in the bathroom
You can do many things to reduce the risk of your loved one slipping and falling in the bathroom. Here are some tips to consider when renovating your bathroom for elder safety:
Tools to Make Showers Safer for Older Adults
A shower chair is a great option to improve elder safety in the bathroom. It provides stability for elders who have difficulty balancing. The chair is great for elders who find it difficult to stand for long periods while showering.
The best shower chairs for seniors and the elderly have rubber tips on the legs to prevent them from sliding. The chair is ideal for your loved one to remain seated while showering when coupled with a handheld shower head.
Most seniors would hold onto the towel bar to get in and out of the bathtub or shower. But towel bars aren’t great for supporting the weight of your loved one.
Towel bars are made to hold the weight of towels, not a person’s. Instead, you should install grab bars in easy-to-reach places in the bathroom – especially around the bathtub or shower.
Shower grab bars support your senior’s balance when getting in and out of the tub or shower.
Non-Slip Bath Mats And Rugs
This is one of the most effective ways to prevent unnecessary bathroom falls. A non-slip mat near the shower will prevent your loved one from falling while showering.
Likewise, a non-slip rug on the floor – outside the shower area – will prevent your loved one from slipping while he or she is out of the shower. Non-slip tape is another great low-cost option for tub bottoms and shower pans.
Raise The Height Of The Toilet
Raising the height of the toilet by at least three inches is another great option to make the bathroom safe for seniors.
Most seniors find it difficult to get up once they sit because of the low height of the toilet. There are many ways of raising the height of your existing toilet, such as replacing the old one with a taller “comfort height” toilet or simply raising the height with a thick toilet seat.
Round faucets are difficult for elders because of the twisting and turning involved in opening and closing. A lever faucet is an ideal option to eliminate this twisting and turning.
When opting for lever faucets, you can choose from various styles available on the market, including foot-operated faucets.
You can even use DIY methods to install a lever faucet in your bathroom.
Remove The Shower Clutter
Sporting through several bottles and items while showering isn’t ideal for your loved one.
An elder person can slip and fall while trying to sort through all these items in the bathroom. Don’t leave multiple shampoo bottles, conditioners, soaps, and sponges in your bathroom.
Make sure you remove all the shower clutter to make your bathroom elder-safe. Keep only what the senior person needs in the shower and place them in an easily reachable place.
Barrier-Free Walk-In Showers
This is important if your loved one or elderly parent uses a walker or a wheelchair or has trouble lifting his/her legs.
Getting over a seemingly small hump could sometimes be daunting for such a person.
That’s where barrier-free shower stalls come in handy. You may even remodel the shower area as a walk-in shower. A handyman can easily handle this type of work in your bathroom.
Pull-out drawers are a better option in the bathroom than a cupboard. Your parent can quickly grab a towel or washcloth from a pull-out drawer. You should ensure that there is an easily accessible place to store everyday items for your loved one.
Bathrooms have slippery surfaces and a few dependable things to grab onto if your loved one suddenly slips and falls.
Injuries from bathroom-related accidents are soaring across the United States. That’s why you need to make your bathroom senior-safe to prevent slip and fall accidents. I hope you find this information on how to improve the safety of your parent or senior while in the shower helpful!
Regarding showering, the battle between caregivers and seniors can be a war without end. There will be days when there is no opposition and other days when seniors downright refuse to shower.
Bathing frequency can have a direct impact on shower safety for seniors. So, in this article, I will discuss how often an elderly person should shower and why exactly they may not want to in the first place.w
Is Daily Bathing Necessary for Older Adults?
The fact of the matter is that elderly people do not need to take a shower every day. Shocking right? Perhaps this is not the answer you were expecting.
In many parts of the world, adults are already taking a bath every day. In fact, others would give you the side eye if you were to disclose that you do not shower daily.
For seniors, however, daily showers are not necessary. Why? Because as you age, the antioxidants generated by the skin reduce, which results in changes in body odor. This recommendation definitely comes as a relief to many caregivers!
The skin also produces less oil, making it more susceptible to bruising and tearing. Considering this reduction in moisture, one or two baths a week are sufficient as their skin tends to be very sensitive.
Seniors also face a lot of discomforts when showering because of their privacy invasion and bathroom slippage risks.
That said, fewer baths are encouraged, and you should not feel ashamed. They’re not just comforting to seniors – they’re safer too.
Reasons Why Seniors and Elderly May Not Want to Shower
So you’ve tried to get your elderly loved one to shower repeatedly, but they won’t budge? (Here are some creative ways to get an elderly person to shower.)
Before you dismiss this behavior as plain stubbornness, it is worth confirming with their doctors if other factors are causing such issues.
Here are some reasons why seniors may not want to shower.
A trip to the bathroom is bound to cause withdrawal and become frightening for many seniors. What with all the surfaces made out of hard and slippery surfaces, the bathroom becomes a hazardous environment for your beloved elderly folk.
Other movements, such as undressing and reaching for bathing supplies, pose a significant risk for falls and slips. These activities do not inspire confidence and make seniors fear an encounter with the bathroom.
As you age, you become increasingly dependent on safety aids and caregivers to assist with daily tasks. For seniors, being able to shower and use the toilet without help is a coveted experience.
When they lose control over such a situation, it becomes challenging to convince them to shower as previously they could pride themselves on being independent and maintaining their dignity.
This change results in rebellion in an attempt to regain control.
3. Lack of Smell
As age slowly creeps up on seniors, their five senses gradually fade away. In particular, the sense of smell weakens and makes the elderly oblivious to pungent body odors such as sweat and urine that have built up over hours or even days.
Without this crucial sense, a senior may be perplexed as to why you are insisting on regular showers while, in actuality, they smell just fine!
When it comes to the elderly, depression can take many different forms, including a loss of interest in cleaning up. It may be appropriate to visit the doctor if a senior suddenly loses interest in maintaining their hygiene.
You should also try to determine whether the rapid change in mood is caused by poor energy or a lack of interest in everyday tasks.
Either of these reasons may explain why they are hesitant to take regular showers. Talk to a professional if they match up with other signs of depression.
5. Reduced Social Interactions
When you get out of your house to interact with friends and family, most people need to shower. This thought is absent in seniors, especially those with limited mobility.
Therefore, seniors may see no point in taking a bath if they can no longer mingle with others and attend social gatherings.
While many people may attribute forgetfulness as a common occurrence in the elderly, it is worth noting that other seniors may have undiagnosed dementia.
Dementia may cause an elderly loved one to skip out on their shower routine, thinking they have already completed this task.
Dementia also heightens confusion and fear among the elderly. This condition may cause anxiety if the senior or elderly person cannot see the source of the water dripping onto their heads.
7. Lack of Energy and Discomfort
Some elderly folks feel they lack the energy to bathe because it is challenging. To some, the process doesn’t seem worth the effort, especially considering the physical risks involved.
Even seemingly unimportant problems, like walking onto the chilly bathroom floor or feeling ice cold after exiting the water, might add up and make bathing seem too much of an effort.
Alternatives to Showering
When caring for seniors, keeping them clean does not mean a full bath or shower has to be involved. Maintaining good hygiene and cleanliness is essential, but a sponge bath that covers all the necessary bits will do.
On days that prove difficult to get seniors into the shower, feel free to encourage them with the following showering alternatives:
- Use a wet cloth to wipe their underarms, faces, and private parts
- Women should wipe private parts from front to back to avoid urinary tract infections
- During hot weather, use a soft cloth when wiping their skin as it is prone to tearing
- Use mild bath products that help maintain moisture and are gentle on the skin
- Incorporate water cleansers and rinse shampoos
- To retain warmth and privacy, uncover and wipe only the body part that requires washing
Once or Twice a Week is Perfectly Fine
Caring for elderly citizens requires patience and time, especially concerning hygiene and cleanliness. To avoid unending quarrels and battles, it is not a must that seniors shower daily.
Given their limited mobility, sensitive skin, and state of mind once or twice a week is sufficient to maintain good body hygiene.