Fall Prevention

Avoiding Falls in the Bathroom

Falls Prevention

Avoiding Falls in the Bathroom

Posted By: Beth Tracton-Bishop, PhD

August 03, 2011

How safe is your bathroom to avoid falling?  According to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “an estimated 234,000 people ages 15 and older were treated in U.S. emergency departments…for injuries that occurred in bathrooms. Four out of 5 of these injuries were caused by falls—which can have especially serious consequences for older adults.”   Making your home comfortable and safe for everyone in your life isn’t always easy, but there are a few changes to consider to make your bathroom flexible, functional and safe for everyone.

Showers & Tubs

  • Of prime interest in today’s bathroom renovations is a large shower with a very small curb or, preferably, no curb at all. The shower should have a built-in seat – it’s great for shaving legs, a great storage spot for multiple bath and hair products, and a near-necessity for anyone who has difficulty standing.
  • An adjustable-height shower head that can also be hand-held is the best bet; it works for everyone.

Grab Bars

  • Every shower should have grab bars that are securely attached and strategically placed. Some of the newer models look like attractive towel bars rather than grab bars.  This isn’t only an aging-related need as the CDC research shows, the bathroom is a dangerous room in the house for people of every age – and falls are the most common causes of injury.
  • Even if you’re not interested in adding grab bars, if you are remodeling your bathroom you can block the walls with additional support, so that grab bars could easily be added at a later time without tearing up the walls.

Toilets and Sinks

  • Install a “comfort height” toilet with a seat that is 18 inches high (16-½ inches to the rim) to replace a standard residential toilet.
  • Consider a design for the vanity that would accommodate a person who is seated, with pullback doors hiding the under-cabinet space when it’s not in use.
  • Rounded corners, not sharp edges, on counter tops make the bathroom more comfortable and safe.
  • • Single-lever faucet handles are the easiest kind to maneuver because they don’t require grasping or twisting to operate.

For more ideas on how to design your home with safety, comfort and ease in mind, check out our guidebook Modern Ideas, Modern Living.  You’ll be glad you did!



Fall Facts

 
*1 in 3 older adults fall every year in the US-about 12 million
*Falling is not a normal part of aging
*Half of all falls take place at home
*Although we lose muscle as we age, exercise can help partially restore strength and mobility
*Taking medication can increase your risk of falling
*Vision is another key risk factor for falls
*Walking aids (cane/walker), are important in improving and maintaining mobility
 
Things to think about at home
*Remove tripping hazards---rugs, clutter
*Keep things you need and use often close at hand
*Have grab bars installed where needed-tub/shower/toilet
*Use non-slip mats in shower and use a shower chair if needed
*Check that there is adequate lighting
*Handrails on both sides of stairs
*Always were shoes and avoid slippers that may cause unnecessary falls

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