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Bathroom Safety for the Elderly

Bathroom Safety for the Elderly
19th June 2013

The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality estimates that roughly one-third of elderly adults aged 65 and over in Australia suffer at least one slip and fall accident per year. One of the biggest areas of concern for slip and fall accidents is the bathroom, where slick surfaces can cause seniors to lose their footing and stumble.

Bathrooms can also pose other risks for the elderly that many people are unaware of, and with seniors living longer than ever before, many people are now investing in bathroom remodelling and other plumbing projects to ensure the safety of their loved ones. If you have a family member who is age 65 or over, you should consider taking these safety precautions to protect him or her in the bathroom.

1. Maintain safe water temperatures. Elderly people often take longer to bathe than other adults, and as a result many people with traditional tank hot water heaters find that they run out of water frequently. As a result, many make the mistake of turning the water temperature up too high, raising the risk of burns. A safer option is to invest in a continuous flow hot water heater or a Smartstart hot water system, both of which ensure that there is ample hot water available on demand.

2. Invest in improvements. If there is a bathtub in the bathroom, adding safety bars or a bath seat can make it easier for an elderly family member to get in and out of the tub. Some homeowners prefer to have their tubs replaced and a walk-in shower with a seat installed instead. Showers are often easier for seniors to enter and exit, as they require less bending.

3. Cover the floors. Nonslip mats should be placed in front of the sink, tub and shower in bathrooms used by the elderly. A similar nonslip surface should also be installed on the floor of the shower and tub.

4. Keep necessities within easy reach. Wash cloths, towels, soaps and other bathing essentials should be placed in an area that is easy for seniors to access. Towels should also be within arm's reach.

5. Light up the hallway. Slip and fall accidents often occur at night when seniors are on their way to the bathroom. By using nightlights in the hall and inside of the bathroom, you can help your family member see more clearly.

6. Modify the bathroom for wheelchair-bound seniors. Switching to a floating sink and raising the electrical sockets are absolute musts when an elderly family member becomes wheelchair bound.

Sydney Emergency Plumbing can assist with many remodelling and improvement projects to help make seniors safer. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you and your family.

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