January is National Bath Safety Month – a great reminder to assess safety and take a few precautionary measures to prevent injuries in the bathroom.
Bathrooms are places where there is an especially high risk of falls for anyone, but particularly for seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of four seniors fall every year, resulting in serious injuries like broken bones, head injuries, and hip fractures. This month, Dr. Megan Teeples, a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Physician at Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital, and Dr. Brett Helmonds, a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialist at Texas Vista Medical Center, are sharing tips for avoiding bathroom related accidents and falls.
Staying Aware of Hazards
When the floor is slippery, surfaces are hard, and the space is small, it’s important to take extra notice of your surroundings according to Dr. Helmonds. Planning where to set your towels and clothes and ensuring clutter isn’t in your path can significantly reduce the risk of unexpectedly tripping and falling. “You always want to set yourself up for success in the bathroom,” Dr. Helmonds said.
Making the Bathroom Safer
Built-in features like railings and grab bars are important for bathroom safety, but there are many other fast and cost-effective ways to make the bathroom easier to navigate. According to Dr. Teeples, equipment like rubber bath mats, toilet seat risers, and shower chairs can help seniors use the bathroom independently while significantly reducing their risk of falling. Additionally, removing any rugs from hardwood or carpet floors and making sure shelves are easy to reach are also some of the simplest methods to improve balance.
Resources for Improving Home Safety
Of course, even if you follow all precautionary measures, accidents can still happen. That’s why Dr. Helmond recommends consulting with a physician or physical therapist about home evaluations, which are typically covered by insurance. Physicians can also direct you to community resources that help seniors age in place by making modifications, such adding ramps or handlebars, which significantly improve the ability to safely move around at home. If you do end up falling, tools like Life Alert can also be lifesavers in emergency situations.
Why We Celebrate National Bath Safety Month
National Bath Safety Month is our call to ensure better health outcomes for ourselves and our loved ones by sharing ways to improve the safety features of our homes. “The more aware we are of what could become a hazard in our homes, the more likely we are to monitor them and make changes if possible,” said Dr. Teeples.
If you have questions about bath safety or fall prevention, Steward Health Care is here to help. Join us in celebrating National Bath Safety Month, and call your local Steward hospital to learn more.
To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.