More than one in three persons over age 65 fall each year at home, often in the bathroom while attempting to shower or bathe. Standing up while showering or attempting to safely climb in and out of the bathtub can be difficult tasks for people with balance and physical limitations. In fact, up to one-third of elders have difficulty getting into or out of a bathtub or shower.
Shower chairs, shower stools and bath benches are a good option to help with bathing safety and fall avoidance.
Shower chairs are ideal for people who have poor balance when showering. A shower chair provides stability for people who have difficulty balancing and also serves as a resting place for those who have difficulty standing for long periods of time. A chair with a back is appropriate for persons with limited back strength or balance. A good shower chair has rubber tips on the legs to prevent sliding and when used with a hand-held showerhead, a person can remain seated while bathing. An advantage of shower chairs is they can easily be removed from the shower when others in the household wish to take a shower.
A bath bench eliminates the problem of stepping in or out of the tub. Benches are ideal for individuals with poor balance or for those having difficulty getting in and out of the bathtub. Individuals can get into the tub safely by sitting down on the bench outside the tub, then sliding over, and into, the tub. The bench is often used with a hand-held showerhead, allowing someone to remain seated while bathing. Benches are available in a variety of sizes and some come with a back support that is appropriate for people with limited balance or who simply want the security of more support.
Regardless of how you choose to get into or out of the shower/tub, the combination of water on tiles can be dangerous. Here are some do’s and don’ts for avoiding slips in the bathroom:
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Rein Tideiksaar Ph.D., PA-C (or Dr. Rein as he is commonly referred to) is the president of FallPrevent, LLC, Blackwood, N.J., a consulting company that provides educational, legal and marketing services related to fall prevention in the elderly. Dr. Tideiksaar is a gerontologist (healthcare professional who specializes in working with elderly patients) and a geriatric physician's assistant. Check out Dr. Rein’s professional profile on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dr-rein/6/759/592 If you have any questions about preventing falls, please feel free to email Dr. Rein at firstname.lastname@example.org.