Your home should be a safe haven but each year injuries around the home contribute to millions of medical visits and many fatalities.
Although anywhere in a home can be the scene of an accident, bathrooms tend to be the most dangerous. Slippery tile, the presence of water, stockpiled medications and hard edges pose hazards in the bathroom, particularly for young children and people aged 65 and up. According to Health Canada, every year, one in three Canadian seniors will fall at least once. Falls can result in serious injuries like hip fractures and head trauma, and about 20 percent of injury-related deaths among seniors can be traced back to a fall.
Many bathroom accidents can be prevented with some simple modifications.
1. Reduce slippery surfaces. Wet tile is a recipe for slick conditions. Bath rugs with rubber backing can provide traction in the bathroom, as can non-slip mats placed on the floor of your tub or shower enclosure; be sure to install mats when the surface is dry. Water-resistant flooring is another option. It is less slippery and more forgiving than traditional tile flooring.
2. Install lever-style fixtures. Round knobs can be difficult to grasp, especially for the elderly or those with arthritis. Lever-style fixtures are easier to maneuver and can help prevent scalding from not being able to adequately adjust water temperature.
3. Make use of transfer benches and shower seats.
A transfer bench can help reduce injuries that occur
when climbing in or out of the tub. Benches are placed outside the tub and a person sits and then swings her legs over the ledge. A transfer bench can be used in conjunction with a shower seat that allows you to safely sit while showering.
4. Discard old medications. Expired or unused medications are often left sitting in medicine cabinets. Check dates regularly and clear out old medications. This reduces the likelihood of medication confusion: an individual may inadvertently take expired drugs that are no longer effective. Drugs that have been prescribed to treat a medical condition, or ones that are sold over-the-counter, may not be safe for everyone. Safe disposal also reduces the possibility that potentially harmful pills or syrups end up in the hands of children.
5. Install grab bars and consider a raised toilet seat. CARP (Canadian Association for Retired Persons) says many injuries to seniors occur when they are attempting to sit or get up from the toilet. Properly installed grab bars around the toilet and shower area provide leverage and stability. Raised toilet seats can also make a considerable difference for people who find it difficult to sit and stand from the toilet by elevating the seat by a few inches.
6. Install motion-detecting lights. Lights that turn on automatically upon detecting movement are beneficial for people who routinely visit the bathroom in the middle of the night. Adequate illumination can help reduce fall risk.