Bathtub Safety for Seniors

Health and Safety

While soap and water gets us clean, it also provides a slipper surface and potential hazards.

While soap and water gets us clean, it also provides a slipper surface and potential hazards.

While bathtub safety is a concern for everyone, it is especially so for senior citizens.  It is estimated that one third of adults age 60 and over have difficulty climbing into or out of their bathtub or shower.  Slippery conditions and hard surfaces make bathrooms an area of high risk for people to fall and injure themselves.  The statistics are quite sobering, as according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 21,700 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries in 2010 alone.  This is why it is extremely important to take preventative measures against falls in the bathroom.

The first thing you should know is that chances are, your standard bathroom equipment is not stable enough to protect you if you are falling.  For example, sliding glass shower doors are not designed to support a person’s weight, so bracing yourself against one can lead to disaster.  Similarly, towel bars are typically more flimsy than they look and are not safe to grab onto in an emergency.

Thankfully, there are many quality products available for purchase which can greatly improve the safety of your bathroom, or your elderly loved ones bathroom.  These include:

  • Bath safety grip handles– It is highly important that you maintain your sense of balance in the shower in order to avoid falling.  Well-placed and properly installed bath safety handles can help you do just that.
  • Bath safety seats– Unfortunately, some seniors who have difficulty standing in the shower try to solve the issue by bringing a household chair or stool into the tub or shower with them.  This is highly unsafe, as these chairs were not designed to remain stable while sitting on the curved edges of the bathtub.  Instead, you can purchase what is known as a transfer bench, which will help you as you climb in and out of the tub.  A transfer bench allows you to sit down outside of the tub, and then slide over into the tub while still in a seated position.  If you have difficulty with the motion of sliding, self-sliding seats are available as well.  For standalone showers, you can purchase a shower chair which will allow you to sit comfortably while showering.  Even if you have these items, it is still recommended you install at least one safety grip handle as well.
  • Walk-in bathtubs– Walk-in bathtubs are the ideal purchase for bathroom safety.  This is a tub that fully replaces your existing bathtub, and has an open area that allows you to walk in unassisted.  These tubs can have a variety of added features such as heated seating, textured floors, hand-held shower sprayers, and built-in safety grip handles.