|Bathrooms are used for physical cleanliness and physical comfort. But, a bathroom’s hard, slick surfaces and protruding metal fixtures can make it a perilous place, especially for older adults with disabilities who struggle with the use of their bathtub, shower, and toilet. Approximately 2/3 of all bathroom injuries in older adults occur while showering and bathing, and approximately ¼ of all injuries occur while using the toilet. Injuries are associated with impairments of balance, reach, grasp and thermal sensitivity.The bathtub follows the swimming pool as the site of drowning in the home. Seizures are the most frequent cause of bathtub drowning in children and young adults between the ages 0f 5-39. Deaths in people over the age of 60 usually follow bathtub falls. Data from The National Safety Council indicates that, on average, 350 people die in the bathtub annually. Approximately 80% of accidental bathroom injuries are the result of falls, with older adults at highest risk. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that people who are over the age of 65 are 150% more likely than younger people to be admitted to a hospital Emergency Department after a fall. As Senior Citizens continue to age, the National Center for Health Statistics documents an increase in their need for assistance with bathroom activities, placing both Senior citizens and caretakers at risk for falling.
Bathroom modifications, often minor and inexpensive, can enhance security in the bathroom. Elevated toilet seats with arms and adjacent, anchored grab bars can make the use of a toilet safer for people with physical disabilities, frailty and problems with balance. Motor lifts can reduce the risk of injury to caretakers and people whom they struggle to lift. Good lighting reduces the risk of falling over unseen objects. Shower seats with backs, shower hoses, bath mittens and brushes with long handles can increase independence in bathing. Transfer benches with backs, bath mats, and non-slip flooring will reduce the risk of injury while entering or leaving the bathtub/shower. In case of emergency, monitored telephones and/or intercoms should be placed within reach.
In keeping with the principles of Universal Design, bathrooms should be useful and attractive to people of all ages and different abilities.
|*Service Providers who are certified by the Disability Know-It-All LLC have successfully met the requirements of our assessment process and successfully participate in our company's education program.
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