Senior citizens who are a little unsteady on their feet find a bathtub a dangerous fixture to use. The combination of water and soap creates a slippery surface that’s hard to stand on and can often lead to a nasty fall.
Making a bathtub safe for a senior citizen means improving traction in the tub while also providing something solid to grab onto for support. If you are the caregiver for an aging senior, here are eight easy ways that will help reduce the risk of a bathtub accident:
1. Use a large rubber bath mat or self-adhesive daisies: Rubber bath mats or self adhesive daisies are an easy way to provide traction in a bathtub. Whichever of these two options you use, make sure that the material is large enough to cover the entire floor of the tub.
2. Wear Aqua shoes while showering: Aqua shoes or “water shoes” are special mesh shoes especially designed for water use. The extra traction provided by the water shoe will help prevent a fall on a slippery bathroom floor. Water shoes can be purchased at discount department stores and sport shops, and start as low as $15.
3. Install a wall mount grab bar: Medical supply companies offer a wide assortment of wall mounted grab bars that can be attached to the wall of a shower. Be sure to select a model that can be screwed directly to the wall instead of a model that is merely glued into position.
4. Buy a bath and shower seat: Medical supply companies sell bath shower seats in a wide range of prices and styles. These seats fit neatly into a tub and provide a senior citizen with a place to sit down during a shower. A shower seat also gives a senior something to hang onto while stepping out of the shower as well. A basic shower seat starts as low as $45.
5. Install a tub spout shower: A tub spout shower is a hand held shower that attaches over an existing tub spout, and offers a senior citizen the convenience of a shower without having to stand up. These nifty little devices are designed to fit most tubs and cost around $10. Tub spout showers are found at Walmart, Bath & Bedding stores, and many discount department stores.
6. Avoid oil based body washes and soaps: Body washes and soaps that contain baby oil will leave a slippery film on the floor of a tub or shower which can cause a person to loose their footing. Products containing baby oil are best used AFTER stepping out of the shower instead of during.
7. Buy a hanging rack for soaps: Not all showers come with built in shelves for soaps and shampoos. If your shower is an older “shelf less” model, consider purchasing a hanging storage rack to fit over the existing shower head. A hanging rack gives a senior citizen to store safely store soaps and shampoos, while eliminating the risk of these items dropping to the shower floor where they become tripping hazards. Hanging shower storage racks can be found in the bathroom storage section of most department stores.
8. Install a clamp-on tub handle bar: Clamp on tub handle bars are specially designed safety handles that clamp directly to the side of a tub. These portable safety bars provide a senior citizen with something to grab onto as they exit the tub, and are rated for weights up to 250 pounds. Clamp on tub handle bars are available in drug stores and medical supply stores, and are priced at $65 for a basic model.