bathroom help

Bathroom Safety: How To Prevent Falls

Falls are a common cause of hospitalisation among older people.

So, now is the time to look around your place or your folks’ place and take steps to reduce the risk of falls, starting with the slipperiest room of all – the bathroom. It’ll help reduce pressure on hospitals during the pandemic and it’ll also help to protect yourself or your loved ones from the often devastating effects of a fall.

How Falls Affect Older People

You’re more likely to fall as you get older. There are many reasons for that, including age-related changes in balance, vision, strength and cognitive function. As you get older, you’re also more likely to be living with health conditions and taking medications, some of which can increase the risk of falling.

In 2016-17, falls caused 75% of all hospitalisations in people aged 65 and over. The 125,000 older people who were admitted to hospital after falling experienced injuries to the head, hip and thigh.

A serious fall can have long-lasting physical and psychological consequences. It’s often associated with increased dependency on others and reduced quality of life. And, once you’ve fallen, you’re more likely to fall again.


Falls in the Bathroom

We’re all spending more time in the bathroom, these days, singing ourselves ‘Happy Birthday’ twice over while vigorously scrubbing our hands with soap and warm water.

People of any age can – and do – slip over in the bathroom. It’s often slippery when wet, there are lots of hard surfaces and there’s very little to grab hold of to stop yourself toppling over.

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control in the US examined the topic of non-fatal falls in the bathroom. They found that most injuries occurred in or around the bathtub or shower, or on or around the toilet. Indeed, injuries caused by sitting down on or getting up from the toilet became much more common with age, causing more falls than the bathtub or shower among older people.

So, How Do We Make the Bathroom Safer? Here are 7 Top Tips:

  1. Higher toilet: A raised toilet seat makes the toilet several centimetres higher and therefore much easier to get on and off. With one purchase, you’ve addressed the most common cause of bathroom falls among older people.
  2. Grab rails: Simply having something to hold onto can reduce the risk of falling. Install grab rails by the toilet, shower and bath so that you can always hold onto something to steady yourself. Get the rails properly screwed into the wall; don’t rely on rails with suction cups.
  3. Non-slip flooring: You could try non-slip mats (stick the edges down to ensure they don’t become a trip hazard) or a non-slip floor treatment.
  4. Shower chair: The heat and humidity when showering can affect some people’s balance. Get a shower chair so there’s always somewhere to sit down to prevent a fall. Look for one with rubber-tipped legs to help keep it in place.
  5. Have the essentials to hand: Install a shower or bath caddy so you can keep shampoo, conditioner, soap and flannels within easy reach rather than leaning over or bending down to get them.
  6. Lighting: Make sure the bathroom is well lit so you can see what you’re doing. You can also use plug-in nightlights to guide the way to the bathroom at night.
  7. Change the door: Rehang the door so it opens outwards rather than inwards. That way, if you do experience a fall, your rescuers can easily pull open the door and help you out, rather than being unable to push the door open because you’re behind it.

How Can Focused Health Care Help?

We provide in-home care for older people and people with disabilities across Queensland, with offices in Brisbane and Townsville. Led by Registered Nurses, we understand the impact falls have on older people’s health and wellbeing and we’re skilled at identifying and remedying fall hazards. We can recommend the right mobility aids to make your bathroom safer. We can also help you with personal care like showering, which reduces the risk of a fall.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help, please contact us.

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