Falls in and around the bathtub are one of the leading causes of injuries for older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults aged 65 and over falls each year. These falls can lead to injuries and even deaths, so it’s important to take precautions to avoid them.

Bathtubs can be dangerous places for seniors if proper precautions are not taken, but with a little bit of care, they can safely enjoy this relaxing activity. If you or a loved one is a senior, take some time to review bathtub safety tips to help prevent accidents and injuries.

Below are a few simple things that seniors — and those who love them — can do to stay safe in the bathtub. Let’s take a quick look at what it takes to keep older adults as safe as possible when using the tub. 

Common Accidents in the Bathtub for Seniors

Every year, thousands of seniors are injured in bathroom accidents. Most of these accidents occur in the bathtub or shower, where seniors are more likely to fall and injure themselves. 

The most common injuries in the bathtub include: 

• Slips and falls resulting in broken bones, joint dislocation, sprains, and serious head and spine injuries

• Contusions and abrasions

• Burns from scalding water

• Drowning

Most injuries occur due to the slippery nature of bathroom surfaces such as tile and porcelain. When wet (which is often), bathtub surfaces are extremely slippery and create a highly unstable environment. Avoid trips to the emergency room by following the bathtub safety for seniors tips below. 

Tips for Bathtub Safety for Seniors

There are several things that seniors and their caretakers can do to help prevent bathroom accidents.

Eliminate Clutter

Remove all clutter from around the bathtub. This includes shampoo bottles, soap dishes, loofahs, etc.

Non-Slip Flooring

Place a non-slip mat inside and outside of the tub. You can also place non-slip adhesive strips in the tub and apply anti-slip treatment on the floor. If your budget allows it, consider installing non-slip bathroom flooring such as cork or anti-slip vinyl. 

Grab Bars

Install grab bars next to the tub and toilet, as well as in the tub area. Consider having them installed professionally to ensure maximum stability. Omicelo does not recommend using grab bars with suction cups.  

Shower Bench

Invest in a shower chair or bench to use when bathing. By giving them a sturdy seat, they’ll be less likely to slip while bathing.

Supervision

Sometimes bathing alone just isn’t safe.  Although it can feel like an invasion of privacy, talk with your family member and discuss options for them to get support in the bathroom.  

Phone

Keep a cell phone (or other emergency alert device) within reach in case of an emergency.

How to Prevent Falls in the Bathtub

Here are a few additional things to keep in mind for ensuring the utmost bathtub safety for seniors. 

Cleanliness

Keeping the bathtub clean and free of soap scum can help prevent falls. Wash the tub at least weekly to prevent hazardous molds from growing in the grout and corners of the bathtub.

Water Temperature

Make sure the water temperature is not too hot or too cold before getting in, as this can also be dangerous. According to the CDC, more than 70 people die each year from scalding water in the home. 

Consult a Physician

If you have any medical conditions that affect balance or mobility, talk to your doctor about challenges to taking a bath/showering. Your healthcare provider may offer more specific directions for staying safe while bathing. 

Lights

Keeping your bathroom well-lit can also help you avoid accidents in the bathtub. Be sure to have a light fixture with at least two working bulbs installed. Also, consider installing a night light for increased safety during dark hours. 

What to Do if You Have a Fall in the Bathtub

Falls are the leading cause of injuries and deaths from injury among seniors, so it’s important to be especially careful when using bathtubs. Slippery surfaces can make falls more likely, so have a plan in place in case an injury occurs. 

If a resident does fall and injure themselves in the bathroom, it is important to seek medical attention right away as they may be at risk for further injuries or complications. If you’re unsure of just how serious the injury is, call 911. 

When possible, try to make the injured person comfortable without moving them too much. A couple of pillows can go a long way in keeping them at ease until help arrives. Be sure to have a robe, blanket, or large towel handy to cover them up and avoid as little embarrassment as possible. 

If you have questions or would like some additional guidance regarding bathtub safety for seniors, call the experts at Omicelo Health. Our team works with homeowners to create a safe home environment so older residents can live at home independently. We’re always happy to talk!

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