According to the National Institute on Aging, about 80 percent of falls occur in the bathroom, with individuals above 65 years of age being the most affected. This highlights the need to make a bathtub safe for your elderly loved one.
Fortunately, it doesn't cost a lot to increase the safety of your bathtub. Even better, there is an entire industry whose primary goal is to make bathrooms and bathtubs simpler and safer for not only the elderly but also individuals with disabilities.
This article will offer you top critical tips on how to improve your bathtub's safety and step-by-step guidelines on getting your elderly out of the bathtub. It will also recommend helpful YouTube videos to guide you through the process.
How to Make a Bathtub Safe for Elderly: Top Tips
If you want to make your elderly loved one's bathtub safe, the following tips will come in handy:
Installation of Bathtub Lifts
This is a seat with a back that you can install in the bathtub to help the elderly access it. It comes with a remote or a control panel to help lower them into the water easily and conveniently. After they are done bathing, the lift lifts them to a position where they may securely exit the tub with a hit a button.
Bath lifts may seem similar in appearance to bath chairs at first glance. However, unlike bath chairs, the lifts are propelled by a motor and can lower into the water. Ensure you opt for a model that fits your bathtub when purchasing.
Opt for Walk-In Bathtubs
Walk-in tubs have a low threshold entrance that is often just a few inches high. As such, users can walk directly into their bathtub rather than having to navigate the high edge of a regular bathtub. Even better, the molded seat of these tubs is particularly unique in that it allows users to take a bath in an upright, sitting posture while immersed in water, resulting in a therapeutic soak.
What Safety Features Does a Walk-In Tub Have?
A walk-in bathtub offers a variety of safety features, such as the following:
- 1Slip-resistant textured floor surface. Like typical shower non-slip mats, walk-in bathtub floors have a similar design. This feature provides a grip for the tub users, preventing potential falls when standing in the tub.
- 2Unique door seal. Walk-in tubs have rubber seals that prevent water escape from the tub while in use. This is different from a regular tub with a barrier to prevent water from escaping. The elderly find it hard to get over such a barrier while accessing or egressing from the tub.
- 3Exclusive quick drain system. Walk-in bathtubs have a unique drain technology that operates more swiftly than regular tubs. The drainage process is convenient, and it keeps you from sitting for too long after your bath as you wait for the water to drain.
Bathtub Grab Bars
You can make it safer and simpler for your elderly loved ones to access the bathtub by installing grab bars. These bars offer support so you can get in and out of the bathtub without a hassle.
Ensure Bathing Items are Within Reach
Usually, the elderly slip and fall while reaching out for soap, shampoo, or other bathing items. In addition, overstretching when trying to reach these items also contributes to injury. To avoid this from happening, place your loved one's bathing accessories on a convenient level that is easily accessible using hooks and shelves.
Tension Poles Installation
These are similar to grab bars and provide a solid handhold for accessing and egressing from the bathtub. However, they have the added advantage of portability that you can move around with them from room to room or even when traveling.
Bathtub Transfer Bench
The tub chair is similar to the shower chair, but its bench extends over the tub for support. This removes the need to step over the tub wall to enter or exit, reducing the danger of a fall. Alternatively, you can opt for a bathtub board, although it has no back, which makes it less stable, especially for individuals with back problems.
Grab bars and handrails may work even better with the addition of a thin, flexible high-grip tape. This provides a more firm grasp for older adults, even if their hands are moist or greasy or if they don't have a good grip. These tapes are also easy to remove.
Install a Medical Alert System
Bathrooms may be a terrifying area to be stranded in after a fall because they rarely have an emergency response system. As a result, installing an emergency wall button within a reachable distance from the bathtub can be advisable. This way, elderly users can conveniently access it when in need.
How to Get the Elderly Out Of Bathtub (Step-By-Step Instructions)
Getting out of a bathtub can be challenging for the elderly or people with disabilities. Most of them need support to avoid slipping or falling. Here is how you can help your elderly loved to get out of a bathtub:
Using a Bath Lift
Usually, individuals with bath lifts use them to enter and exit a bathtub. This is the most convenient option for those with weak joints. To use it:
- 1Place the senior on the seat before accessing the bathtub. They can also access it themselves with the help of already-installed grab bars or tension poles.
- 2The lift usually has a pendant or hand control to direct it into the tub, and a motor propels it.
- 3Since it has a flat surface, your loved one will shower while on the seat.
- 4Then, the user can press the control on the lift within an arm's reach to raise them off the tub.
Using a Tub Transfer Bench
A tub bench comes in handy when getting out of the bathtub. Here is how it works:
- 1Slide close to the transfer bench's edge. It's even more convenient for those using walk-in tubs.
- 2If using a regular one, lift each leg over the tub barrier and sit on the edge. See the images below.
- 3Using a walker or a tension pole, raise yourself to a standing posture. If you are a caregiver, help your loved one through this step.
YouTube Videos to Guide You through Getting Off a Bathtub
You can combine the above-recommended tips with other available resources such as videos to make it safe for your loved ones. Here are some helpful YouTube videos you can use:
How To Easily Get Seniors In And Out Of The Bathtub
Step2Tub: The Bathtub Safety Step for the Elderly
Getting in and out of tub
The bathing process doesn't necessarily have to be risky for your elderly loved ones. However, with advanced age, your loved ones might not be as strong as they used to be. Ideally, they might have weaker muscles and joints hence the need to maximize safety, and you can start with their bathtub. The above-recommended drills and tips will come in handy if you adopt them strictly.