Winnie the Pooh offers this wise advice; “Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.” ― A.A. Milne
January 2014 has been designated as National Bath Safety month.
Bathrooms are one of the most dangerous areas of our homes. One of my pet peeves when I visit or work in various communities is the lack of sufficient (or any) safety assistance devices in the bathrooms. Towel bars, door handles and shower door handles do not hold the weight of adults when we automatically reach out for something to break a fall.
Here are some stats from the CDC’s bathroom injuries report:
- 81% of all bathroom injuries were caused by falls
- Head/neck was the most common body part injured (31%)
- most patients were treated and released, but 13.7% were admitted, and
- Bathing, showering or getting out of the tub or shower was the most common cause of bathroom injury (37.3%).
When I bought my first condominium, almost 30 years ago, a wonderful friend suggested that I have a shower installed in the downstairs lavatory. When I asked why, she told me that if I broke my leg or for whatever reason I could not climb the stairs, I could always make a bedroom on the first floor but it would be difficult to take a shower if the only bath was up stairs! I had the shower installed and it proved to be extremely helpful and I was 30 years younger at the time.
Among my neighbors, some well up in age but still physically active, feel they do not need these safety devices and are indignant to think they might need them. They remind them of hospitals and nursing homes, so they do not want to think they are old enough to require this type of assistance. It always amazes me that architects and developers who are designing these communities fail to make these feature standard in at least one of the unit’s baths. In today’s market place there are safety devices that are more stylish and architecturally appealing for the modern and design conscious aging population.
Communities who cater to aging baby boomers and older adults need to install ‘aging friendly’ bathroom assistance devices. A few of my neighbors, who are thinking pro-actively, are converting at least one of their baths to be more ‘aging friendly’. They have removed the tub/shower and low toilet in favor of a walk in shower and hi-rise toilet. Also installing safety grab bars in the shower and other spaces in the bath area. It is always wise to be pro-active rather than to react when situations occur.
I do not like to use cliches but, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Grabbing a shower curtain doesn’t help much when you slip and the curtain and rod fall with you. The same with the towel and toilet paper holders they are flimsier than the curtain rod; and slippery floors and tile are disasters waiting to happen.
Put pride in your back pocket and be safe rather than sorry!