Steppin’ Out – the Safe Way
Steppin’ Out used to be fun. It meant dressing up in our best clothes and going out for an evening of entertainment. It often included dancing. The expression was used mostly in the early 1900s to reflect going out on a date and participating in the era’s high society nightlife.
Today, the expression Steppin’ Out may mean potential danger for seniors when stepping out of a bathtub or shower.
Key Bathtub and Shower Safety Issues
According to the Center for Disease Control in the US, more falls occur in the bathroom than any other room in the house. And two-thirds of bathroom injuries occur near a tub or shower.
The biggest dangers around tubs and showers are:
1. Stepping over the tub wall and slipping on wet floors, and
2. Leaning on or holding on to shower curtains, glass shower doors or towel racks for balance when stepping out of the tub or shower. Shower stall doors, shower curtains, and towel bars are not strong enough to support a person’s weight and should not be used getting into and out of the tub or shower.
As we age, many of us experience more challenges with mobility, with our vision, and with keeping our balance. Where we used to enjoy a warm, relaxing bath to calm nerves and ease little aches and pains, now just climbing into the tub and sitting down can be difficult and uncomfortable.
Getting up and climbing out of the tub can be equally difficult when our legs are not as strong as they once were and floors are slippery. Thank goodness we can return to the luxury of safe bathing with a few precautions and safety measures.
Safety Check-List for Showers and Bathtubs
1. Keep bathroom floors clean and dry.
2. Use a non-slip bath mat outside your tub or shower. Ensure that your bath mat is big enough so that you can step out of your tub or shower from any point and not have to take a longer step than may be safe.
3. Install non-slip treads or a non-slip bath/shower mat inside the tub. Keep the tub and tub mat clean to avoid slippery soap scum or left over bath oil. Ensure that this inside-the-tub/shower mat is long enough so that you can step out safely.
Try the long bath mat with invigorating massage features or try the the long bath mat with temperature indicator to ensure your water temperature remains safe and comfortable.
4. Use a shower curtain with little weights at the bottom to help it stay inside the tub when using the tub or shower. This prevents water from leaking onto the floor around the tub.
5. Consider using a curved shower rod that gives you a little extra elbow room while using the shower or tub. This extra room helps to keep the shower curtain liner from sticking to your body when showering. Make sure the shower curtain liner is long enough to stay inside the tub when using a curved shower rod.
6. Use a bathtub bench or chair that fits over the edge of the tub with legs inside and outside the tub. You sit on the bench and slide across. This helps you get into, and out of, the tub. Remember that a bath bench is a little heavier than a bath chair which makes it a little heavier to move out of the way if you choose not to use it at a later time. If you are not sure whether a bath bench is for you, try renting it for awhile to see if it suits your needs.
7. Have grab bars professionally installed. Grab bars come in a variety of lengths, textures and styles, and will help you balance as you stand or sit, as well as giving you something to hold if you begin to fall. Grab bars are usually positioned at the best height for you on the wall at both ends of the tub. These bars are solidly attached to the wall so that you can put your weight on them when getting in or out of the tub. You may also want to have a grab bar professionally installed on the back wall of the tub about mid way along the tub. This grab bar is very handy when sitting down in the tub – it helps avoid “plopping” into the tub when first getting in. This grab bar also helps lift yourself from a sitting position after having a bath.
8. Use a bath tub rail as you enter or leave the tub. There are many different styles that fit over the tub edge without damaging the tub. Be sure to select the right height and grip style to suit your needs. Using a bath rail can eliminate the fear of slipping in the tub and can bring real pleasure back to bathing.
9. Install a call button or intercom to help you feel more secure. If you are really concerned about falling in or about your tub or shower wear a call button bracelet or necklace. This should give you the assurance that if you do fall, even after taking all the above precautions, there will be someone who can come to your assistance.
10. Once you have stepped out of the tub, sit down to dry off. Use your toilet lid or your rollator to sit on to dry your legs and your feet.
Now, wasn’t that a great experience – having a luxurious bath or warm shower knowing you are totally safe stepping in or stepping out of your tub!,