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Shower Slips: Fall Prevention in the Bathroom

Mar 30, 2016

Shower Slips: Fall Prevention in the Bathroom

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Every year, millions of people end up in the emergency room due to slipping and/or falling. While individuals of all ages are prone to falling and becoming injured, the likelihood of falling increases greatly with age.

Seniors account for a large number of fall-related injuries that happen each year, and there are many things that may lead to a fall. Seniors may be suffering from other age-related injuries or ailments, making it more likely that they become a victim of falling. Lower body weakness, limited mobility or difficulty with walking and balance, and vitamin D deficiencies all make seniors more susceptible to slipping and falling. Another aspect of aging that may increase the likelihood of falling is medication. Sedatives and antidepressants can create problems with balance, causing a senior to fall.

Scary Fall Statistics

  • If a senior falls and is not seriously injured, 47 percent of the time they cannot get up without assistance.
  • 1 out 5 falls leads to injuries like broken bones or head fractures.
  • Each year, 250,000 seniors fracture a hip due to falling.
  • Approximately 50 percent of seniors that suffer a fracture due to falling will fall again within the next year.
  • According to the Center for Disease Control, 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling.

Fall Prevention in the Bathroom

Unfortunately, about 80 percent of senior falls happen where people are the most vulnerable – in the bathroom. Bathroom falls are common for a number of reasons; stepping into the tub is too difficult, being unaware that the floor is wet, bath mats that don’t stay in place, and detached bathroom rugs are just a few of them.

Thankfully, there are many ways seniors and caregivers can fall proof their bathrooms to lessen or eliminate the likelihood of a fall. Here are some of the steps to take to ensure the bathroom is a safe-zone for seniors:

  • Rid the bathroom of anything that a senior may trip over. This may include bathroom rugs that are not attached to the floor, as well as any decorative items that may be on the floor (magazine rack, trash can, etc.).
  • Add grab bars near the toilet and in the shower. The bathroom typically doesn’t have anything stable enough for a senior to grab if they feel dizzy or unbalanced, which results in grabbing things like the shower curtain and falling and becoming injured.
  • Provide a shower chair. Shower chairs allow seniors to comfortably sit for periods of time throughout their shower, and provide instant relief if they begin to feel dizzy or unstable.
  • Use non-slip mats in the shower and in the area outside the shower. Bathtubs and showers have a slippery bottom, providing non-slip mats will decrease the chance for a shower-related fall.
  • Use a raised toilet seat with grab bars. It’s often difficult for seniors to comfortably lower themselves onto the toilet seat, so raised toilet seats decrease the chance of them becoming unstable and falling in the process.
  • Caregiver assistance. If an elderly individual is prone to dizzy spells or becomes unstable easily, they should be assisted while in the bathroom.
  • Install a medical alert system. This can be done in a number of ways, and can even be as simple as putting a telephone in the bathroom.

While slippery conditions tend to be the main cause for bathroom falls, there are many things a senior can do to help prevent falls in the bathroom, in the house and anywhere else!

  • Seniors should get their eyes checked at least two times a year. It’s common for seniors to begin to lose their vision, which may cause them to underestimate or over estimate their surrounds.
  • Participate in balancing and strength activities. Exercises that strengthen a senior’s legs or improve their balance will decrease the risk of falling.
  • Seniors should speak to their physicians about their risk of falling.

Seniors and caregivers should discuss what they can do to help lessen the risk of falling in the bathroom and everywhere else!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What's the average recovery time for hip surgery?

This will depend on your overall health and how involved you are with your rehabilitation and healing process. Immediately after the surgery, you or your loved one will stay three to four days overnight. During your recovery time, you will participate in physical therapy for your broken hip, and will also want to continue to rehab your hip with exercises at home. Eventually, within a month you should be able to walk with the help of crutches or a walker. A few months after that, you should be able to walk on your own.

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How does osteoporosis play a role in hip injuries?

Osteoporosis is a decrease in bone density and this means your bones, including your hips, can become extra fragile. Those with osteoporosis have a higher chance of injuries resulting in broken bones. Those with osteoporosis can break or fracture bones just by sneezing in some severe cases. If you are at risk of developing osteoporosis, contact your doctor to discuss which treatment options might be most appropriate for you. 

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