There are several simple steps that we can each take to reduce the risk of a fall in the home, beginning with small things like removing clutter from pathways and packing away any throw rugs. When considering larger changes, we have to think about where the danger is greatest, and the most dangerous room in just about any home is the bathroom, with its hard, slick, tile and ceramic surfaces.
Recognizing the danger
For many years Americans have known or at least suspected the dangerous nature of our restrooms, but until recently there was no data to support our fears. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have now begun to research this topic, and the numbers that they have published are staggering. Over two hundred and thirty thousand people were injured near their bathroom sink, shower, or toilet in 2008, and that is only taking into account non-fatal injuries. Around 80% of those incidents were due to falls, and the most common injuries were to the head or neck.
Of course, it is impossible to eliminate all risk, but there are certain steps you can take to improve bathroom safety in your home. Installing equipment such as grab bars and shower chairs will make slipping on a wet floor or tub less likely, or at least offer your loved ones an opportunity to catch themselves, and raised toilet seats will make it easier for the mobility impaired or those who have suffered a broken hip to get on and off the toilet without losing their balance. Speak to your family’s medical provider to learn more about the most common risks to your elderly loved ones and the steps you can take to protect them.