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Making your Bathroom Safer for Older Folks

Making your Bathroom Safer for Older Folks

As you may know, I'm a retired nurse practitioner. Back many years ago in my nursing school days....we studied nursing care of the geriatric patient. One of those topics was injuries from falls. Falls are the leading cause of death by injury in the 65 and older age group. This means more die from falls, than in car accidents! This is huge! Back in school, our nursing instructor went on and on about "safe environment" "non skid shoes" "cords running across floors" "water spills" and so on and so on. You can imagine the amount of eye rolling and sighing that went on in a room full of twenty somethings. I mean....old people fall, it's a fact of life. Young ones too sometimes. Please understand, I was not one of those twenty-somethings in the class, I was middle aged when I started to nursing school and Carrie had just started the first grade. She was a little younger than that in this pic. Most of the instructors were my age or younger. Of course I had already been in the work force for 15 years or so and gave up my full time job to go to nursing school. Now that was scary! Going to college to me was a big thing. Everyday I wore a nice skirt, blouse, low heeled pumps and little bow ties or neck ties that were so popular in the 1980's along with big hair. Most of the "kids" going to nursing school were right out of high school and most thought I was one of the Well, those old people that we learned how to treat in nursing school.....are us!!!! Gracious.....when did it happen? I must have not been paying attention.....because all of a we are. The geriatric population. Broken bones, head injuries....can be devastating. Anything that we can do to prevent falls should be taken seriously. We recently moved into our new house, our retirement home))) We opted to go ahead with some features to the house that we might need at some point. So today, I'm sharing some safety points about grab bars for the bathroom. We have two tile showers with tile floors, and the floors in the bathrooms are tile. The shower floor in the master bath was designed to be level with the floor (no threshold) so that a rolling chair or walker (or something of that sort) could be used to get into the shower, plus the door way is wide and open. The opening doesn't look that wide in the image, but it's plenty wide. The floor is flat and shower floor dips slightly in the center to drain well.

For water protection we just use a clear shower curtain tucked neatly behind the partial wall of the opening. For the shower, we chose a Delta Traditional Grab Bar. It's 24" in length and comes in several different styles and colors. We went with the stainless since the fixtures in the bath were brushed nickel.
Delta Traditional 24" Grab Bar
Delta 24" Traditional Grab Bar
The bar is attractive and doesn't look so "institutional." The bar will be secured just inside the shower door. Although this is a newly constructed home, these bars can be added to existing homes, you just have to be sure that it gets secured into the 2 x 4 behind the tile. There are also other styles of bars that can be used to attach by suction to shower stalls. Having a bar installed into the wall just sounds more secure. For the bathtub area, and I know my time using this lovely deep bathtub is limited. It's so hard to pick out a bathtub! I sat in this bathtub more than once before deciding on the style....and on the very first time I used it.....I fell!! It's very deep and it's long. We got the longer style because my husband is tall. But, once it's filled with water and I sit down in it, zip! It's like a water slide! When I try to lean back, zoommmmmm! I slide down toward the drain and I swear, my head could go under water! Well, right off the bat we knew this wasn't going to be functional for me anyway in the long term. The first thing I did was get a rubber mat to go in the bottom So, the next place for a grab bar is just above the bathtub. We decided to use a 12" bar here in the same style and color.
Delta 12" Traditional Stainless Grab Bar
You might want to note the prices on the grab bars, there isn't much difference in price, so be sure to get the size you want.
Delta Traditional Stainless 18" Grab Bar
We chose an 18" bar to go beside the toilet. Again, this may be a very boring blog post, but falls need to be avoided at all cost. One fall can result in anything from death to minor injury. Even a temporary loss of independence is a grave concern for the retiree. Stay Safe!
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