Health Risks to Seniors Without Walk-in Bathroom Access

November 14, 2019

Have you ever slipped and fallen in your own shower, only to recover yourself in the nick of time? You were lucky, sure, but you didn’t opt in for fixing that, did you? You carried on with your day. Imagine, then, how a senior citizen may feel if they are in the same boat as you…only for them, they weren’t as fortunate.

Bathrooms are the number one area in homes and facilities where risk of injury and accidents occur, and they can all be deadly to seniors. If your home does not include walk-in access to the shower or the bathtub, and yet a senior lives with you, it’s high time you fix that. To make a point clearer, these are the many health risks you take if your loved one doesn’t have access to a walk-in shower or bathtub.

Slips and Falls

By far the number one cause of accidents in the bathroom is slipping and falling. According to one study, an estimated 1 in 3 seniors over 65 years old is more likely to fall at least once per year. Almost half of those who fall experience a minor injury while 5-25% of seniors are more likely to sustain a more serious injury such as a sprain or fracture. While improvements in bathrooms have been seen since the study was first conducted, slips and falls to this day remain a severe danger to seniors.

Bruises and Broken Bones

When you reach a certain age, it can take so much longer for things like bruises and broken bones to heal, which are caused by the aforementioned slipping and falling. This is why it matters so much that you keep your bathroom safe. Falls can be prevented if you get the right tools you need to make your bathroom safer.

Not every senior can stand for a very long time either, depending on the state of their legs and overall health. This is why ensuring there is good seating in the bathroom matters so much; it allows seniors to take a break from standing when they’ve reached their limit.

Head Injuries

Some seniors may desire more to avoid their bath time for fear of head injuries. Concussions and head trauma are no joke, so they may feel their fear is justified if the bathroom contains no accessible elements. However, you absolutely have to ensure seniors are kept clean, because if not, it can lead to the next potential health risk:

Infections

Some seniors may be so scared of slipping and falling that they refuse to go into the bathroom to bathe entirely. This is bad too, for a few reasons. Infections such as fungal and bacterial are more likely to occur in seniors who do not take a bath for more than 1 week. These infections usually occur on the skin and hair and can be unwittingly passed to others who get close as well, such as gastroenteritis.

Skin breakdown

We all know it’s important to keep clean, but did you know that it’s just as bad for your health to overdo bathtime? Even as you age, your body builds and rebuilds its skin constantly. However, scrubbing too hard on the top of your skin can cause breakdown to occur.

The average number of baths a senior needs is once a week unless they get stinky after exerting themselves such as walking a lot outside or working in the garden (because, like the bathroom, every senior has their level of ability and thus will have different needs). Skin breakdown can make room for more serious health issues to arise, because they’ll be more vulnerable to catching them.

How to lessen these health risks

There are plenty of ways to make your bathroom less of a health hazard and more of a safe place for seniors:

  • Install grab bars in the shower and bathtub and nearest to the toilet for seniors to catch on to and prevent slips, falls, and head injuries.
  • Install showers that are more accessible to, again, prevent falls or slips.
  • Install seating with cushioning that can be easily removed and cleaned to avoid spreading germs and viruses.
  • Minimize bathtime to at least once a week to prevent skin breakdown.

Lessening these risks may require a lot of work, effort, and money, but the end result will be a bathroom that everyone is happy with using.

Give your loved one a bathroom they can feel safe in. If your bathroom needs to be renovated for seniors, give our team at Accessible You a call.