How to Safely Assist with Bathing an Elderly Person and Other Personal Care Tasks

Bathing an ElderlyHow could something that’s so comforting and soothing, like a nice, warm bath, become one of the greatest dangers to older adults? The truth is, the combination of smooth surfaces, slippery soap and hot water create the perfect storm for a fall risk – making bathing an elderly person one of the most serious risks to seniors.

January is designated as National Bath Safety Month, and it’s a great opportunity for both education and assessment to make sure your senior loved ones’ bathroom environment is as safe as possible.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that approximately 370 people suffer bathtub or shower-related injuries each day in the United States. Because most falls in the home occur in the bathroom, AARP recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Install grab bars for the toilet, shower, and tub
  • Install non-skid tile or use non-skid bath mats
  • Adjust temperature setting of home hot water heaters to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to prevent scalds
  • Provide a transfer bench for getting in and out of bath tubs for those who may be at risk of falling when stepping over a tub wall
  • Provide a shower chair to enable bathers to sit while bathing
  • Apply no-slip strips or a slip-resistant mat to bathtub and shower floors
  • Wipe up any water spills on the floor right away

It’s also a good idea to assess whether it might be worthwhile for a senior to utilize a mobile commode, which can be placed at a bedside to ease nighttime bathroom needs. Bedside commodes can reduce the risk of evening falls, and can also be placed directly over the toilet, which is generally sturdier than a raised toilet seat. Features to look for when purchasing a commode:

  • Non-removable armrests
  • Rubber tips on the legs rather than wheels
  • A sturdy frame
  • Both a pail (with lid) and a sleeve (for use over the toilet)

Simple, basic commodes can cost anywhere from $60 to $250, although more complex, specialized commodes, such as those with tilting mechanisms, can run as high as $3,000.

AARP also provides a handy bathroom checklist with design guidelines that can help seniors and their families make the best home modification decisions.

Live Well at Home can also help with bathing an elderly person in a safe, professional manner. We can provide an in-home safety assessment and recommendations, and by offering expert, hands-on assistance at bathtime, ensuring that seniors remain safe throughout all of their bathroom needs. Our care is always delivered with the utmost respect and regard for dignity and privacy. Contact us at 916-459-3220 to learn more about how we provide the kind of personal care Sacramento CA families prefer.

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