One of every three people over the age of 65 will fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of accidental injury, whether or not they are fatal. Upwards of 75% may be due to falls in the bathroom. These falls often change an elder’s life and can drastically change a family’s life. This means that it’s time to check out the shower…before tragedy happens.
Grab Bars: There are several different ways to use grab bars for showers. One of the best is to have one grab bar at the entrance to the shower and then grab bars around the enclosure. This helps the elder maintain balance getting in and out of the enclosure.
No Lip Showers: There are two ways of doing this. One is to slant the shower floor slightly and put the drain towards the corner. The other is to install a drain in the bathroom floor. Some showers do have a small, rubber lip. Discuss what’s best with the elder’s doctor or (if applicable) the nurse case manager.
Shower Chairs: These are wonderful. Some are more like stools, a plastic seat with holes in it on four metal legs. For seniors who have a hard time getting up and down from a sitting position, there are seats with a back and arms. Some of the best are also adjustable. If a shower chair is going to be used, the grab bars in the shower should be at a lower height.
Wand Shower Heads: If the elder is sitting down to take a shower it’s difficult to get a standard shower head to hit where it’s needed. A wand on a flexible hose makes things a lot easier. It can also make it a lot messier for the person assisting, but it’s worth it.
Finding Suitable Assistants: Our elder does *not* want anyone from the facility to oversee her showers. I can’t blame her, I’d feel the same way. Therefore, as the only female within 500 miles, I get the job. This is the only way we can get her in the shower. I seriously doubt our elder is alone, so you may have to look to family members for an assistant.
You may be wondering why she needs an assistant. Even with all of the safety precautions at the facility, our elder is still at risk in the shower. While I will do my best to prevent falls, being there with her means I can get help to her faster if she does.
Cleanliness is probably more important to our elders because their skin is delicate. While bed baths help, getting into the shower is the best way to get clean. Our elders bathed us as babies, it’s up to us to return the favor.