OK, this is one of those posts that you pray you never need, but when you do it sure is nice to have someone else’s experiences as a back-up guide.
Many of my blogging friends are in the same age group as I (yes, we’re old but still damned vital!) and probably know all of this already…but for those who have aging parents or siblings, those who are just starting the blessed journey into decrepitude…YOU might want to pay attention for a bit.
One of the ways we can remain fairly healthy is to protect against falls with safety equipment throughout the house. This shouldn’t be too difficult actually.
Parents check throughout their homes before they bring home their first child, storing away items that could hurt their little one. As we age, we need to do the same. Instead of looking at your home as a repository of stuff and more stuff, try and imagine things that could end up being hazardous….like area rugs without a protective nonskid backing. Or chairs without an armrest.
It’s easy to clear areas so you don’t trip and fall over them, until you think about the bathroom. People tend to put off doing anything to this room until it is absolutely necessary. it should be the first room checked for safety.
This seems to be a room that people put off until the last minute…or until that hip needs a few pins in it to keep it in place. Tubs, toilets, sinks, that little brush in a stand for cleaning things, that rug that slips all over the floor. This is the one room that needs to be looked at first.
93% of falls in the home do NOT occur on stairs..they occur in the bathtub. Yep…that place where we pray our Calgon can really take us away from it all.
Getting in and out of a bathtub when one’s knees are arthritic …or just plain OLD, is difficult at best and dangerous at worst. At a minimum, there needs to be a safety rail…….something that is strong enough and stable enough to hold your full weight.
Taking out the tub entirely and replacing it with a shower is the best course of action, but that is an expensive fix. A simple bathtub rail is adjustable, costs less than $30.00 and can be moved from site to site.
A railing on an inside tub wall is also a good idea, and costs anywhere from $20.00 on up depending upon style.
DON’T get these stick on shower bars. frankly, they work for a day or so then slip off. Constant cleaning of the tub walls and reapplying these rails make them a pain in the patootie! get a non-adjustable safety rail and install directly into the wall.
For toilets, a safety rail is one of the easiest items to install. Most can be installed along with the toilet seat and provide a means of easy access. Try and stay away from using just an elevated toilet seat. These are difficult to keep clean and do not provide additional safety for a mobility-impaired person. It’s actually easier to fall when using one of these seats without a railing system of some sort.
Honestly, one of the best things I ever did for myself was install a toilet rail system like the one pictured above. There are days when I simply can not stand without assistance (have a ruptured disc in lumbar region) and the ONLY thing that kept me from screaming loud enough to wake the dead when standing was the safety rails.
When I was first injured I needed a nurse or home health aide to get me from one room to the bath and back. With the help of the safety equipment I can take care of myself. I researched the different brands and styles and after some really bad choices (I thought I was saving money) I discovered the BEST (in my opinion) company for all safety equipment regardless of room placement.
That company is Medline. They may be a bit more expensive, but the products they make are durable, easy to clean, designed for specific medical needs and easy to order. Medline is the number one manufacturer of hospital and nursing home supplies in the US.
I hope this post helps someone who may be thinking about how to make their home safer as they age.
Cartoons courtesy of GeezerPlanet
Medline safety equipment pictures from Medline, Inc. with permission