Bathrooms are dangerous because they’re small spaces with lots of hard surfaces and corners. On top of that, sitting down and standing up can cause dizziness or unsteady balance because of changes in blood pressure. That could easily lead to a devastating fall.
Over 80% of all falls in the home, happen in the bathroom. Other risks include potential to be scalded if water is too hot; get locked in; carer strain on their back; fear of falling.
Did you know that people use the toilet 7 times a day on average? That’s why bathroom safety is so important – we’re in there all the time!
Ensuring safe bathing: tips for carers
- Make sure the bathroom is clutter free and well lit, day and night
- Check that the floor is not slippery. Remove loose mats, rugs as they can be a trip hazard.
- Make sure that the room is warm before the person undresses. Older people are more sensitive to heat and cold than younger people.
- Ensure you will not be disturbed or distracted and will not have to leave your loved one alone.
- Check that the water temperature is not too hot or too cold. A heat sensor that sticks to the side of the bath changes colour if the bath water is too hot, which can prevent scalding.
- Consider removing locks from the bathroom door, or replace them with locks that can be opened from the outside. Someone with dementia may lock themselves in and panic, or they may go into the bathroom and then forget why they went in.
- Don’t leave cleaning products out. Your loved one might not be able to recognise them and may not understand the dangers they present.
- Family caregivers, don’t forget your own safety. Because family caregivers don’t get formal training in safe lifting and transfer techniques, it’s too easy to hurt yourself when you’re helping out.
- Helping assist with transfer in and out of the bath, make sure you don’t strain your back.
- Hold on to the person you are helping by the trunk or hips. Do not pull with the arms or legs. It is easy for you both to become unbalanced.
- Always bend at the waist.
If you are in any way concerned, talk to a health care professional (an occupational therapist, doctor or nurse) about a home assessment or home adaptive aids that can help you.