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Shower and bathtub safety tips

Safety is important for people of all ages. As we get older, even everyday tasks such as bathing or showering may pose unforeseen risks. This is especially true for those who have osteoporosis, arthritis or other chronic conditions, or those who take medications that affect balance and depth perception, which increases the risk for falls.

Fortunately, you can take steps to minimize dangers in the shower or bath.

Prevent falls

  • Install grab rails in and around your bath or shower.
  • Affix nonslip strips or a rubber mat on the surface of your tub.
  • If you’re unsteady on your feet, consider a sturdy shower chair or bench.
  • Use secure floor or bath mats with nonslip backings along areas of the bathroom that may become slippery when wet.
  • Make sure your bathroom is well-lit and clutter-free.

Optimize ergonomics

  • Light switches, shower doors and faucet handles should be easy to reach and operate.
  • Lever-type faucets may be easier for some people to use.
  • Keep shampoo, soap and other toiletries within easy reach while you’re bathing. A shelf or shower caddy may help.

Stay on top of health matters

Talk with your doctor if you’re feeling unstable or dizzy or you’re having trouble seeing clearly. An underlying health concern may need to be addressed. Sometimes, it can be as easy as adjusting a prescription.

Prepare for emergencies

Even with the best preventive measures in place, some accidents are inevitable. Have a plan for contacting help if an accident occurs. This plan may include installing an alarm or intercom alert system in your bathroom. Or you may want to keep a cell phone within reach at all times.

Caregiver concerns

If you’re a caregiver for someone who has Alzheimer’s or other severe challenges, talk with his or her doctor about bathing safety. You may need to be aware of specific concerns.