Friday, February 6, 2015

Survey of Bathroom Fall Prevention Equipment


For older adults, the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house. Wet floors, sharp corners, risks of electrocution, and other hazards put them at risk. Because of the large and varying types of hazards, there are many types of bathroom safety equipment available on the market today.

As a CSA, it’s necessary to be aware of the basic tools on the market to provide accurate advice for your clients. The infographic (see sidebar) might be helpful.

Since the bathroom is a hotspot for falls and injuries, here’s some more information on the equipment described in the article:

Grab Bars

Balance issues are a common worry among older adults. Standing on one foot to get into the bathtub can become a dangerous situation. Entry in and out of the washing area is a major cause for falls. Installing grab bars in and around toilets and bathtubs is a must for people who have balance problems. They provide a handhold for those who need assistance, or an emergency place to grab in the event of a fall.

The easiest way to determine the installation height is to observe the patient in their routine and mark where they place their hands. Smaller diameter grab bars are easier to grip, as are rough ones.

Ideally, bars should be installed into studs if at all possible, or with adequate drywall anchors. They should not be installed into acrylic bathtub and shower inserts due to the flexibility of the walls.

Transfer Benches

Transfer benches allow clients to safely transfer from the outside to the inside of the tub. Users are able to sit down and swing their feet around into the tub. Grab bars are a common addition to these.

In considering which transfer bench to recommend, the higher the weight allowance the better. A transfer bench that breaks under a patient’s weight can cause more issues than just a fall.

A fixed bench height makes a bench much sturdier, but an adjustable chair makes for a cheaper investment in case a client is expected to move to another facility at some point.

Medical Alert Devices

While great care is taken to minimize and prevent falls, there is still a chance that they will happen. Their grip might slip on the grab bar, or they might have a momentary lapse in balance. In these cases, a medical alert device is valuable. If the client happens to fall, they can press the button on their medical alert jewelry and summon help. Think of the medical alert system much like the hospital nurse call button.

Every client should have at least two pendants available to them. One should be worn around the house. The second should be kept in the bathroom at all times. Depending on bathroom habits, they may forget to take one into the bathroom. An extra communicator is also a good idea unless the model chosen can pick up speech anywhere in the house.

Toilet Seat Risers and Bidets

Grab bars near toilets can be difficult to install due to stud placement. In such a situation, a toilet seat riser may be necessary. They can also be necessary in extreme age or debilitation when a grab bar isn’t enough assistance anymore.

A toilet seat riser elevates the toilet seat to aid in getting off the toilet. The first thing to look at is the client’s weight. If the patient is over 250 pounds then a special bariatric seat will be necessary. After that, the next thing to examine is the relationship between the height of the toilet and the height of the user. Risers can range from two inches to six inches. The right height must be chosen for the user’s disability. Finally, the locking mechanism must be strong enough. If a user can’t bend down to pick up the riser if it falls off, consider offering one that locks to the lid.

A bidet can be extremely useful in combination with a toilet riser to maintain cleanliness.

Lighting

Lighting is another major piece of the safety puzzle. Inadequate light can lead to a fall. A fix can be as simple as installing a nightlight. It depends on the vision of the client and the number of obstacles between the bedroom and the bathroom.

For some clients, track lighting or a motion-sensor light may be necessary so that light is on at all times. These lights can be as elaborate or as subdued as the client needs. They are also very energy-conscious. Motion sensors can operate on as little as a watt’s worth of power. They are also a good option for clients who are light sensitive when they sleep.

Non-slip Mats
A non-slip mat that can absorb water is the best thing to have in place. Look for ones that are latex-coated on the bottom and that grip securely with your floor surface. A thin carpeted bathroom mat will not hold a rubber mat securely as a linoleum or tile floor.

Every client is different, and the available products are changing all the time. It’s up to the healthcare professionals, caregivers, and others to make sure that they are up to date on the safest and best equipment for their clients. 


Blog posting courtesy of Medical Care Alert

Author BIO

Charlie Kimball, works for MedicalCareAlert.com, a Michigan-based company providing home care monitoring for family members who choose to stay at home despite medical challenges. Charlie is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit. She blogs for her company. 

Provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors