Bathroom Safety and Arthritis
Every year thousands of falls and accidents occur in bathrooms. Having arthritis, fatigue, stiff joints or weak muscles makes your risk even higher. Exercises can improve your strength, flexibility and range of motion, but there are also easy fixes you can make to improve bathroom safety when you're living with arthritis.
Taking a Bath
- Use a shower instead of bathtub as much as possible. A shower is easier to enter and the flat surface is less likely to cause falls.
- When taking a bath to relieve your arthritis symptoms, don't use bath oils; they make the surface of your bathtub much more slippery.
- Avoid using bar soaps if you have arthritis in your hands and fingers. Instead, use liquid soaps in bottles with pumps or in dispensers. Use your palm or the base of your hand to pump out the soap instead of your fingers.
- Place non-slip mats on the bathroom floor, and non-slip bath mats in the tub or shower.
- In the bathtub or shower, use a corner or shower caddy to keep soaps, shampoos, conditioners and other supplies easily accessible. This reduces your risk of slipping or falling.
- Assistive devices are essential to keeping you safe in the bathroom. For instance, a bath chair or seat to sit on helps you avoid slipping or falling if you feel tired or weak when bathing.
- Another assistive device, a transfer bench or sliding transfer bench, makes getting in and out of the shower easier.
Lighting and Fixtures
- Installing proper lighting in your bathroom immediately improves bathroom safety. You'll avoid slips, falls, or bumps that can aggravate your arthritis. Plug in a nightlight that comes on automatically when it's dark so you don't walk into a dark room.
- Keep a flashlight in your cabinet or on your caddy in case there's a power outage.
- Install a cordless phone on the wall in your bathroom about 3 1/2 feet up from the floor and arm's reach from the tub or shower. If you fall you can call someone to assist you. A bell is also handy to alert family members or a caregiver in the home if you have an accident.
- If you're purchasing a new tub, opt for a walk-in model instead of a standard one. Walk-in tubs lower your risk of tripping and falling when entering and exiting.
- Grab rails (or suction grab bars) are assistive devices that give you support when getting in and out of the shower or bath tub. They also provide extra safety if you're about to fall.
- Install lever taps instead of standard twist taps to take the stress off arthritis in your hands or fingers.
- Remove bath mats from around the sink and doorway to avoid tripping, especially if you use a walker or cane.
- Use a toilet caddy, shelving unit or wall cabinet to store toiletries and supplies. You'll avoid bending over or stooping down.
- At your sink, keep toiletries and supplies in front of you and in arm's reach to reduce your movement in the bathroom and risk of falling.
- A standard toilet can make it difficult to sit or get up if you have arthritis in your knees or hips. Use a raised toilet seat, or, a raised toilet seat with arms.
- If you're in the market for a new toilet, purchase an elevated or higher toilet such as the Toilevator.
- Use a brush with an extended handle to clean your tub or shower and avoid bending and stretching, which increases likelihood that you'll slip, fall, or hurt your joints.
- Clean immediately after your shower or bathe; the steam makes it easier to remove soap and grime and takes the stress of your joints.
If you haven't done so yet, take an inventory of your bathroom and implement as many of these bathroom safety tips as possible.
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