God bless the free market! Now more than ever, products that make bathing safe and enjoyable for seniors and disabled persons are readily available.
As needs arise in North America new or improved products also appear and cater to those very needs and wants! The most trivial advances make headlines, a la Snuggie’s or flexible hoses, but the important ones are there, too. For example, Life Alert seemed a very natural, sensible, important service for anyone getting up in years or anyone who cares about anyone getting long in the tooth.
As most of us become aware, falling down becomes one of the most serious perils a senior person can experience. Broken bones loom with potentially every stair or bump, depending on the person’s age and mobility. The problem for seniors is, unlike the amazing ability of young bodies to quickly heal and repair themselves, any injury can more easily lead to other complications with seniors.
So we become deathly afraid and protective of our elder loved ones encountering any threat, and often dote on them or try to regulate their activity, which efforts may naturally be returned with resentment. The number of preventable injuries to people 65 years and older is increasing, however, so our fears are warranted.
- Falling is the leading cause of unintentional injury to people over 65.
In fact, in 2003 the National Safety Council (NSC) in the US embarked upon a project to reduce the number of these injuries.
- What’s more, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported in 2006 that unintentional falls were the number one reason people over 45 went to emergency rooms!
They explained that over 600,000 adults between 55 and 64 visited emergency rooms for falling while the number of visits for people over 65 was over 1.8 million – the number tripled! (1) That’s over 30,000 such injuries each week, and over 250 deaths among them, not to mention permanently debilitating injuries.
Because of intrusive, albeit necessary, regulation of a senior or disabled person’s bathing, they may become resistive to the very act of it. They won’t like it anymore and this can introduce a list of new problems. It is fairly common for the elderly to resist bathing.
The big picture then, of prevention includes attention to
- quality of vision,
- proper medication, and
- home safety.
Of these, if falling down is a problem, falling down in the bathroom is a larger part of the problem with home safety. According to ComfortKeepers.com,
“The first place to evaluate is the bathroom.”
The obstacles of high steps, slippery floors, hard surfaces, and confined spaces have made the bathroom an intimidating, threatening space, until now.
Thanks to good old ingenuity, the solution does not have to involve more regulation and less freedom for the person.
In fact low-threshold showers and walk-in bathtubs provide not only more safety but more enjoyment, and can nicely add to the quality of life with a love of bathing.
Not only is ingress and egress, getting in and out easier, but the addition of soothing massage jets and rain-styled shower heads is something to be looked forward to. In fact these tubs and showers add
- Accessibility and
Bathroom design has become an important issue for both safety and enjoyment among
- Senior living facilities,
- Private Residences, and
- Spas and health clubs.
Walk-in tubs and showers remove common obstacles and other safety hazards so seniors and disabled persons can enjoy bathing in relative safety again. Grab bars, non-skid mats, rounded edges, and removal of common obstacles make a big difference. So does making shampoos and soaps easy to reach.
Although a retro-fit is an option, new installation is recommended. Either way, also make sure a preset thermostatic valve is present to avoid scalding. This is a relatively common feature with most new bath and shower valves.
Included shower benches make bathing a safer, more relaxing, and in fact a more thorough bathing experience as well. The most prominent safety feature is being able to walk right in to your shower or tub with nothing more than a low threshold to step easily over, closing a door behind you.
Benefits of Safety Tubs and Showers
In addition to the safety factors discussed, and in addition to making bathing a more enjoyable activity, a walk-in shower and/or tub may be just the treat anyone would want in their bathroom.
- Whirlpool jets,
- Portable, multiple-setting shower heads,
- Softer materials and shaping,
These all make bathing more fun – in fact whirlpool jets applied at a comfortable pressure assist with
- Stress relief
- Sore muscle and joint relief and
- Flexibility. (2)
Things you don’t have to be over 65 or disabled to enjoy! But if you or someone you love is over 65 or disabled the benefits are all the more important to your safety and quality of life.
You can have an all-new product installed or purchase a conversion kit for many existing tubs and showers.
The investment to have a walk-in shower or bath seems to range between $2,000 and $5,000 in general. The cost can be less of course for a retro-fit kit or conversion, if you nail down a special, or if you “know someone in the business!” They can always run higher of course, depending on installation costs in your area and the amenities you buy.
But the real question with an item like this is not to measure the cost against a standard porcelain tub, but rather against the quality of life and peace of mind it provides. Tap water is nice and cheap until you discover you’re ill from it. Fast food is famously cheap and gaining fame as a killer, too!
If you bought such a bath for mom or dad at $2,000 and they enjoyed it for ten years, your cost is just $200 per year or under $17 per month, all for priceless peace of mind and quality of life. But then again – you might even recoup some of that cost if and when the house is sold!
So weigh the peace of mind your investment buys, and the quality of life it provides. When the time comes, such a purchase will be high on my own list for mom and dad, under the “quality of life,” “peace of mind,” and “thanks for all you did” columns.