Bathing Safety Spotlight: Bathing and Toileting Tips for Caregivers
Bathroom Safety Spotlight: Bathing and Toileting Tips for Caregivers
Many of our clients have limited mobility, and with limited mobility comes a potential risk for falls and other injuries. These risks are especially dangerous in the bathroom. The Government of Canada estimates that 1 in 3 seniors aged 65 and older fall each year. Below are seven tips to help clients stay safe while bathing and toileting.
- Remove obstacles.
Make sure that the path to the bathroom is clear. Encourage removal of rugs and other items which can make navigating difficult. Also, try to keep needed items within arm’s reach. When helping a client take a bath or shower, encourage them to have all needed items close by to limit unnecessary walking while wet.
- Keep visibility in mind.
Make sure that lights are turned on and bulbs that burn out are changed (or reported to the client’s family or main office) right away. Keeping areas well lit can help decrease falls. Nightlights are also encouraged for nighttime use.
- Be cautious of water temperature.
Elderly individuals can have thinner, more sensitive skin. This can put them at an increased risk for burns from hot water temperatures. Always check the water temperature before assisting the client into the bath or shower area.
- Reminders and daily schedules can be important.
Some clients may need reminders to use the bathroom or use grab bars in the bathroom. Other clients may need additional reminders to pull pants down and back up again after toileting. Many clients have daily schedules they follow which may include regular bathroom breaks. This can limit the number of rushed emergency trips that may come up.
- Take your time, never rush.
Rushing will increase injury risk. Always take your time and encourage the client to stay calm and do the same. Again, regularly scheduled bathroom breaks may help to decrease hurried trips.
- Encourage other options when safety is in question.
The client and their family may decide to use other tools when mobility is limited. Using briefs can cut down on the number of trips to the bathroom for clients. Bedside commodes or urinals can also limit trips to the bathroom and therefore help keep the client safe. If a client uses these options and tools, encourage said use.
- Stay hydrated and eat healthy.
Clients who have difficulty with mobility may limit their fluid and food intake to decrease the number of trips they take to the bathroom. This can be very dangerous as it can lead to dehydration and general weakness, both of which can add to fall risk. Always encourage your client to eat and drink appropriately to keep a healthy diet.