Do you know why many seniors choose to use a shower rather than a bathtub? It’s quite simple really, most are frightened of slipping and falling when they get in or out. So why use a bathtub?
Showers are great if you want to keep clean and they don’t use a lot of water. But, I’ll bet you miss a long lazy soak in a bathtub, with lots of perfumed and foaming bath bombs. It’s even better if you can soak with a good book and a glass of wine! If you’re a senior, you don’t have to miss out on such a wonderful experience.
Hopefully, we’ll explain how you should climb out of a bathtub, how to keep your balance, and what bath aids you can use to improve the experience.
What is the correct way to get out of a bathtub?
If you have the mobility, climbing out of the tub isn’t that difficult if you take care, move slowly and hold onto things.
Okay, you’re sitting on your bottom in the bathtub. What do you do next?
- Catch hold of the side of the tub, with your opposite arm (left-hand side of the tub, use right arm. Right-hand side of the tub, use left arm).
- Pull yourself onto your side, and then onto your hands and knees. Do this slowly and hold onto something at all times.
- Hold onto the side of the tub, push your upper body so you’re resting on knees only.
- Hold onto the side of the tub nearest where you intend climbing out.
- Lift your knees until you are standing on your feet.
- While still holding on tight, lift one leg over the side of the tub. Transfer your weight to the leg that’s outside the tub.
- Carry on holding the tub. Lift the other leg out of the tub and place that on the floor too.
- You can now let go of the tub.
That should have been easy for those of us who have mobility, good balance and full use of our hips and knees.
But what happens if you don’t have enough mobility?
Practice balance exercises
It’s a good idea to improve our sense of balance, so try these simple exercises regularly (NOT in the bathtub!). If you do an online search there are many more you can try. Alternatively, speak to your doctor.
- Stand with your feet together.
- Slowly, move one foot to the side.
- Move the other one to join it.
- Step from one side of the room to the other.
Walking sideways across
- Stand with your feet together.
- Cross your right foot over your left and place it on the floor.
- Move your left foot so it’s next to the right foot and they are together.
- Walk across the room for 5 steps.
- Repeat using the other foot.
Heel to toe walk
- Place your right heel directly in front of your left toes.
- Do the same using the other foot. You may need to place your fingers against the wall or a chair for stability.
- Do at least 5 steps, and if you can manage it, move away from the wall.
RELATED: How to improve balance in seniors
Use Bathroom aids:
For those of us who aren’t very good on our feet, there are many aids we can use to help us enjoy a soak in the bathtub. You can even use some of them if you are mobile, as bathtubs can be dangerous places for anyone.
Use non-slip bath mats
A non-slip bath mat is a useful item to have, even if you are able-bodied. The floor of a bathtub or shower stall can both become very slippery when wet and soapy. So why not consider using one for all the family.
A typical bath mat is made from rubber, with suction cups covering the underside. The cups hold the mat in place so it won’t slide. Make sure to check the measurements of your tub or shower before you buy one as sizes vary.
Some incorporate a nylon brush foot cleaner, so you don’t have to bend down to wash your feet. Keep your eyes open for little gimmicks like this, that will make your wash time easier. Find more about non slip bath mats.
Use grab bars
Grab bars are useful to install, even if you have some mobility. They are usually made from metal or fiberglass and you install them on the wall above the bathtub.
You use them for additional support when attempting to bend, standing up or sitting down, or climbing in and out of the tub. They are so useful you will probably find lots of places around the house where you can use them. For example, next to the toilet, in the shower, by the front doorstep, or anywhere you need additional support. Find different types of grab bars.
Make sure they are installed using fixings suitable for the type of wall you have. It’s better if you install them onto solid brick walls as plasterboard drywall won’t always hold your weight. If you’re in any doubt, consult an appropriately skilled professional.
Use a shower chair
These are designed to fit in the bathtub or shower to help those of us who have problems standing. Not all are suitable for the bathtub, but you can buy two types that are. The free-standing stool and the wall fixed chair.
There are some with a built-in backrest and armrests as well as wall-mounted seats that fold up out of the way if you prefer. Whichever one you choose will depend on your circumstances and you should get an assessment from a professional medical practitioner before buying one.
RELATED: Best shower chairs for seniors
You will probably find that if you need a chair for support in a tub, you will be better using a shower anyway. So bear this in mind when you make your choice and take professional advice.
Install a walk-in bathtub
If you have the budget to buy a walk-in bathtub, then you probably won’t regret it. However, there are some things you should be aware of.
The lower end tubs with just a basic design will cost about $4,000 whereas a high-end tub with whirlpool and massage jets costs up to $12,000.
To use them you have to open the door and sit on the molded seat before sealing yourself inside. Only then can you start to fill the tub. Similarly, when you have finished bathing, you won’t be able to open the door until all the water has drained away. Depending on whether you feel the cold, sitting in the tub with no hot water may or may not be acceptable.
You might also find that the waterproof seal might fail over time, resulting in a rather large puddle on the bathroom floor. Apart from these problems, a walk-in bathtub will allow you to soak if that’s what you prefer.
Check more ideas on how to to get out of a bathtub safely.