Is the bathroom really a risky area?
There has been some extensive research in the United States by the CDC over a 6 year period around the injuries sustained in the bathroom. They found that on an annual basis approximately 234,000 people aged 15 and older were treated for injuries arising from bathroom activities and four out of five of these injuries were due to falls.
Bathroom injury rates are higher in women. Studies consistently have shown that women are at higher risk than men for falling and for sustaining fall-related injuries. This difference could be related to gender differences in physical activity, lower-body strength, bone mass, or greater willingness to seek medical treatment.
Approximately 80% of all bathroom injuries are caused by falls, with the highest injury rates in the oldest age groups. For adults aged ≥65 years, falls often cause serious injuries.
What causes falls in the bathroom?
Falling in the bathroom is not just a matter of slipping in the bathtub or shower.
Simple actions like rising from the toilet can cause bathroom injuries. Standing after prolonged sitting can result in a sudden drop in blood pressure that causes light-headedness or dizziness (this can be exacerbated by dehydration or medication).
Knee or lower body muscular weakness can make people unsteady getting down or up from the toilet or in or out of the bath (even if the floor isn’t slippery).
Things to look out for
Signs of dehydration, significant changes in sleep patterns, potential illness (see overnight breathing rate and resting heart rate articles) or a recent reduction in movement. These could all indicate an immediate increased risk of bathroom falls.
Longer term falls risk can be associated with a decline in mobility due to chronic lack of sleep, medication, increased frailty, and worsening eye conditions.
Things that might help
Add non-slip mats and grab bars inside and outside the bath and shower.
Install grab bars next to the toilet for added support getting up and down.
Keep your bathroom well-lit. This will help you to easily spot and avoid any obstacles.
Think about using night lights throughout your home. Make sure that your bedroom, bathroom, hallways, and stairways are well-lit throughout the night. This will help you to make safe and uneventful trips to your bathroom and back again. Medication and some health conditions may result in more overnight bathroom visits and extra sleepiness, so make sure that you can easily navigate between your bed and the bathroom.