I am often asked about safety tips for the slipperiest place in the house, the shower! The shower area and surrounding bathroom is a place where extra attention is needed and I hope this article will help you navigate it a little better.
The first thing to address is the reality of many people’s situations. While a person may be fully functional with everyday activities, walking, standing/sitting, driving, etc., they may have real difficulties in the shower. And we need to address this honestly.
So if you’re having trouble, so what? This is not a time for pride. This is a time for honesty and safety. Here’s the Wizard’s take: Be extra cautious in the shower, and then go climb your mountains! Use every safety precaution you can while showering; not to do so is not worth the risk. You wouldn’t walk onto ice without being extra cautious, and wet shower tiles can be like ice. Let’s explore some great safety tips:
Balance: Keep Your Legs and Knees Slightly Bent!
Keep your legs/knees slightly bent while getting in and out, and also while in the shower. This means the entire time! Error on the side of being cautious. Remember the Wizards rule; Up and Down keeps Me Off the Ground? This means to use those legs, sinking down just a bit (an inch or two), and to feel the bottoms of your feet to help your balance help you.
Take as much of balance in your leg muscles as much as possible. Keep your head up as well, and with your weight in your legs, you stand the best chance at avoiding a fall.
Yes, yes, yes. Shower chairs are great. Use them. Set them at a height that makes it easy to get in and out, and use the Wizards rule, “Nose Over the Toes” when standing.
Make sure there are rubber bottoms on the legs, and that they are new. Older chairs have stiff rubber bottoms and these will slip around with a little soap scum on them.
Keep the tiles clean, especially under the leg bottoms where mold can build up and cause the chair to slide around.
Placing a rubber mat on the bottom of the shower area, large or small, and then placing your chair on top of that is a great way to keep the chair secure. I have seen some people have success with self stick tapes both in and out of the shower area, yet each application is different.
Install Grab Bars
I will not put up with an argument here; grab bars are the best safety net you can have. In fact, many newer homes being sold with them already installed.
Grab bars are easy to install, are available at most hardware stores in a variety of colors other than the ubiquitous handicap chrome, and can be put up in most showers. I don’t recommend the stick on kind, but prefer the drill into the tile kind. Please don’t argue that you don’t want four little holes in your tiles and that you’re fine hanging onto the door. You need not be found naked on the ground by the local fire department. And no, your house will NOT lose value because of a four little holes in your tiles…
Where to put the grab bars? Here’s the ideal situation: Install two vertical bars near the entrance point to the shower area, to help steady yourself as you step in and out. Install the third bar diagonally or horizontally near the area when you actually shower, so you can hold on while rinsing and closing your eyes.
And finally, use them! Just a simple touch of a bar does more than provide security, it stimulates the nerves in your hands to tell your brain where you are- it helps your balance. Use them while you turn, while you pick something up, when you move around, etc.
Shower Safety is Not for Wimps!
I am quite serious about being extra safe in the shower and then going out and climbing your mountain. Showering is like driving; be cautious and live longer. In the exercise world, long gone are the days of no pain no gain. These days, exercise professionals of all ages, work hard on safety while exercising, and then play hard. None of us takes safety for granted. Neither should you. Shower and use the bathroom area as safely as you can- everyday!
Take your risks while out living the life the good Lord meant for you, and not in the shower and bathroom area. Next month, I will give you some additional ideas for the bathroom area. Have a safe shower! God bless.
~Because you’re stronger than you think, and you can do more than you know!~
John Paul Ouvrier, known as The Wizard of Youth, is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults. The contents of this article do not constitute medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before beginning this or any exercise program or following advice. Contact him at John@wizardofyouth.com, and bring him in to entertain your audiences! http://wizardofyouth.com. & http://fitness4charity.org.
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