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Plumbing and Bathroom Safety For Seniors

Preventing accidents and making lives of the elderly and disabled easier with modification of problem areas in the home is not only a concern to the eldery and disabled but an important consideration to care-providers whether they be contracted or a family member.

People 65+ represented 12.4% of the population in the year 2000 but are expected to grow to be 19% of the population by 2030 according to the
Department of Health & Human Services Administration on Aging.

An AARP survey estimated that 44.4 million Americans are taking care of another adult, mainly an elderly parent or other relative.

In this blog and video, Seattle Plumbing Contractor, Fox Plumbing and Heating's President David Brown with the help of Vickie Rackner MD founder of The Care Givers Club , are exploring ways of dealing with a caregivers most difficult challenges, " the bathroom ".

Dr. Rackner is a board-certified surgeon and nationally noted expert in the doctor-patient relationship. She has treated tens of thousands of patients, taught medical students to think like doctors and served as an expert witness who reviewed scores of malpractice cases. She served as a faculty member at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "Dr. Vicki", as she has come to be known, left the operating room to help family caregivers and patients and health care professionals partner more effectively with each other. She's a regular source on CNN.com, has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal,USA Today, The Washington Post, Reader's Digest, Bottom Line Health, Woman's Day, Real Simple and many others. She has been interviewed on over 100 radio shows, including NPR,Martha Stewart Living and Health Talk.

One Solution to a care giving problem is a tankless hot water heater.

David Brown says "Many people today. Have problems with running out of hot water especially with elderly people that are taking extended showers with care workers this can lead to a dangerous solution of turning up the water heater to extend the length of time there is hot water, but this increases the chances of scalding and burns. David Brown says "The industry today was gonna towards these tankless water heaters and then they seem to be working fabulously. Tankless water heaters will give you endless hot water this is a little bit larger project and we send out an estimator to look at that. But for elderly people that have got bathing problems and care givers that are having these sorts of problems where they are running out of hot water. We have a really good fix for that today with these tankless water heaters and it saves a lot of space we don't have to put in a large tanks like we used to you, these are fairly small units that hang on wall but we can give endless hot water without any difficulties, so we can eliminate that problem we have had over the years".

This is one of the most problematic areas of home health care as well as one of the most dangerous and uncomfortable situations for those being cared for, we will of course be exploring may others.

Safety Upgrades Checklist

  • Walk-in showers: safer and easier access, more comfortable to use important when wheelchair access is required
  • Shower seats: installed in all shower enclosures for the disabled and elderly.
  • Grab bars: shower enclosure, bathroom wall, bathtub wall, toilet wall, or with walk in tub a bar near the exit.
  • Anti-slip flooring for the tub, shower, and bathroom floor.
  • Slip proof coating on bathroom floors. This is a recommended finishing coat, applied to floors to prevent slips or bad falls.
  • Easy reach electrical switches for wheel chair access and easily visible for the elderly.
  • Floating sinks for wheelchairs access
  • Elevated toilet seats or safety frames

Basic Safety Checklist

  • Hot water temperature set 120 degrees
  • Non slip floors covering or non slip carpet in front of tub or shower.
  • Towels and wash rags within easy reach
  • Non slip surface in shower or tub
  • Soap and shampoo within easy reach
  • Grab bar for sitting on or getting up from the toilet
  • A night light that illuminates the path to bathroom

A night light in the bathroom

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