While most able-bodied, healthy people don't think twice about taking a bath, for people with disabilities. or for the elderly, bathing can be a very hazardous activity. The National Safety Council says that one person in the United States dies everyday from using a bathtub or shower.
In fact, during a period of three years there were more bathing related deaths than there were handgun accidents. The psychological trauma for families is even greater for bathing accidents since they occur in purportedly protective surroundings.
Most disabled and elderly people are not completely dependent on someone else for taking a bath. Most of them still want the independence of taking a bath by themselves. They still want as much privacy as they can get so they often bath without assistance.
But, one of the problems with bathing without supervision is the fatigue and muscle weakness cause by heat. Bathing in hot water relaxes the muscles. It can also cause many of the same symptoms as heat exhaustion if the water is too hot. Elderly and disabled people who were capable of getting in a bathtub may not be able to get out on their own.
One elderly woman who had hip problems and arthritic knees was able to get in the tub by herself, but unable to get out until she finally rolled over the edge thirty minutes later to grab the sink and drag herself out.
For this reason elderly and disabled people should have some sort of an emergency alert device that can be effortlessly reached. Then if assistance is needed getting out of the tub they can call someone they trust to help them.
In cases where a caretaker is not in the immediate area, a cordless phone or an emergency alert device may be required. The emergency alert devices place an outgoing phone call when a button is pressed. Some services allow you to have the call go to someone you know, while others require a monthly subscription fee and they go to an emergency assistance center.
One problem with using cordless phones or medical alert devices is that most of these devices aren't waterproof and they won't survive a drop in the tub. So if you use these devices, ensure they are safely away from the tub but still in reach.
If someone in the building or surrounding buildings is available to help, then walkie-talkie-type radios or wireless intercoms can be used. Most of these devices are not waterproof either so if they get wet, that may defeat their purpose.
One of the ways people who live in retirement communities can use products like these is to give a portable unit to a trusted neighbor. If they have problems getting out of the tub, the neighbor can call for help.
No matter what device is chosen it must be easily reachable and it should be placed where it cannot fall in the tub, or it should be waterproof. It also must be battery powered since with anything else there is a risk of electrocution.
Once a device is installed, everyone involved will feel a greater sense of security by just knowing that in the event of a crisis a means of contacting help is available. Or perhaps all the disabled or elderly person needs is help every time he or she gets out of the tub. In either case, there are devices available that can meet these needs.
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