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4 Tips to Make Showering Safer

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When a senior needs help with showering or bathing, it’s typically up to family members like you to step in to help out. But you may discover that it’s not necessarily as easy of a process as you might think.

The bathing process can be fraught with danger. Climbing in and out of a bathtub or shower stall presents a major fall risk. Standing, turning and sitting back down during a shower likewise has the potential to end in disaster.

Fortunately, you can take steps to help improve bath time safety. Professional caregivers receive training on how to make showering and bathing as safe as possible, and you might consider adapting these same concepts for your own use.

1. Address the bathing environment

Shower stalls obviously become wet and slippery while in use. Likewise, the curved surfaces of bathtubs make for an unstable place to stand. And a steamy spray can make the bathroom floor slick, too.

Care professionals suggest improving the safety of these environments by installing equipment like grab bars and a large shower mat. In tiled bathrooms, you can consider adding safety treads or a rubber transfer mat to the floor to reduce slipperiness.

2. Address mobility issues

Normal aging can cause weak legs in many adults, and certainly medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease or arthritis can make it difficult for a person to transition from standing to sitting easily. If you are caring for a loved one who has mobility issues, you should be very careful when helping them get into and out of the tub or shower.

Consider using specialized bath items to help make transferring as safe as possible. From a big box store or a specialty online store, you can get rails that fit over the tub wall, shower chairs or even a transfer stool to help reduce fall risk when helping a loved one get into or out of the shower.

3. Organize supplies

Oftentimes, soap and shampoo reside in a basket hanging from the shower head or high up on a shower wall shelf. That might be convenient for a person who can safely stand up in the tub to shower, but it’s out of reach for the seated senior and it poses a potential danger to a family caregiver who must take her attention off the senior relative being bathed in order to reach these supplies.

A better solution might be to gather all of your supplies in a container and place it within easy reach. This way, you can keep one steady hand on your loved one while grasping the soap or shampoo bottle with the other.

4. Adjust your bath time technique

Typically a fully mobile person hops in the shower, washes, and then jumps out to dry off. But in a scenario where the person needs mobility assistance, that sequence can be dangerous because a wet person can easily slip from your hands as you help them out of the shower.

That’s why bathing another person might call for a change of technique. Focus on reducing the number of times (if any) the person must stand or turn while in the wet environment. This means you should think carefully about all the steps involved in the current bathing routine and consider adjusting them as necessary. For instance, you may consider drying your loved one while they remain seated on a stool before exiting the shower.

For family caregivers, bathing or showering a loved one can present a number of safety challenges. But if you focus on these four aspects of safety, you may be able to reduce the risk of a bath time fall.

Of course, if bathing a senior loved one seems too daunting or becomes more than you can safely handle alone, remember you can always hire a professional caregiver through an in-home care company like Home Instead®. These experts understand how to provide safe bathing assistance and help with many other senior care tasks.

Last revised: November 1, 2016

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. April 19, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Posted by Gwendolyn Waldorf

    We added a ceiling light with a heater & fan. It makes the room warmer & when I help my mother out of the shower I put her rollator walker right in the spot with the hot air so she can sit on it while I finish drying her legs & feet. The shower seat/bench is great, she hardly has to stand at all.


  2. December 6, 2016 at 8:40 am | Posted by Mae

    What if a senior citizen does not have money to update her shower. Is there monetary assistance to make the home safer for the ones able to live at home and care for them selves..I need my larger bath remodeled and usable. I use a small shower stall that will not hold the bars needed. Is there a grant or financial support I could apply for to make my home safer..thanks


  3. November 25, 2016 at 11:23 pm | Posted by Adam Harper

    Thanks for the useful points that you have mentioned above. I take care of my 87-year-old grandfather. A few months before he was dealing with some difficulty getting in and out of a traditional bathtub. On the recommendation of my friend, I got in contact with the walk in tubs Tacoma, available at website, they provided me the brand model of the walk-in bathtub, after the installation it allows my grandfather to bathe safely.


  4. November 21, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Posted by Kira Regianto

    Wanted to pass on new resource: Transfer pants. These are pants with strong handles on the sides, front and back, so you can hold on to a person you are helping move in and out of shower (or car, etc.). They come in a street clothes version and a bathing version. See P.S. I am not affiliated with this new company, just passing on a resource.


  5. November 21, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Posted by Nannette cutlip

    Another thought to help with independence in the tub or shower. ..Because of the heat and moisture in a tub bending can cause light headed and slipping. And my client liked his independence but I found I was often having to reach blind under the shower curtain to find the dropped soup. So I cut off one leg of a pair of panty hose.I placed a bar of soap in it and using a curtain ring I attached the other end to the shower head. The panty hose asked as a natural exfoliate but was thin enough to allow soap to pass. And by hooking the other end to the showed head dropped soap was no longer a problem. The client could just reach out and crash the panty hose when dropping the soap. He no longer had to juggle a wash cloth and soap while maintaining balance.


  6. November 18, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Posted by mary pierce

    For the lady with a 70 year old husband and a 90 year old mother it brought back memories to say the least. One had one set of problems and the other a whole new set. I was not sleeping at night as could not solve a low protein diet/low Na plus all the other things that I was responsible to do. Finally enlightenment. Both were low sodium. My Mom could have more meat, my husband less, and both could have veggies galore. I set up sort of a plan for each day of the week for bathing, a day out for a drive, exercise, and meals without leftovers. Then I just followed the plan leaving time for myself to do for me as well. It worked for us. Hope it works for you or that you develop a plan for yourself. Mary Pierce


  7. November 15, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Posted by Allison McMillan-Lee

    Water walkers beach and shower shoes [mesh with flat rubber soles] in 4 colors for $10.95 #28039 are available from:


  8. November 11, 2016 at 7:08 pm | Posted by Steve Jenkins

    My wife's 96-year old mother has one of those, but, as I understand it, you can't fill the tub until you are in it and must empty it while you are in it. She can't stand the wait or the amount of water used. Any suggestions?


  9. November 10, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Posted by Eva Harzewski

    What do you do if they are afraid to shower or get in the tub.


  10. November 10, 2016 at 10:50 am | Posted by Lea VanderBoom

    I am a care giver and the senior I take care of had a MediSpa walk in tub installed and has been able to take care of herself ever since. Yes it is expensive but it is so worth the price, she has privacy now which she likes and has no trouble getting in or out of the tub.


  11. November 10, 2016 at 10:30 am | Posted by Patricia besser

    I have to take CARE of my 70 year old husband and my 90 year old mother, can you give me any tips.


  12. November 10, 2016 at 10:29 am | Posted by Maureen

    All these tips are great. One rule I never break when showering is to never wash my hair in the shower. I only wash my hair in the kitchen sink. My thinking is that a lot of my friends have fallen in the shower because they got dizzy while washing their hair. Twisting your head to soap and rinse your hair can make you experience vertigo especially if you take more than one medication. My friends have followed this advice and agree that it works much better.


  13. November 10, 2016 at 10:21 am | Posted by Susan Rossi

    I put several towels in the dryer and pull them out right before my dad gets out of the shower so they are warm. This makes it tolerable for him to bathe.


  14. November 8, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Posted by gwen

    if your room is tiled sit the person in a wheel chair or commode, wheel out to dry by sitting them on a towel on the bed.


  15. November 8, 2016 at 10:52 am | Posted by Peggy Enquist

    The one trick that has worked best for me: using those rubber mesh beach shoes! Water still flows through, but NO SLIPPING!


    • November 10, 2016 at 10:58 am | Posted by Donna Flax

      What a wonderful tip about using rubber mesh beach shoes for our elder or handicapped ones. The beach shoes should work well, especially if one or two non-slip bath mats are also used. Haven't tried this yet. Don't know where can get beach shoes in Illinois at this time of year. Meanwhile, using a good bath mat or two should be a given in any case for standing in shower or tub.


    • November 11, 2016 at 11:39 am | Posted by Carlene

      Thanks for the tip.


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