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Last winter after a debilitating bout with pneumonia, my mom needed a walker.  My dad ran down to his local church and picked up a used rickety clanky walker.  In horror at this ancient contraption protecting my mom, I insisted they obtain a new stable walker.  As a nurse I knew the statistics: one in three adults over the age of 65 will fall each year and many of these falls cause major disabilities.  Choosing a suitable walker is only one part of ensuring safety.  For example, the bathroom poses a significant danger to the elderly population.  However, a variety of equipment is available to protect a loved one from a fall, but be careful using old or faulty equipment.

January, as national bath safety month, provides an opportunity to assess all bathrooms utilized by your loved one.  Slippery tiles and splashing water pose a risk for those who are not stable on their feet. So make sure bath mats have a nonskid padding so it will not slip out from under an individual.  Also, make sure the bath mats are not too thick, causing tripping.  Additionally, consider steady grab bars.  Many elderly want to grab towel racks which are not steady, so instead have sturdy grab bars installed.  Family Medical Supply, a locally owned medical supply company, sells grab bars and will install them for a charge.  The toilet needs to be elevated because that makes it easier for the elderly to get up and down.  Finally, invest in a sturdy shower chair that fits the bathtub or shower correctly.  All through the month of January this blog will go in to more details about each piece of equipment.

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