In life at times it seems like there’s danger around every corner! Sometimes it can feel that way but with a little thoughtful planning and careful preparation there is hope. It is no surprise that most home accidents occur either in the kitchen or the bathroom. It is the bathroom and more specifically the shower that we turn our attention to today. Many falls occur around the shower of course because things are wet and slippery and there are hard surfaces everywhere! The consequences of a fall can frankly result in anything from a bruised knee to a broken bone to even death. SO BE CAREFUL! A little thoughtful planning and careful preparation can go a long way to ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones.
What happens if you slip in the shower?
Bad falls can easily happen when people slip or lose their balance in the shower. Unless there is a handy grab rail, stander security pole or shower chair to grab on to, there is only one way to go and that is down! If you should ever fall please try to relax as you fall. That is easier said than done I know but it is important to try! Protect your head with your hand or forearm if possible, and don’t panic! So, there you are, lying on the floor with water pelting down. What should you do to recover from this situation?
What should you do after the fall?
As you start to collect yourself it is normal for it to take a few moments before you realize what happened. If you fall in the shower, lie still for a moment and breathe deeply to catch your breath. According to the National Institute of Aging, this helps you to get over the shock after a fall. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MOVE IF YOU ARE INJURED! Then check yourself for cuts and broken bones. If you are bleeding apply pressure to the wound with your bare hand or use a towel. Stay calm and call out for help if someone is close by, or dial 911 emergency if a phone is at hand. Did you know that there are waterproof emergency communication devices that can even be worn while showering? This type of safety device can be a big help if this ever happens to you especially if you are alone. If you are not seriously injured, crawl out to a safe place and review your injuries in more detail.
As you check yourself for injuries, please remember the warning signs that you may have broken bones:
- A swelling or bruising on your arm or leg
- The limb looks deformed or out of shape
- Your arm or leg hurts when you move it
- The limb is ‘floppy’ and you can’t use it
Here is a summary of what we have covered so far:
- listed safety products that can help prevent or assist you after a fall
- stressed the importance of not panicking and to breathe deeply
- we told you to apply pressure to a wound if you are bleeding
- gave you pointers to determine if you have possibly broken bones
- told you DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MOVE IF YOU ARE INJURED!
- Shown you ways to quickly summon help
Hopefully you have assessed the situation, called for help and are starting to collect yourself again. You can’t lie on the shower floor forever, so now only if you are not injured too badly, if no bones are broken and you do not feel dizzy, can you start to think about getting up.
There are two very important questions that now remain: Should I go to the ER after a fall or should I see a doctor after a fall? The information below will help you decide if you need immediate medical attention or advice after experiencing a fall.
Elderly Fall Prevention
This video by CAMC Health System talks of the dramatic increase of elderly injuries and even deaths from falls. Some of the causes of such falls around home are listed out. We hope that you will find the tips in this video helpful in preventing falls and fall-related injuries.
Should I go to the ER after a fall?
Let’s face it! Our bodies are just not the same as they used to be. Injuries should always be taken seriously at any age but they are even more concerning when they happen to the very young and also to older adults. Older adults have thinner skin and especially if they are on blood thinning medication, external as well as internal bleeding is a concern. Any injury can develop into something more serious especially for an older person, so if you error, it is always best to error on the side of safety. If you are in bad pain, discomfort or just don’t feel right, your injuries may require you to go immediately to the nearest emergency room and get your injuries professionally checked out.
Here’s checklist of when you may need to visit the Emergency Room:
- If your foot or ankle hurts badly when you take a few steps, you may have broken a bone
- Or if any of the warning signs that you have broken a bone from the list above for that matter
- If you have a large wound that needs proper cleaning or cut that may require stitches
- If you have dizziness, ringing in ears, blurred vision, sudden fatigue or nausea you may have a concussion
These things are unlikely to go away on their own. You need to visit the emergency room as soon as possible after your fall in the shower. If this just happened, we recommend you take immediate steps to do this now. They will know what to do and will provide the necessary care. As was written above and now stated again: “Any injury can develop into something more serious especially for an older person, so if you error, it is always best to error on the side of safety.” So please go to the emergency room now.
If you feel that a trip right now to the emergency room is unnecessary, you should ask…
Should I see a doctor after a fall?
So far so good; at least you are back on your feet and can maybe move around again. However, you still need to do a more detailed self-assessment to decide if you should see a doctor.
Call your doctor if any of these apply:
- Maybe you can hobble around the house but you may need medication to control pain or to prevent an infection from a cut or scrape
- You pulled or strained a muscle to the extent it limits the mobility of a joint. If this is not taken care of it can lead to further pain and even worse…another fall!
- Call your doctor if you notice any redness, bruising or swelling
- Your elbow or knee locks up in which case you may have torn a ligament that’s interfering with the joint
- It’s been a while since you fell in the shower but you are not back to normal. The aches and pains from the fall persist.
You need to see a doctor if any of these apply. Even if you think that your injuries did not make this list, simply put, you should call your doctor for his/her advice always after experiencing a fall!
We hope that this article gave you some good pointers to help you if you should experience a fall.
Please stay safe and take good care of yourself!
Senior Shower Safety – Infographic
“Smart people learn from everything and everyone,
Average people from their experiences,
Stupid people already have all the answers.”