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Sunday, 11 November 2012

Making bathrooms safe

With a little care you can reduce risks, especially for elders

Eighty-year-old Devaki Menon was quite agile for her age until she fell in the bathroom one
Though she was lucky to escape with a fractured ankle, Ms. Menon was plagued by the 3F
Syndrome (Fear of Further Falling) until her son came from the U.S. and brought along with 
him some accessories which put the confidence back in her stride.

That was about six years ago. Today, what Ms. Menon's son brought from the U.S. is available
here in the market.

Most common among them are the handrails and the shower grabs fixed along the walls of
the bathroom that the elderly and the infirm in the family can hold on to when they use the 
toilet or go for a wash.

The concept of making bathrooms safe for the elderly is no longer an alien one. In the past,
traditional houses had bathrooms that sported floors with a rough finish and minimized the 
chances of slipping. Moreover, ropes were hung from the roof for the grandfathers and 
grandmothers to hold on to and man oeuvre around.

But with the apartment culture taking roots and swanky floorings taking over, a drop of water 
or oil can floor even the most acrobatic ones among us.

"As a matter of practice, all the apartments that we build have anti-skid floors in the bathroom,
" says Arun Shah, General Manager of Shree Dhanya Construction, Thiruvananthapuram.
"Of late, we have had requests from our clientele for fixing handrails in the bathrooms.
"We provide such accessories on request," he adds.

"It is mostly retired people who are asking for such accessories in the bathrooms.
"And that is about 10 per cent of our customers," says Annie Philip of Skyline Builders.
"But if somebody comes with specific requests we provide them," she adds.

Both Ms. Philip and Reena, Marketing Manager, Heera Constructions, say all their projects
have the standard specification of anti-skid floorings in the bathrooms.

With the concept of making bathrooms elderly friendly catching on, sanitary ware dealers have
introduced these accessories in the local market. Apart from handrails and shower grabs, you 
have all kinds of things such as raised toilet seats, toilet seats with support arms, shower chairs
and modular shelves.

All these products come in handy when your bathroom is cramped for space.
"Right now the principle choice is the product range from Press alit, a Danish company.
These imported fixtures are high-priced.

But it will not be long before these products are made indigenously, making it lighter on the
pocket," says Thomas P. Kurien, proprietor, Modern Agencies, Thiruvananthapuram.

Almost all leading sanitary ware manufacturers, including Parry ware, Hind ware and Jaguar 
provide raised toilet seats, handrails and shower grabs.

A few tips

Bathroom mishaps are some of the most common types of accidents that may leave the elderly
Incapacitated for the rest of their lives. However, with a little care such accidents can be easily

Here are a few tips:

  • Let the bathroom floor be on level with the rest of the rooms in the house. This would prevent one from tripping.
  • Use non-slip mats at the doorstep.
  • Install grab bars in the bathrooms.
  • Avoid using towel racks or wall-mounted soap dishes as grab bars, as they can easily come
    Causing a fall.
  • Keep the bathroom floor clean and promptly wipe away all spills.
  • Avoid using cleaning lotions that may leave a residue.
  • Use nightlights to help light hallways and bathrooms during the night.
So when you set out to build your dream house, give a thought to your parents. And maybe
your Own self and things to come in old age.

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