Taking a warm and relaxing bath at the end of the day is a nice way to reward yourself. Being immersed in the hot water, you feel all the stress just being washed away from your body- and somehow, you know that everything will be alright.
A hot bath relaxes your muscles and is very calming both physically and mentally. Taking a warm bath about 1 and a half hours before bed improves the circadian rhythm, which lowers your body’s core temperature, and helps you fall asleep more easily.
Beyond this wonderful feeling of tranquility, an extended hot bath (or what others call a hot water immersion) delivers even more benefits!
Soaking in a warm bath allows the blood vessels to dilate, improves blood circulation and temporarily reduces swelling.
For added benefits, add Epsom salt (magnesium + sulfate) into your bath water- this aids the body in getting rid of toxins which cause inflammation. Epsom salt can also help reduce stress and headaches, promote better sleep and soothe the skin.
A study done by the University of Oregon’s physiology researchers reveals that a hot bath increases the nitric oxide in the blood, which allows the vessels to relax. This in turn lowers blood pressure and promotes better blood circulation.
In Japan, where daily hot baths are a key part of their culture, a study revealed that frequent hot tub bathing is associated with lower risk of hypertension, 28% lower risk of heart disease and 26% lower risk of stroke.
With the combined effects of lowering blood pressure + increasing the heart rate, a warm bath strengthens the hemodynamic function- or how effectively the heart pumps and circulates blood all over the body.
For aging individuals, you probably know that cold weather signals the start of your seasonal joint pain and muscle aches.
A warm bath is an excellent therapy, providing temporary relief as it repairs and relaxes your body. Removing stiffness from your joints can also help you move better and get in and out of your bath more safely, reducing the risk of bathroom slips and falls.
The warm water opens up the pores, washes away the dirt and toxins from the surface of the skin, and prevents the skin from drying up. For added benefits, you can put in a few drops of diluted essential oils such as lavender, chamomile and frankincense for relaxation.
The steam from the hot water acts as a decongestant and moisturizes your nasal passages, clearing your sinuses and making it easier to breathe. This is an effective way of stopping cold and flu systems when they are just starting.
Studies suggest that a half-hour bath at 40 C (104 F) water temperature improves depression. The warm water calms your nervous system, helps you destress and balances your body’s serotonin levels (the key hormone that regulates your mood, feelings of well-being and happiness).
In short, a warm bath translates to a better mood!
While a warm bath comes with relaxation and therapeutic benefits, always remember that seniors and children can be extra vulnerable to accidents in the bathroom.
The wet floor, hard surfaces and small spaces can make slips and falls especially dangerous.
About 80% of falls in seniors (aged 65 and older) occur in the bathroom- with injuries ranging from minor scrapes and bruises to broken bones, head and back injury.
As a reminder to practice bath safety, January has been declared as the National Bath Safety Month. This is the best time to check your bathroom for potential safety hazards and risks, and to make the necessary changes.
Grab bars or handrails are best placed on the shower / bath and the toilet areas, or anywhere else where individuals might need support to balance or stand up.
On the bathtub area, the best placements for the grab bars are:
Additionally, we also recommend getting a grab bar towel bar or towel shelf- this is a towel shelf with a grab bar on top or beside it, so that you can grab onto something sturdy while getting your towel or wiping your hair with a towel.
Another accident-prone area is where older adults with limited mobility or balance lift one leg to step over the high sidewall of a tub.
In this case, a tub cut-out can help address this risk by converting your existing tub into a walk-in bath or shower.
A tub cut-out is done by removing a portion of the bathtub’s sidewall, which serves as the opening for easy entry. To be able to maintain the use of the bathtub, a watertight plug or door is used to cover the opening.
(If you choose to forego the plug or door, the tub will be converted into a walk-in shower, instead.)
For safety, the opening should feature a non-skid step pad.
Tub cut-outs are economical and easy to do, usually just requiring a few hours of work by your installer.
Anti-slip mats or rubber flooring for the bathroom are easy to buy and install.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing your non-slip mat for the bathroom:
A hot bath is relaxing, but be sure to control the temperature to avoid burns and scalding.
Safe water temperature for bathing ranges from 38 °C to 43 °C (100 °F to 109 °F).
Take note that some medications or health conditions like diabetes can make the skin less sensitive to temperature changes, so it is best to check the water temperature with a thermometer before getting into the tub.
A brightly-lit bathroom minimizes the risk of accidents.
It is also a good idea to install a motion sensor light to provide adequate lighting for evening bathroom use- This is very convenient as it means that seniors do not need to raise one arm to turn on the light switch.
An emergency call button offers added peace of mind as your family member can press a button or pull a string when they need help in the bathroom.
You can also use wearables with medical alert systems, where the user can easily call for help from the device.
Another convenient option is to place an Alexa device in your bathroom and set up the Alexa “call for help” feature.
For seniors, enjoying a warm bath and a relaxing private time in the bathroom are treasured parts of their day. Being able to use the bathroom on their own is a valued sign of independence- and something that makes older adults feel better about themselves and their skills.
The safer your bathroom space is, the more secure your family’s bath-time can be, and the more peace of mind you can achieve.
Let’s take part in the National Bath Safety movement- share your bathroom upgrades and ideas on social media and use the hashtag #BathSafetyMonth for the whole month of January.