The Importance of Warm Water for Elderly Bathing
- Why Is Water Temperature Especially Concerning for Seniors?
- What Water Temperature Is Ideal for Bathing?
- What Benefits Does Warm Bath Water Provide?
- Other Ways to Keep Your Seniors Warm
- Why You Don’t Want the Bath Water Too Hot
- Why You Don’t Want the Bath Water Too Cold
- How Does Shower Bay Help Seniors Enjoy Warm Bathing Experiences?
It goes without saying that regular bathing is a necessary part of maintaining proper hygiene. Being clean helps you to avoid the onset of illnesses as it keeps germs and unhealthy bacteria at bay. Furthermore, it just feels good to be clean, doesn’t it? With that said, it’s important to point out that temperature matters. For the most part, no one likes icy cold showers. But the water that is too hot isn’t so great either.
Why Is Water Temperature Especially Concerning for Seniors?
If water is too hot, an elderly person’s sensitive skin can be easily scalded. As Carefect Home Health Care Services explains, “hot water can cause blood vessels near the surface of the skin to dilate, which causes a rush of blood to infiltrate the upper layers of the skin.” However, if it’s too cold, it can exacerbate or bring on health issues.
“Cold water can cause the blood vessels near the surface of the skin to constrict, which is the opposite of what happens in hot water,” informs the Carefect website, “This will reduce the amount of blood that flows to a person’s skin, internal organs and their heart. This reduction in blood volume can also cause cardiac strain and heart issues. Coldwater can also cause hypothermia in the elderly.”
What Water Temperature Is Ideal for Bathing?
When bath water is not too hot or not too cold – the very definition of “just right” – it provides a comfortable bathing experience. Of course, “just right” is different for everyone. But it’s important to be mindful of what is considered a safe temperature. Carefect insists that, as a rule of thumb, bath temperature should be only a few degrees higher than normal body temperature. They point out that any temperature above 102 degrees can affect a person’s health.
What Benefits Does Warm Bath Water Provide?
According to Gregg Balbera of Long Island Weekly, there are several benefits to warm bathwater. Among them is the reduction of inflammation. According to his article, a British study in the Journal of Applied Physiology corroborates Carefect’s contention that 102 degrees is an ideal temperature for bathwater. The same study found that individuals who bathe in such water for an hour can combat chronic low-grade inflammation.
Warm baths also help to lower blood sugar. A separate study, conducted at Loughborough University in England, found that the same one-hour warm bath soak lowers blood sugar better than exercise. It also found that warm bathing burns calories nearly as effective as taking a 30-minute walk.
Balbera also lists soothed muscles and joints, improved skin health, lower blood pressure, and better circulation as warm bath benefits. He cites a 2016 study by University of Oregon physiology researchers that found that a warm bath elevates nitric oxide in the blood. This allows blood vessels to relax. “Flexible blood vessels decrease blood pressure and promote better circulation and vascular function throughout the body,” he writes.
Other Ways to Keep Your Seniors Warm
Here, in the state of California, we don’t worry too much about cold temperatures. But, of course, we have our chilly days now and again. But, for the most part, keeping warm is pretty easy. There are, however, members of our elderly population who don’t find it all that easy to ward off feelings of chilliness. For many older adults, hypothermia can be an issue.
“Older adults are particularly susceptible to hypothermia, which occurs when a person’s body temperature drops too low,” informs CompanionsForSeniors.com, “Generally, hypothermia is said to set in when a person’s body temperature is 95 degrees or lower.” So, evidently, it’s important for seniors to keep warm.
Regularly Check In on Your Elderly Loved Ones
The proverbial horse’s mouth is always your most accurate source of information. How is the senior in your life feeling? The easiest way to find out is to ask. Be sure to do so often enough so that you recognize a pattern. For example, if they regularly complain of feeling cold, you know that some adjustments need to be made. Turn the thermostat up by a couple of degrees. Ensure that there are blankets readily available throughout the house.
As CompanionsForSeniors.com explains, checking in is especially important when it comes to seniors you don’t live with. “Don’t be afraid to stop in and check up on your elderly friends or neighbors, as well as your loved ones,” the website advises, “If you live too far away to spend time with your senior family, get in contact with a neighbor or family friend who can check in, especially after a snowstorm or power outage.”
Ensure Your Elderly Loved One Maintains A Nutritious Diet
You’ll never hear any health advocate recommend against nutritious eating. So naturally, eating well is necessary for good overall health. But did you know that healthy foods can help to keep you warm? As California’s Alegre Home Care explains, when seniors don’t get enough calories and nutrients, it becomes harder for them to regulate their body temperatures.
“Many seniors don’t eat as well as they could, either because cooking is too challenging or because they don’t have much of an appetite,” notes their website, “You can help seniors avoid these problems by cooking healthy foods for them and encouraging them to eat enough…Warm drinks like tea can also help seniors warm up on cold days.”
Keep the Home Warm
This tip comes from the “no brainer” column. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that there are many ways to keep the home warm. Not only is it wise to turn the thermostat up by a few degrees, but you also want to ensure there are no cracks in your home’s foundation. Drafts can significantly lower indoor temperatures.
“Aside from turning on the heater, there are certain tricks you can apply to keep your house nice and warm,” divulges Australia’s retirement living provider, Seasons, “To save on electricity bills, close the doors of any unused room and place door draft stoppers to keep the cold air out. You should also close all curtains and blinds once the sun has set so you can retain the heat for longer.”
Why You Don’t Want the Bath Water Too Hot
It should come as no surprise to you that hot bath water can be very dangerous for elderly people. This is especially true for older adults with underlying health issues. Does the senior in your home have any vision impairments? Does he/she have trouble with balance? Is his/her reaction time fairly slow? If there are any issues present, a senior could end up scalding his/her skin without any way to quickly and safely exit the bath.
“Hot water can cause blood vessels near the surface of the skin to dilate, which causes a rush of blood to infiltrate the upper layers of the skin,” explains Carefect Home Health Care Services, “Over time, if your elderly loved one lays in the bathtub for extended periods of time, then their bodies will try to compensate for this excessive blood. Overcompensation can lead to cardiac strain, which can lead to heart problems.”
Why You Don’t Want the Bath Water Too Cold
As you’re surely aware, you definitely don’t want an elderly person’s bathing experience to be a freezing one! The cold temperature can exacerbate health problems, especially in those with respiratory issues. In addition to the expected sneezing and sniffing that come with colds, a cold bath can lead to hypothermia. This condition occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it.
“Hypothermia is when your body’s core temperature falls to lower than 95 degrees,” explains Cleveland Clinic, “It occurs when your body can’t produce enough energy to keep the internal body temperature warm enough. Symptoms include lack of coordination, mental confusion, slowed reactions, shivering, and sleepiness.”
How Does Shower Bay Help Seniors Enjoy Warm Bathing Experiences?
For many seniors, walk-in tubs are chosen as solutions to their mobility issues. To avoid stepping in and out of a bathtub, and risking a fall, they simply walk into their tubs through the open doors. Once the doors are closed, however, that’s when the filling of the bathtubs can start. Depending on how long this takes, seniors can find themselves sitting in cold and uncomfortable environments.
Shower Bay, on the other hand, is a portable shower that can be assembled in any room of the home where a faucet is nearby. Because it is a shower and not a bath, the entire sitting and waiting process isn’t necessary. Instead, the water can be turned on at the desired temperature and the user can enjoy a warm shower with running water!
First published on: Nov 17, 2020
Updated on: Feb 27, 2023