People of any age can enjoy the pool as long as you make senior pool safety a priority. Senior swimming pool use can provide exercise, much-needed relaxation, a chance to socialize, and a site for therapeutic activities. Before they get in the pool, however, you need the right pool safety equipment, and both they and their caregivers need to understand how safe pool usage changes as we age. We’re proud to be your local pool safety professionals, which is why we work so hard to ensure the pools in our communities are safe for everyone, and even our most experienced swimmers have the information they need to keep their family swimming pool an enriching part of their lives.
Check With Your Doctor First
One of the first principles of senior pool safety is to speak to their physician first. Whether they plan on using the pool for exercise, therapy, or just for fun, senior swimming pool usage comes with additional concerns not faced by healthy younger adults. Verify they have the strength, cardiovascular health, and dexterity to use the pool safely and whether those capacities are sufficient to use the pool on their own or if another swimmer should be present. Even if the doctor fully endorses pool use, make sure their time is limited, as the cooler water can tire out elderly swimmers quickly. The physician may also recommend additional pool safety equipment to make using the pool easier or to help you better manage an emergency in or near the water.
Safety Barrier Save Lives
The National Drowning Prevention Alliance cites a lack of safety barriers as a contributing factor in the majority of accidental drownings. An important part of senior pool safety, they help prevent water access by those who may not be able to safely use the pool on their own due to physical or cognitive decline as well as kids who may be visiting with their elders. In addition, many states, communities, homeowners associations, and insurance carriers require these safety barriers to be installed to protect all private and commercial swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs.
- Removable Mesh Pool Fencing – This modern pool fencing is low-maintenance and durable. Strong poles are anchored in the ground around the pool area with a rip-resistant mesh stretched tautly between them that has no handholds or gaps to aid climbing. A self-closing and self-latching gate keeps the pool area secure from unsupervised access and is ready to accept an alarm to further increase protection. While incredibly secure, the entire installation can be removed temporarily if more space is needed for entertaining guests, easier wheelchair access, or to move specialized pool equipment into and out of the pool area more easily.
- Swimming Pool Safety Covers – Not to be confused with regular leaf covers, which can create a drowning hazard due to entanglement, swimming pool safety covers are anchored around the edge of the pool and designed to hold the weight of a full-grown adult on top of their UV and tear-resistant fabric. While they do help keep leaves, dirt, and debris out of the pool, their primary function is to help prevent access to the water should someone stumble or fall near the pool’s edge.
- Swimming Pool Safety Nets – Similar to pool safety covers, safety nets are anchored around the edge of the pool to prevent access to the surface of the water. The strong knotted cord and twine, however, are held tight by the steel springs of the central tensioning system to help it adapt to pools that aren’t standard-shaped or have permanent fixtures installed.
Many homes where a senior will be using the swimming pool will choose a multi-layered approach to pool safety. Installing a removable mesh pool fence as a first line of defense with a swimming pool safety cover or net behind it gives you that much more peace of mind. For more mobile seniors, a mesh pool fence is easy to use, while the pool net gives them a second layer of protection that can be easily rolled up and re-installed in minutes with little difficulty.
Senior Pool Safety Tips
- Bring a Buddy – It’s important for the elderly to retain as much independence as they can, but when it comes to senior pool safety, that doesn’t mean they have to do it alone. Using the buddy system is safer should an accident, injury, or other emergency occur. A second pair of hands can also make using the pool safety equipment easier, and who doesn’t love having a workout or hangout buddy when it’s time to get in the pool?
- Slippery When Wet – One out of four adults over 65 slips and falls every year, making it the most common source of injuries for that age category. The pool area can be especially unforgiving, with hard concrete or wood decks that hurt more and wet surfaces that make losing their footing easier. Traction strips can be added around the pool for increased senior pool safety, and make sure handrails are installed near entry points to aid the transition in and out of the water.
- Make Entry Easier – Ladders can be especially difficult for the elderly, and some steps may even prevent challenges. You can make it easier to get in or out of the water by installing a ramp with a handrail that lets them more easily walk into the pool or consider a chair hoist. These devices lift the senior in and out of the pool comfortably, making them popular for mobility-impaired older adults who have difficulty navigating steps or inclines.
- Plan For Breaks – As previously mentioned, senior pool safety is much more temperature dependent because we lose our ability to adapt to shifting temperatures as we age. Between the changes in our skin’s ability to insulate us, declining circulation, and other factors, senior swimming pool use should be kept to temperate pool times, and if possible, a heater might need to be added to keep the pool warm enough to avoid chills and hypothermia. Even when the water is comfortable, however, frequent breaks need to be planned to allow time for resting tired muscles, refreshments for energy and hydration, and bathroom breaks, particularly if incontinence is an issue.
- Teach an Old Dog New Tricks – No matter the age, it’s never too late to learn to swim. While your older family member may not be getting ready for the Senior Olympics, they can learn how to better navigate the water, basic swimming, floating, or survival techniques, and even more about how they can focus on senior pool safety on their own. Visit your local American Red Cross to find swimming lessons and water safety programs that best meet your senior’s unique needs.
Create a Safer Senior Swimming Pool
There’s no cost or obligation to get an estimate and safety recommendations from your local pool safety expert. Our pros live and work in the communities they serve, and they bring their life-saving passion to every pool. They’ll talk to you about your swimming pool’s needs, take measurements, and give you a written quote that lays out your swimming pool safety equipment options. Take the first step today. Call for your free quote from Lifeguard on Duty today.