Bathroom Safety Products For Seniors
Bathroom Safety Products Can Help Seniors Stay Independent
For some seniors, poor balance, weakness, or limited range of motion can make it difficult to bathe or shower. Tubs can be difficult to get in and out of and showers may create an even greater fall risk. For elderly individuals who are capable of living on their own but experience barriers to being able to do their self-care independently, there are assistive devices and adaptive aids that can help.
This page will discuss some of those options. In any situation, it's wise to consult with a physical or occupational therapist to fully assess the needs of seniors and to get professional recommendations on what accommodations would be best. This article simply covers some of the situations and equipment I've encountered while helping my mother make adaptations in her home.
Bathroom Safety Products We Used in the Tub
My mother is a senior who lives independently and hopes to be able to continue to do so. One of the first concerns she voiced was difficulty getting in and out of her bathtub. Although she's a small woman, her strength and balance are significantly reduced and she feared she might one day be unable to get out of the tub. We didn't feel she was at a point where help was really needed with bathing but we agreed that some adaptations were in order.
- Walk-in Tubs
Like many seniors, my mother prefers bathing in a tub to showering, so we started our search for bathroom safety products there. There are special tubs available which allow the user to walk into the tub just as you do a shower. This keeps the individual from having to step up into the tub and with the seat that's installed, they also don't have to lower themselves into the tub very far. My mother didn't want to make major changes to her bath so we went a different route.
- Long-Handled Sponges
The first thing that she decided to do was to get a long-handled sponge to help her in reaching her back and all other areas when bathing.
- Grab Bars
Next, we installed grab bars on the tub so that she could steady herself both when getting in and getting out of the tub. Again, she didn't want to make major changes so she opted to get the grab bars that attach via suction cup This allowed us to easily install them, relocate them any time we wanted, and avoid drilling holes into the shower wall. Unfortunately, we found that these grab bars didn't stay in place well. Therefore, I would recommend only properly mounted grab bars installed into wall studs so that they stay securely in place and can support the full weight of an individual. Here are some tips for DIY installation.
- Tub Benches
We also discussed a tub bench which would help eliminate the need to lower herself into the tub and the extra effort to get up from such a low position. Some tub benches merely sit in the tub like a chair while others attach securely to the side of the tub. My mother decided that this wasn't necessary, but agreed that it would be reassuring to have a medical alert system so that if she did fall in the bathroom or have difficulty getting up, she could summon help quickly and easily.
- Non-skid mats
Of course, other small changes like adding non-skid mats in the shower, tub, and on the floor just outside of each were also completed to reduce the risk of her slipping and falling.
Bathroom Safety in the Shower
My mother experiences periods of back pain which significantly reduces her mobility. Although she can typically use her tub, she wanted to also make some adaptations in her shower so that it could be used when use of the tub wasn't possible.
- Shower Chairs and Seats
Her shower has a step up of only a few inches and includes two shower seats. We discussed shower chairs but she felt the seats in her shower were sufficient as they're fairly large and certainly offer stability as they are part of the construction of the shower itself. They don't offer the added security of arms but short grab bars were placed appropriately to help her get up and down.
- Handheld shower heads
With the use of the seats in the shower, we needed to add a handheld showerhead so that she could direct the shower stream appropriately and operate it from where she was seated. She again chose one that mounted by suction cup to the wall so that installation would be simple. The shower hose itself was only 5 feet long, so we purchased an extended hose (7 feet) to fit her large shower.
- Non-skid shower mat
As mentioned above we placed a non-skid shower mat in the shower as well.
- Grab Bars
Of course, we installed a grab bar inside the shower next to her shower seat to help her lower herself into the seat and rise afterward as well as another just outside of the shower to help in entering and exiting.
Although my mother has no difficulty with her toilet, some seniors do have trouble either getting down on the toilet or coming up off of it.
- Certainly raised toilet seats can be really helpful for some of these individuals. They provide a higher seat and arms for stability.
- Grab bars next to the toilet can also be useful.
There are of course a number of other bathroom safety products that are very beneficial, they simply weren't ones that my mother required. An evaluation by a therapist can identify any needed adaptations and assistive devices. Just a few other modifications and adaptions might include:
- Widening a doorway if your loved one uses a walker or wheelchair.
- Long handles for faucets.
- Aids to assist with dressing (For example, a simple device to help with getting socks on or to button shirts.).
- Transfer benches and lifts for getting into the tub for those with more restricted mobility.
- Simple changes to reduce falls like adding night lights.
- Changes to cabinetry, such as lowering it or creating openings for a wheelchair-bound person to be better able to access it.
© 2009 Ruth Coffee