Tips For Creating A Safe And Accessible Bathroom For Elderly Family Members
If your older family member is choosing to stay at home despite mobility issues, that means having to adapt the house to reduce the risk of falls and other injuries. One of the most common areas where things like this can happen is the bathroom. Here are a few tips to help you remodel the bathroom to create a safe zone for your loved one's grooming and self-care needs.
Upgrading the Shower Enclosure
Showering is essential, but can be increasingly difficult to do with mobility issues. When you consider the risk of slipping and falling and the lack of basic support, the shower is a minefield of safety risks. The very first thing you should do is add some support rails to the shower. If your loved one has trouble lifting his or her feet, look for a new shower enclosure that has low sides. This reduces the risk of falling as compared to stepping over the edge of a deep tub.
Install new support rails on the sides and consider incorporating a couple of built-in shower seats. This provides necessary stability and a way to take strain off of potentially wobbly feet. The increased control over the environment can help provide a sense of confidence and independence.
While you're upgrading the features in the shower, take some time to consider the fixtures. A single-lever faucet system is much easier for those with arthritis and fine motor skill issues. Incorporate a flexible shower head to make bathing easier when using the safety seat. The more convenient you make the safety features, the more likely it is that your loved one will use them.
Making the Bathtub Accessible
If your family member is one of those people who just loves to soak in a hot bath sometimes, you'll need to spend some time dealing with the safety of the bathtub. The easier it is to get into, the safer your loved one will be. Consider investing in a tub surround with a water-tight door and a low step. This makes it easier to get in and out of the bath.
For older loved ones who struggle with basic motor skills and mobility, you might find it best to install a hydraulic lift on the bathtub. This type of lift makes it a breeze to get in and out of the tub – they even control the doors and can open up the drain after the bath. While the hydraulics may be expensive initially, they will last for years to come and can help your loved one stay independent longer.
Remodeling the Toilet for Safety
One task that many people take for granted as simple is basic toilet use. Unfortunately, many aging people struggle with getting onto and off the toilet, making standard toilet hygiene a struggle. If your loved one is showing signs of having trouble in the bathroom, there are a few things you can do. Replace the toilet with a handicap-accessible model. Add a few hand rails for support, opt for a wider toilet for ease of access, and add steps with a stool to elevate your loved one's feet.
Another common problem is basic bathroom hygiene. If your family member struggles with this, suggest an upgrade to a bidet. The temperature and pressure of the water spray can be adjusted on a bidet so that it is comfortable.
With so many different options, creating a safe bathroom environment is not as difficult as you might think. Talk with a remodeling specialist about other bathroom accessories and fixtures that you can incorporate into the design to help your aging family member maintain his or her independence.