The bathroom can be a source of many injuries for the elderly. Whether you are the one advancing in years or a caregiver, it is important to know how to best modify this important room to your needs.
Shower or Tub
The area of the bathroom that can pose the greatest threat of injury is the shower or tub. A slippery floor can cause a bad fall. But these items can ensure that both the elderly person and their caregiver are safe.
- If you have a shower, make sure the floor of the shower is flush with the rest of the floor. Many showers have a dividing curb to separate them from the rest of the room. Removing this curb will make it easier to get in and out of the shower without any unnecessary lifting.
- If you have a tub, consider installing a walk-in bathtub. Many elderly people are unable to lift their legs, so this will make it possible for them to bathe without having to be lifted into the tub.
- Install a sprayer attachment to the shower or tub faucet head. This will make it easier to bathe sitting down, as standing for long periods of time can often be uncomfortable.
- If your shower doesn't have a seat already, consider investing in a shower chair.
- Grab bars should also be installed in the shower to aid the elderly as well as caregivers. These should be properly installed by professionals, to ensure they meet your weight bearing needs.
- Always have anti-slip mats in the shower and any area where water might accumulate.
The toilet can be another problem area for the elderly, as it requires bending and lowering. A simple solution for this can be a raised toilet seat. This can be done with either a thicker seat, or a seat attachment that raises the patient further above the existing seat. There are also modified toilets available that are a bit taller if needed. Evaluate the individual needs of who will be using it to see which option works best for you.
This is another area where grab bars should be installed as well. This will help the elderly person to lower and raise themselves as well as caregivers to give aid where needed.
Counter Top and Faucet Area
Make sure the level of counter tops and cabinets is accessible to the elderly person. If this happens to be a shorter person, consider lowering them a bit to avoid an accident from overreaching and falling.
Another smart idea is to have lever faucets installed, rather than twist faucets. This will make it easier to use even with aching hands. It will also help to prevent an accident where the water is too hot but can't be adjusted quickly enough to avoid scalding.
Many items needed for any of these modifications can be purchased at a local medical supply store. Check to see what their offerings are, and if they include home installation services.