The bathroom can be a treacherous place, with so many hard surfaces and sharp corners. The National Aging in Place Council recommends certain modifications for making the three key elements in your home bathroom more senior friendly.
"As with all matters related to your aging parent, adapting his or her living space to ever-changing needs has to be approached with respect and understanding." — Susan Beerman and Judith Rappaport-Musson, eldercare management specialists
Shower – Get rid of the old tub and construct a shower stall with no barrier, which eliminates the need to step up and over and provides easy access. Install height adjustable, fixed and handheld shower heads, shower and tub grab bars and pull-down seat.
Sink – Lower the bathroom sink and make sure there's proper knee clearance for comfortable maneuvering.
Toilet – Install an elevated toilet seat that will make getting up and down more safe and comfortable.
If a full bathroom renovation is out of the question, you can still modify the existing space for safety and security using devices easily purchased at any medical or surgical supply store.
- Put a backless bench in the tub or shower – Your parent's physical condition will determine what kind of bench you need. Seek the advice of a medical equipment professional to be sure you make the right choice.
- Add a handheld shower head – The handheld devices are more flexible and allow you to wash hair and bathe more easily.
- Install an elevated toilet seat or toilet riser, which can provide the elevation your parent may need without having to replace the existing toilet.
- Correctly install grab bars in the shower and bath area – Do not use a towel rack or bar as a substitute for the real thing! Grab bars come in a variety of sizes and configurations to fit the space.
- Acquire some large, nonskid mats – Tub surfaces are often slippery. Make sure your parent only uses the tub with the mat in place.
- Install a phone in the bathroom.
- Purchase a portable toilet for night-time use in the bedroom – This helps avoid late night trips to the bathroom.