When an aging parent or other family member moves into your home, you are probably happy to be able to spend more time with them but also concerned about what changes you need to make. One thing to focus on is the bathroom they will be using, since it may need to be modified in order to accommodate any mobility or health issues they are experiencing. According to experts, 80% of home falls involving seniors take place in the bathroom. Here are six ways to modify your bathroom for an elderly family member:
Add a Walk In Tub
If your family member has any mobility issues, a walk in bathtub can be a lifesaver. With a walk in tub they can simply open a door in the side of the tub and step into it before sitting down on a comfortable bath seat and filling the bath. This allows them to bathe safely and comfortably at home, without the potential danger of stepping up into and down out of a traditional bathtub or shower. For more details on walk in tubs, check out a site like http://www.twincitystairlifts.com.
Add Grab Bars
Grab bars inside the shower or bathtub as well as on the bathroom wall can help your family member safely and easily get in and out. Instead of drilling holes into the wall or tile, look for easily installed grab bars that stay on the wall with powerful suction cups. These are not only easier to install but make it simple to move the bars around depending on your loved one's height and specific needs. Grab bars can also be very helpful when placed near the toilet.
Raise the Toilet
For family members with bad knees or other lower leg injuries, lowering themselves onto the toilet can be extremely painful and even lead to falls or injuries. A simple solution is to purchase a raised toilet seat, which makes the toilet seat higher and makes getting on and off of it much more comfortable and safe. Both permanent and temporary add-on raised toilet solutions are available. Some raised toilet seats even come with built-in safety handles on the side to provide additional support.
Be Wary of Rugs
Bathroom rugs help keep the floors dry, but unfortunately they can also prove to be safety hazards. A bathroom rug can easily get caught under a wheelchair or crutches, and can cause your elderly family member to trip and fall. Instead of eliminating bathroom rugs altogether, look for non-skid bathroom mats with traction at any home improvement store. You may also want to add traction decals to the bottom of the shower or bathtub, for additional safety.
Don't Forget Lighting
Be mindful of your elderly relative sometimes needing to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or early in the morning when it's still dark out. Motion-activated nightlights in the bathroom and hallway are a great solution.
If your loved one is in a wheelchair or uses a walker, they may not be able to get in and out of a normal sized bathroom doorway. Widening the doorway usually involves the help of a professional contractor, but isn't necessarily an especially involved or expensive construction project.
The National Association of Home Builders now offers a special certification for builders and contractors who have been trained in modifying homes for the elderly. The designation is called Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) and if you hire one they will be able to evaluate your bathroom and let you know how feasible it is to widen the doorway, as well as how much it will cost.
By making these modifications to your bathroom, you can help ensure that your aging family member is safe and comfortable.