One of the first things a caregiver faces when bringing their loved one home is safety challenges. If the home is not ready for the walker or wheelchair, the patient can feel frustrated and be at high risk to slip and fall.
That’s why this month Hospice Brazos Valley is focusing on Bath Safety Awareness. We asked our friends at Stearns Design Build to help us understand how to prepare your bathroom at home for the person you are caring for. We are big advocates for Aging in Place, which allows seniors to stay in their homes longer which enhances the quality of life in the home.
Here are 12 tips you will need to consider when wanting to change and possibly remodel your bathroom to make it as safe as possible:
Grab bars: The back wall and control wall of the shower stall is the best place to place grab bars. The ADA recommends that two bars be installed on the back wall, one 8 to 10 inches from the rim of the tub and the other parallel to it 33 to 36 inches from the base of the tub.
Cork flooring and small tile that provides better traction: Cork is sustainably harvested, recycled, and has hypoallergenic properties. Smaller tiles can have several different textures which can prevent slipping.
Curbless showers and Walk-In bathtubs: A curbless shower slopes toward the drain, so that water naturally rolls down. A walk-in tub has a low threshold that makes it easy to get into the tub so there’s no climbing!
Pedestal sink & vanities: Pedestal sinks allow for anyone in a wheelchair or walker to get much closer to the sink because there is room for their legs underneath the sink. This helps prevent anyone from having to bend over to reach the faucet, which in turn helps prevent water splashes from getting on the floor and becoming a slip hazard.
Lighting: Sometimes the right light fixture or a higher wattage of lightbulb can make all the difference. In addition, you can also find lighting that is motion-activated; turns on when the person comes into the bathroom, and turns off when they leave the room.
Wide doorways: The ADA recommends doorways be three feet wide to allow for easy passage for anyone in a wheelchair or that uses a walker.
Door plumbing fixture levers: Both the door handles and faucet handles benefit from the additional leverage and torque provided by levers rather than knobs.
Movable benches in the shower (as opposed to fixed benches): The days of a shower seat like grandma used from the pharmacy are a thing of the past. Now you can have attractive options for removable seats. Some can fold down from the wall, others are ones that can be used and then put in the corner of the bathroom as decor. If you go with this option, look for durable materials such as teak, which resists water and mold growth.
Handheld shower head: Great for the person bathing or caregivers who find themselves assisting with bath responsibilities
Low shower controls: This is helpful for those in wheelchairs or walkers who are unable to move themselves around once in the shower.
Accessible height for toilets: American with Disabilities Compliant Toilets measure 17" - 19" from the floor to the rim.
Contrasting colors from counters to flooring: Contrasting colors between the floor and the counter make more obvious the edges of the counter, which helps prevent things from being set too close to the edge of the counter. It also allows the edge to be seen more clearly when support is needed.
If you are concerned about upkeep, consider going with a home maintenance subscription service. Sometimes homeowners aren’t able to keep up with the maintenance of their homes due to health & safety reasons, so this service allows for the homeowner to have peace of mind.
And if you still are unsure about how to help your loved one, consider talking with a social worker for advice.