This is a collaborative post
If you care for your elderly parent, you will know the home presents a few hazards for those who are struggling with stability, memory, or sight. The bathroom itself poses a lot of hazards, as there are a lot of slippery surfaces. In this article, we go into detail about how to keep your elderly parent safe in the bathroom.
Shower chairs are an important addition to any bathroom, as they allow your elderly parent to spend the time they need in the shower, without getting too exhausted standing on their feet. This offers dignity and independence to continue washing, even as they get older.
Shower chairs also minimise the risk of slips and falls whilst in the shower. Mobile shower chairs are also great for elderly parents who are in a care home. NHC Group has more information on the different types of shower chairs available and what features to consider when getting one for your parent or relative.
Whether you have a bath or shower, grab rails are essential to give your parent something to hold on to. This simple step can minimise the risk of falls and give your parent more independence when it comes to getting into the bath or on the toilet. If there are no grab rails, other items in the bathroom (like a towel rail) are often used in an attempt to pull themselves up.
This of course is not stable, causing accidents, as well as damage in the bathroom. For your parent to be able to make use of grab rails, they need to have the upper body strength to do so. This is something you will have to determine for yourself and by speaking to your parent. The best rails are ones that can be bolted into the bathroom wall, rather than suction rails.
Check Water Temperature
Another way to keep your elderly parent safe in the bathroom is to regulate the water temperature. Scalds are very common in older people, especially when they struggle to see small details, such as the temperature gauge in the shower. For those with dementia, forgetting that the shower can get hot enough to scald is a common occurrence.
If your loved one is vulnerable in any way to scalding, it is best to check the water temperature in the home and change it to a safe level. The recommended highest level is 44°C.
Raised Toilet Seats
A fantastic way to promote independence whilst toileting is to install a raised toilet seat. For many older people, getting up and down from the toilet is a lot of effort, even with grab rails. Having that extra couple of inches added to the toilet seat makes toileting more comfortable and much less daunting.
A raised toilet seat can be installed at many different heights, so it is best to speak to your parents and consider what height would be most suitable for them and their mobility. These can also have arms attached, which makes it easier for lowering to the toilet and getting back up, but it is still advisable to install grab rails too.
Baths can be difficult terrain for those who cannot lift their legs over the sides of the bath. You should never lift your parent into or out of the bath either, as this poses a huge safety risk. There are 2 main options when it comes to bathing: a walk-in bath, or a hoist. This is dependent on how much room you have in the bathroom, as hoists can take up a lot of room and you must know how to move, lift, and handle someone else safely.
Hoists also generally require at least one other person to be available whenever your parent wants a bath. If your parent is still able to wash and struggles with mobility, a walk-in bath could be the answer. This is simply a bath that has a door, which you can step in rather than climb over.
Lighting and Doors
For those with sight issues, poor lighting in the bathroom can cause accidents. If your parent is unable to see properly, the risk of falls and slips is heightened. Ensure that the bathroom is well lit and the switch to turn on the light is easily accessible.
It is a good idea to install a door that opens outwards, so if anything does happen you can get access. You should also consider whether a lock is appropriate for the bathroom door. If your elderly parent is struggling with memory or has a fall, you may not be able to get in to help.
When it comes to caring for an elderly parent, bathroom safety is paramount to keeping the home safe and accessible. Consider all parts of the bathroom from a shower chair to lighting and doors, as this can all make the bathroom a safer place for an elderly parent.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post