As an owner of a home care company, I have received a lot of calls about someone’s elderly parent being afraid to take a shower or that they have already fallen in the bathroom. This is a very common problem amongst seniors and for individuals who have a disability.
There are many ways that you can help your loved one feel safe and also to be safe while taking a shower or going to the bathroom.
For starters, the bathroom should also be well lit.
When you take a shower, you move around quite a bit and everything is slippery. For this reason, all bathtubs should have a no slip bath mat in them. The bathtub should also have grab bars placed in the shower. Placement will vary depending on each individual. For seniors we normally recommend a shower chair so that the individual can sit in the shower instead of standing. One with a back is the best. Individuals will also need a hand held shower head. This way the individual can sit on the shower chair while they are washing and rinsing. A shower chair that hangs over the bathtub that also slides in and out is very useful so the individual never has to stand up in the wet slippery shower.
Sometimes seniors or individuals with disabilities have a fear of showering because they are scared they will fall and will be there for some time. For this reason we recommend having a phone in the bathroom. If you do not have a phone installed in your bathroom, it is highly recommended to buy a portable cordless phone that you can put in the bathroom. This way if you have trouble, you can call someone to help.
Another option for them to feel secure would to have set shower days, where they can have a friend, family member, caregiver or companion be there while they are taking a shower. Even if they are able to wash themselves and able to get in and out of the tub by themselves, just knowing that someone is there in case of an emergency makes them feel safer. We have a few clients that have our caregivers there just to standby assist while they are still keeping their independence and privacy.
We also normally recommend raised toilet seats with grab bars to make getting up and sitting down easier. They also sell a portable bidet which promotes independence for individuals with limited hand, finger, and arm functions to help clean themselves.
Physical Therapists and also Home Care Companies can help recommend products for individual needs. Most Home Care Companies will normally do a free safety assessment at the home to let you know what your loved one needs to be safe.
Written by Jenni Showalter
Owner of Huge Hearts HomeCare