Bathroom Additions To Help With Elderly Independence

12 May 2015
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If you have an aging parent that still lives in their own home, or if your parent currently lives with you, then your elderly mother or father likely needs some help from time to time.  If you work, take care of children, or live far away from your parent's home, then you may not have the time to dedicate to their proper care.  Home health aides can be quite helpful in this regard, but your parent may feel depressed, angry, or uneasy about their loss of independence and the need for an aide in the home.  You can help your parent gain a small amount of independence by adding mobility and elderly care products to the bathroom.

Add Non-skid Surfaces

Many home health aides are hired to provide assistance with dressing and general hygiene care.  It can be embarrassing to ask an aide for assistance in the bathroom though, so make sure that you add devices to the room that will help your loved one.  To prevent slips and falls, purchase an anti-slip epoxy spray to add a textured surface to both the laminate or tile flooring and the bathtub.  This spray contains small aggregates that create a textured surface much like sandpaper.  Epoxy sprays come in different textures.  Choose a fine texture for the bathtub and a medium texture for the bathroom floor.

If you do not want to permanently alter the surfaces in the bathroom, then consider placing a rubber, vinyl, or thermoplastic nonslip bath mat on the bottom of the bathtub.  Designs with small suction cups are best to keep the mat from moving as your elderly parent steps into the bathtub.  Also, place non-slip bath rugs on the floor.  Make sure the rugs are less than one-eighth of an inch thick to reduce tripping risks.

Consider Toilet Aides

Wiping Assistance

Good hygiene practices include thorough wiping after going to the bathroom.  If your parent no longer has muscle strength or dexterity, then they may not be able to wipe properly.  Your parent may then need to ask their aide for assistance.  To reduce embarrassment, consider purchasing a wand or extension device that holds the toilet paper for your parent so they do not need to reach as far.  

If your parent is unable to wipe with the extender, then think about buying a bidet attachment.  These attachments can be added directly underneath the toilet seat and hooked to the cold water line that supplies your toilet with water.  A dial or button sits out from the edge of the seat so your parent can control the water spray that rinses their bottom after toilet use.  If your parent is serious about using a bidet, then you can purchase a new toilet model.  However, basic toilet replacements cost about $350 on average, and bidets are specialty items that can cost more.  A bidet toilet seat attachment is likely to be much more reasonable.

Toilet Seat Additions

Also, to make it easier for your parent to sit on the toilet, buy a raised toilet seat.  Either find a seat that will replace the old one, or look for an extender with handles that sits above the toilet seat itself.  If you do add a raised toilet seat, then make sure bidet add-ons are angled upward so that water sprays can still reach your parent's bottom.  

Even if you do add an elevated toilet seat, your parent may still need help sitting down.  Make sure to install handles on the wall to help with this.  Purchase sturdy steel rails and attach them about one foot above the toilet on the wall.  Attach the screws of the handle in the wall studs.  You can use a stud finder to locate the studs if the walls are constructed out of drywall.  If dense tiles cover them, then use a metal detector to find the screws that attach the wall substrate to the studs.  Place the handle screws either above or below these attachments to make sure they are secured in the studs.