Are you upgrading your bathroom with new tools and features to make bathing and toileting safer? You may think a quick installation of some grab bars and handrails will do the trick, but there are actually several other considerations to keep in mind. Don’t forget to ask yourself these questions:
Which wall is the shower faucet on?
If you’re in the market for a transfer bench and bath chair, you may need to take into consideration which side of the shower the nozzle and your toiletries are on. Why? Oftentimes, assistive seats for bathing feature a portion of the seat that sits in the tub with a back on it and a portion that sits outside of the tub. If your bath chair/bench doesn’t feature a moveable seat with back, you will need to make sure the part of the chair with the back is able to face the correct wall with the faucet/showerhead and toiletries so you’re not turned around when you shower.
Is the lighting accessible?
Amidst all the grab bars, bath chairs, and non-slip mats, you may totally forget about the importance of lighting. Not only do you want bright, consistent lighting in the bathroom, but you want it to be accessible, preferably with light switches on both the outside and inside of the doorway (at a height roughly between your waist and chest). You may also want to consider placing automatic night lights that come on with movement, for those late night runs to the restroom.
Moreover, if there are any windows, you will want to make sure they don’t let in bright light that can cause a glare on the mirror and impair your vision. Install curtains or blinds accordingly that can easily be opened and closed.
Where will your toiletries stay?
You may think mobility equipment is your biggest priority when outfitting your bathroom with safety features, but something as simple as a toiletry dispenser will also go a long way in helping prevent falls and injury. As opposed to handling multiple slippery bottles or bars of soap in the shower, a toiletries dispenser can sit fixed to the shower wall and allow you to quickly get shampoo, conditioner, and soap into your hands with the simple push of a button.
What about the bathroom floor?
Non-slip mats and adhesive strips at the bottom of the bath or shower floor are an obvious upgrade, but what about the tile floor outside the shower? While a traditional mat or bath rug may seem like a fine option, they can actually be dangerous - feet can get caught on the corners, or they can slide around. Non-skid kitchen mats often do a better job and can both soak up water and keep you in place when you step out of the bath.
Can you install a hand-held shower head?
Especially if you will be taking advantage of a bath or shower chair, a removable hand-held shower head will be an ease-of-use upgrade you’ll love. The ability to sit and hold the shower head to rinse yourself off will lessen the amount of moving required in the shower (i.e. turning around) and make it easier for your caregivers if they help you bathe in the future. Removable shower heads come with tubing of various lengths and are fairly easy to install.
When it comes to preventing falls in the home, the bathroom is often the first place to start. Many bathroom upgrades can be done without professional installation and the equipment can often be found online or at your local hardware store.