Aging in Place News & Info

5 More Problems Limiting Bathroom Safety and Comfort

Shoshana Shamberg

Shoshana Shamberg

By Shoshana Shamberg OTR/L, MS, President of Abilities OT Services and Seminars, Inc.

Click here to read the original 5 problems.

#1 PROBLEM:   Inadequate lighting can make shaving or make-up preparation difficult.  Finding the light switch in the dark is frustrating.

SOLUTION:  Increase illumination 2-3 X with non-glare fluorescent or frosted bulbs. A retractable mirror is a simple adaptation.  Night lights, lighted rocker or pressure sensitive switches, and easily accessible switch locations can make entering a dark bathroom safer.  Open bottom cabinets enable a person to place a chair or wheelchair close to the sink or mirror.

#2 PROBLEM:  Tight spaces in bathrooms make it difficult for an older person to maneuver safely or use this space using a wheelchair to access the toilet or bathtub.

SOLUTION: Widen the doorway (36″ minimum).  Remove the bathtub and create a wheel-in shower room with open access to the toilet and shower.  A moveable shower curtain can shield the rest of the room from water spraying during showering and a floor drain makes it easy to clean this room.  Other products which offer comfort and maximize independence and safety include: whirlpool baths, bidets, self-flushing toilets, and adjustable countertops and mirrors.

#3 PROBLEM:  The tub cannot be accessed by wheelchair or walker due to smallness of space in bathroom.

SOLUTION:  A wheel in shower room can be designed and constructed to increase access room in many bathrooms, depending on the configuration, level of structural modification required or possible and the space size.  The tub can be removed completely or a prefabricated accessible tub/shower installed.  Proper drainage and configuration are crucial.

#4 PROBLEM:  Standing up in the shower, getting up/down, in/out of tub is very precarious due to poor balance, mobility, and/or low endurance.

SOLUTION:  A sturdy tub seat with a back, transfer bench, a tub with a door, hand held shower, grab bar systems, tub rails, etc. are all helpful.

#5 PROBLEM:  Bathroom safety is an important issue and is often overlooked.

SOLUTIONS:  An emergency call system may be a lifesaver in case of a bathroom accident. Non-skid or cushioned flooring can reduce serious injury from a fall. Movement sensitive lighting for nighttime access can increase orientation when drowsy.  Proper training in the use of all bathroom equipment is crucial.

Click here to read the original 5 problems.

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