Bathroom Independence For People With Mobility Problems

Bathrooms are the site of most slips and falls in the home. Most fall-related injuries are suffered by those who are 65 and older, so there's a special need for safety features in a bathroom when there are elderly people in the home or people who use things like canes, wheelchairs and walkers.

Most people wouldn't balk at someone helping them down steps, into bed or out of a chair. But bathrooms are places where people want to preserve their independence and privacy as much as they can. It may not always be possible for a disabled or elderly person to be alone in the bathroom, at least not all the time. But there are many bathroom modifications that can help a person preserve some independence in this most private of places.

The easiest modification and also one of the most effective is the addition of rails and grab bars. Have a professional install these so that they're safely secured into the studs in the wall. Bars near the toilet and in the bathtub allow people to balance better and provide some leverage for getting up and down. In the case of dizziness or a slip, a grab bar that's sturdy and in the right place can prevent a devastating injury. A safety frame that goes around a toilet provides bars on both sides to help a person get up and down, and is a good option when there's no place to install a bar on one or both sides.

Raised toilet seats can help people who have trouble lowering themselves to a standard height toilet. In some cases, it may be better to replace the toilet with a model that sits higher. This will feel more secure than a thick seat. There are also lift toilet seats that operate much like lift recliners, and allow the person to be lowered from a standing position to a seated position and back, all automatically.

People who may have trouble turning or reaching enough to get properly clean after using the toilet can benefit from a hand-held device that serves as an extension of their arm. These devices are designed to let a person use the toilet paper without stretching, and then drop it into the toilet without having to handle it. Another option is a bidet toilet or bidet toilet seat that cleans with a small stream of water.

Bathtub lifts can help people take baths more easily. The user only needs to be able to sit on the seat to be lowered and lifted in and out of the tub automatically. Some of these can be used without the need to step in the tub at all, by sitting on the side and swiveling around. Shower chairs allow a person to take a shower while seated, which is a good idea for anyone with slight balance issues or who gets fatigued from standing. Walk-in bathtubs are a great option for a more permanent solution. A person can walk into the tub and sit at about chair height while enjoying a bath. This can reduce the risk of slipping and falling while getting in and out of a bathtub.

From a simple bar to a walk-in tub, options for independence in a bathroom are available for every type of mobility problem and every budget.

Brad Brubaker is a technical writer specializing in mobility devices for seniors and the disabled. Brad's particular area of expertise is bath tub lifts. For more information about bathlifts, visit AmeriGlide.

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