Fortunately, there are simple ways to improve a bathroom’s design to alleviate these headaches. From simple steps like using a non-slip mat to a more involved remodel like installing a walk-in bathtub, there are plenty of ways to make assisting the elderly in the bathroom as painless as possible.
Install a non-slip mat for the tub/shower. This is a simple and cheap way to provide sure footing while getting in or out of the bathtub.
Install a handheld shower head. Handheld shower heads are great in two ways: First, they allow a caregiver better maneuverability if a loved one needs help washing, and second, it allows for sitting down during bathing. Changing out your regular shower head for a handheld one is easy and can be done yourself.
Have a padded mat on the bathroom floor. This one is all about the caregiver’s comfort. If you’re kneeling for an extended period of time, your knees will start to hurt. Having a bath mat made out of memory foam that you can put underneath your knees can be a lifesaver (or at least a knee-saver!).
Grab bars. This might take a little more money and DIY initiative, but once those bars are in, they become invaluable to giving proper care to your loved one. Install the grab bars on walls next to the toilet and in the shower, and as a general rule the wall bars should be parallel to the floor.
These next few tips are more expensive solutions and most likely will require a professional to install, as you’re dealing with plumbing issues.
Walk-in bathtubs and showers. You can eliminate the awkward lifting in and out of the bathtub with walk-in bathtubs. You can choose to turn your existing tub/shower into a walk-in, but there are also models that can be installed in your bathroom too. Contractors take out your old tub and replace it with a walk-in, often with a built-in chair and plumbing fixtures that are easy to use. There are a lot of different models out there, so do some research to find the one that best fits your needs and your budget.
Install a higher toilet. For a lot of seniors, getting on or off the toilet is difficult because of the height of the toilet. Simply raising the toilet (sometimes as little as two inches) can make a major difference. Again, this can be a DIY task of simply raising the existing toilet, or there are many different models that can replace the existing toilet.
These are just six different ways to improve the bathroom for your elderly loved one. Do you have a remodeling tip that wasn’t included?
Chris Long is a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago suburbs. He also writes on plumbing, bath and toilet DIY projects for the Home Depot website. His bathroom repair tips also include tips on vanities, plumbing supplies and bath accessories for homeowners.