For many people who provide home care to the elderly, safety in the home is one of the biggest issues. The bathroom in particular can provide a host of problems for the elderly. A few simple modifications can help make the bathroom both safer, and more comfortable. A caregiver should suggest making a few of these modifications to their clients, as it will protect them, and make access to things much easier on them.
The easiest thing that can be done to make the bathroom safer for elderly clients is to improve the lighting. A nightlight, or motion sensor light can help. A caregiver many also want to increase the wattage of blubs already placed in the bathroom. Extra lighting can help avoid some of the accidents that can befall elderly clients.
Modifying a bathroom for better mobility is more difficult, but can significantly improve an elderly persons quality of life. Widening the bathroom door way can help provide easier access for clients who use mobility aids such as power chairs, and walkers. 32” to 36” is recommended, as this allows plenty of extra room for clients to maneuver through.’
Mounting sinks at waist height can reduce bending in taller clients, as well as help provide access to people who may be spending much of their time in a wheel chair, or scooter. A larger shower area, with no steps, and a floor sloping towards the drain, can make the bathroom safer and more comfortable as well. Adding extra hand holds, and a detachable shower head can also help make the shower a safer place. For traditional bathtubs handrails are recommended, as they can help a patient stabilize themselves while bathing. It also makes it easier to sit, and stand in the bathtub.
The standard height of a toilet is 15”. Raising the height to 17” can make it easier for some clients to use. A caregiver can also make some other suggestions to help improve the comfort of a bathroom. Lever type handles on sinks, and tubs are easier on the hands than standard knobs. The same logic applies to door handles. Pull out shelving can help increase the usable space in cabinets, and also make the room easier for elderly clients to navigate.