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Getting a bathroom ready for caregiving. Do this first!!

Hello Again,

 

I am a nurse, as well as Mom and caregiver to both of my elderly parents.  What I learned right away and have to keep remembering is to NOT start hammering and drilling immediately.  Do not decide where a grab bar needs to go until you have the "patient" in your home.  Each person has different strenghts, weaknesses and habits.  Not to mention height and weight.  These things also change as we age.

 

Do have commodes, shower chairs and safety items in place of course.  But do not make any permanent decisions.  I actually told my husband that we should put paint on my Dad's hands so we could see everywhere he grabbed naturally.  We used pencils, markers and observation.  The Moen brand suction bars worked great at my home but not on the tile at my parents previous home.  The great thing about these is you can put them where the person naturally reaches on the their own versus yelling " no, grab here". Plus if you do end up putting in more permanent fixtures, you can be fairly sure you picked a good spot.

 

Keep in mind that needs change.  A minor injury can change ones needs quickly.  After a fairly minor knee injury my father needed a lift cushion on his chair and would have needed the toilet seat raised for one week if we were not able to assist him.

 

Last night, my husband and I were both in the downstairs bathroom assessing the options and re-applying the suction grab bars. After we had things in place, we brought Dad in (fully clothed) to walk through the steps of getting in the shower, seated and back up.  Guess what? We had to tweak a few things!  This is normal. Although Dominic safely applies each bar and hangs his full weight on it, my father may find a way to make it fail. Or what we thought was a good spot for a grab bar, did not work for my father.

 

Things change.  Do not forget to re-assess. Luckily for me Dominic is very skilled with tools as I am only good at the assessing and planning part.  The last time I tried to work with tile it was a disaster. 

 

Another thing to consider is who else uses the bathroom?  We created the downstairs living space virtually overnight (not reccomended) for my father to recover in and my mother to visit.  Six months later and two weeks in the hospital, my mother has resigned herself to being here permanently.  Her needs are a little different.

 

The more your loved one can do to assist with their own care, the less wear and tear on the caregiver. By giving them the best tools, it is a win-win.

 

My mother is is not much shorter than my father but her hand strength is poor, she weighs a lot less and she fatigues easily due to her oxygen demand.  She has not interest in sitting on the shower chair but needed shower knobs that she could work independently and wants a shower head with hose so she can clean the shower.  Of course I do not want her scrubbing the shower but my husband is going to take her to Home Depot to pick out one she likes. My Mom never wants to bother anyone!

 

I recently started my own blog. I have learned so much in the last year. I have years of nursing experience but have learned so much from observation and good old trial and error.

 

Life is an Adventure. Stay safe!

AARP Expert

@af3505202 @HaivosE760865 

 

Thank you for sharing your experiences and resources! AARP has a GREAT resource called the HomeFit Guide - helps you go through your home and look at things from an "aging in place" standpoint! 

 

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving

 

Periodic Contributor

Oh boy. The material is great. Thanks a lot. To return a favor I can recommend the greatest custom shower frames, doors and other bathroom appliances. That's the best choice https://www.goglassnj.com/. And the prices are great for such a category. Hope it helps 

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