One of the disadvantages of getting older is that many people become more frail. Walking is less easy and there can be a fear of losing one’s balance, and bending down can be painful – especially in the lower back, hips, and knees. Nowhere does this become more obvious than in the bathroom, where climbing in and out of the bath and using the toilet can be difficult for some. There may also be the fear of slipping on a wet tiled floor.
Fortunately, there are a number of things that can help with bathroom assistance for the elderly. Some of the most simple to install are handrails which can be grabbed and can help with sitting down on the toilet and getting up again after use. In addition, there are drop down handrails which can be installed at the side of the toilet. Handrails can also be used to assist in getting into and out of the bath.
Suction grab bars can also be purchased which have powerful suction cups at each end and can be placed anywhere in the bathroom on a wall or other non-porous surface. These have pressure switches at each end which create a strong vacuum seal which gives ideal support without the need for drilling any holes. Simply releasing the pressure switches allows the grab bar to be removed and repositioned anywhere else.
Manufacturers are quite inventive, and there are a number of different items that can help the elderly in the bathroom. One of these is a powered toilet lift which can fit over the existing toilet and be used to lower a person down on to the toilet and then raise him or her up again after use. Another version uses a washable commode bucket which in effect makes the lift into a complete toilet. Also available is a raised toilet seat which adds four inches or so to the height of the toilet making it easier to sit down.
You can also install a powered toilet which is often called a toilet bidet. This provides a warm water wash followed by warm air drying after use, eliminating the need for toilet paper and also eliminating bending into the necessary position in order to use toilet paper.
Powered Bath Lift
Another form of bathroom assistance for the elderly is a powered bath lift. This has a powered unit which is attached to the wall along the edge of the bath and operates a belt which runs across the top of the bath to a seat installed on the outside of the bath. The user sits on the seat, then swings his or her legs over the edge of the bath and slides on to the belt. There are controls on the unit which gently lower the user into the bath. Some units are provided with a remote control handset. After having finished bathing one simply reverses the procedure in order to get out of the bath.
Using the shower can also be difficult, but when installing a shower in the first place it is often possible to build in a seat. If not, portable shower stools with non-slip feet and handles on each side to grip can be obtained very cheaply. There is also a wide choice of bath seats available for those who cannot easily sit down in the bath, and bath steps for use outside the bath to assist in climbing over into it.
In addition, for ease of bathing, a walk-in bath can be installed which completely eliminates the need for stepping over the side of a bath. Many of these drain very quickly after use so that users are able get out of the bath and dry themselves.