Limited mobility and weakness are common reasons that millions of people have difficulty showering, bathing, and toileting safely on their own. Most of these individuals however wish to be as independent as possible while still avoiding injury. This is when adaptive bathroom equipment aids become important.
Before installing any such equipment, it is always best to get a home evaluation or at least consult an occupational therapist to look at all of the options and fully asssess the needs of the individual. However, here is a list of some of the most common items available.
1. Raised Toilet Seats
Being able to lower yourself to the level of the average toilet seat and to rise back up to standing or to sit in a wheelchair can be a challenge. By raising the level of the seat, the task can become much more manageable. Some raised toilet seats also come with arms which further assures no falls will occur.
2. Grab Bars.
Grab bars can be used in a number of locations. They can be placed in the shower, on the side of a tub, near the toilet, or anywhere else to help keep the person steady and to give them something to help pull themselves up or lower themselves down. Ideally, grab bars will be professionally mounted into an appropriate structure, such as wall studs to assure their reliability. There are of course models that adhere to flat surfaces with large suction cups but these aren’t as secure in general. If these models are selected they should be routinely checked to assure they maintain their grip. Normal towel bars can not substitute for a properly installed grab bar.
3. Shower Chairs and Benches.
For those who don’t have an adequate built-in seat in their shower, there are shower chairs which can fit in your shower. These can include arms for stability or they can attach to the wall as just a bench. Clearly there is much less risk of a fall if the person remains seated rather than standing while they shower.
4. Tub Seats.
Tub seats allow individuals to sit in the tub. They attach on the side of the tub generally and are very secure.
5. Handheld showers.
Handheld showers are ideal for those who use a shower chair or tub seat. Some of them provide control over the waterflow at the shower head making it easier to manipulate the controls.
6. Extended shower hoses.
Some handheld shower heads come with a rather short hose for those in a larger tub or shower. Extended hoses of 7 ft. or longer can be found.
7. Non-skid mats.
Slipping in the shower is a major risk. Non-skid mats are important to prevent this. Even mats and rugs on the floor of the room should be suspect. A non-slip backing is important everywhere.
8. Long Handled Faucets.
Reaching across a counter to manipulate knobs or shorter handles can be a problem. Extended handles can help in this situation.
9. Long Handled Sponges.
There are a variety of long handled devices that can help with bathing, toileting, and dressing. A long handled sponge can help in reaching anywhere on the body. Some allow you to put soap in the sponge. There are also reachers to help pick up anything that is dropped or to reach overhead, long handled brushes, long handled sock aids to assist in getting socks on with less effort, long handled devices to grasp and use toilet paper, and so forth.
10. Lifts and bedside commodes for those needing more assistance.
Lifts are sometimes used for those with the most difficulty getting in and out of the tub and bedside commodes are particularly useful for those who may not be able to go all the way into the bathroom in the middle of the night. These devices however, are most often used when a second person is available to assist.
As indicated above, a full home evaluation is recommended. Further adaptations to the layout of the bathroom, and other areas of the home may be needed. Lower counters, wheelchair accessible showers, and so forth may be warranted.