Keeping Mum & Dad At Home: Bathroom Aids
A slip or a fall can cause very minor or very serious injuries, depending on the circumstance. They are very common in the bathroom due to baths/showers and spills of water. The older we are or the less mobile we are, can increase the impact they have on our bodies so if there is any chance of us decreasing the chances of them, then we should take the opportunity to do so as they can have a huge influence on our everyday lifestyle, independency, confidence and mental health.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics, over 30% of adults over the age of sixty-five, have at least one fall a year due to their own health e.g. muscle weakness, mobility, poor eyesight and balance problems. Although, not all falls results in bodily injuries, over 20% of these adults will require medical attention for a fall and 5% of them will experience a serious injury like a fractured bone. Unfortunately, there are also some circumstances where falls can be fatal.
The most common place for a fall or a slip inside a house is in the bathroom. To prevent these accidents from happening, we can put bathroom aids, rails and safeguards in place. Having an aid in place, does not mean you have a mobility problem, but that you are just being proactive in preventing the chances of an accident. The introduction of these aids, does not mean your parents have lost their independency but rather increased it. With these in place, they won’t struggle getting in and out of the bath/shower, rising from the toilet or standing in the shower for a prolonged time. It offers them stability and safety when in the bathroom and it offers you, the peace of mind when they are in the bathroom on their own.
A grab rail can help in the reduction of slips and falls when climbing in and out of the bath or rising from the toilet. They come in different styles and lengths and are available with a suction feature, so they can be removed easily if needs be. They can be placed inside or outside of the bath/shower and beside the toilets to help your Mam and Dad with their balance.
There are also simple steps that can help them with moving in the bathroom, stepping in and out of the bath/shower, reaching for towels or the sink. There are also non-slip mats that can be placed at the sink, shower or bath to prevent a slip or fall from a wet floor.
If your Mam and Dad are less mobile and need help to be lifted in and out of the bath, we also provide bathing lifts which are simple but effective. A bath lift will gently lower the user in and out of the bath in a secure way keeping them in a comfortable position. It significantly decreases the risk of falls and slips when using the bath. They are lightweight, easy to navigate and they also fit in most baths.
If your parent prefers a shower over a bath, a simple shower chair or stool will offer them stability without having to stand. These are neat and discrete, as they come in a wall mounted style or a fold up style and are also available as a standalone, portable chairs. They give you a comfortable shower experience while keeping you supported.
Another option is a level-access shower which makes entering the shower as simple and safe as possible and significantly reduces the risk of a fall. It makes the shower accessible for a wheelchair and easier for people who struggle with their mobility. Adapting a bathroom with a level-access shower can be expensive but there is a means-tested Housing Adaptation Grant available up to €30,000 should you decide to go down that route. If you are renovating a bathroom, or if you are embarking on a new build, you should always try to future-proof your bathroom by incorporating a level-access shower or wet room. Your parents may be able-bodied and independent now, but their mobility will deteriorate over time and they may end up living with you. It’s much easier and far more cost-efficient to make the adaptions when the work is being done rather than having to endure the inconvenience and expense of such renovations later.
When it comes to using the toilet, your Mam and Dad will want to maintain their independency for as long as possible and one way you can obtain this is by adding a raised toilet seat. It will elevate the toilet for them, meaning they won’t have to lower themselves as much and they won’t struggle to rise after use. The raised toilet seat can increase their comfort, usability and independency while using the bathroom. They are available with or without armrests and can be adjusted in height to suit all sizes.
Another option for toilet assistance is a toilet frame. This product frames the toilet to help the user to get into a sitting position and to help them get up off the toilet. These are also height adjustable so can be used for different sizes.
A more expensive option for assistance while using the toilet is a battery-powered lifting seat. This rises to meet the user in a sitting position and can also be used by other members of the household by lowering the seat. It fits over standard toilets, it is discrete in a modern home and is easily installed. The battery-powered seat can be used to aid people who suffer with joint or muscle weakness in their legs, multiple sclerosis or obesity.
Most of these adaptions and bathroom aids are relatively simple, hassle free, and inexpensive. As mentioned previously, for larger more expensive adaptions, a means-tested Housing Adaptation Grant is available up to €30,000. For basic and cheaper alterations and bathroom aids such as grab rails, bath lifts, and shower adaptions, a means-tested Mobility Aids Grant Scheme is available and provides a maximum grant of €6,000.