When it comes to the safety of your loved one with dementia, the bathroom can be an area that causes a lot of concern. In any place with water and slick surfaces, the likelihood of slips grows exponentially. Luckily, there are so many steps that can be taken to prevent this altogether!
Here at Home Instead, we’ve had years of experience working with our clients' concerns around bathroom safety-proofing. Although each caregiving bathroom is unique, here is a list of our tried-and-true steps we recommend in any bathroom your loved one will use.
Adjust the water temperature
Water temperature is an easy, but often forgotten step, to creating a safe and comfortable cleansing routine for your loved one. We’ve all experienced a shower, bath, or hand-washing experience where all of the sudden the water gets way too hot and we rush to turn it down. For your loved one with dementia, this quick impulse is not as easy to regulate and could result in burns, slips, or an uncomfortable bathing experience.
To prevent this, you’ll want to look at your water heater (likely in the basement) and adjust the dial so you cannot run the water hot enough to cause burns.
Raise the toilet seat
When it comes to helping safety-proof the toilet, it’s all about raising the height of the seat. Although it may not seem like a big deal to us, your loved one with dementia may have difficulty sitting and standing from a further height down.
If you’re okay with spending more money, installing a raised toilet, designed to cater towards a height seniors need, will be great for prolonging independence. If a new toilet installation is not in the budget, order a seat riser and railings instead. The combination of these two safety precautions are an easy-to-install option that does the job just as well.
Does your loved one with dementia find spacial awareness difficult? Choose a different colored seat riser. This color differentiation makes it much easier to see and use independently.
Create a more comfortable showering experience
A lot of times with seniors we see a bit of anxiety around the showering experience. Although it’s easy for us to just jump in and out of the shower, there is a lot more difficulty that your loved one with dementia experiences.
For typical showers, the shower head is placed up high, requiring the constant turning back and forth underneath the faucet. For seniors, having the water run in their face can be a bit intimidating. To eliminate this issue, install a handheld shower head. This gives you as the caregiver complete control of the water pressure, spray area, and temperature so your loved one feels comfortable at all times.
One of the most common (for good reason) shower safety-proofing measures to include is a shower bench. No matter how young or old you are, sitting in the shower allows for a more relaxing experience. For your loved one with dementia, this will prevent any fatigue, while creating a better ambiance for this step in their daily routine. Depending on the shower you have, there are different sizes and backings that compliment your needs the best.
Prevent any bathroom floor slips
Bathroom floors are one of the most important safety precautions to consider because oftentimes if you have tile that can create a slick situation. You want to be sure that there are rugs in the bathroom, but rugs can also be a trip hazard. To prevent this, place double-sided tape around all the edges of a rug and then place the rug on the floor. It just adds some extra
security to ensure that that rug's not going to go anywhere.
For inside the shower, you want to consider a rubber mat with suction cups. This helps prevent any trips or falls that can occur when moving in or out of a shower.
Safety-proofing your loved one’s bathroom is essential to ensuring a relaxed experience every time they use it. If you’re having any difficulty in creating a safe environment in any part of your home, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Home Instead for additional support.