Showers for the elderly that follow universal design practices help older and frail adults to maintain their health and independence.
Why Specifically-Designed Showers for the Elderly Are Important
Not all of the elder population is frail - only a minority, in fact. However, in the early 1990s, research indicated that while elderly individuals with specific physical needs make up only about 15-25 percent of the population worldwide, those the numbers are growing each year.
The ability to properly tend to daily needs enables many seniors live independently. Bathroom modifications provide peace of mind for safety as well as comfort. The good news is bathrooms are one of the least expensive remodeling projects to tackle for accessibility, especially if taken in stages.
Ideas for Safe Showers
Some ideas for making a shower safe and accessible include:
- Have a shower, or a whole bathroom, on the first floor. No stairs to climb up or down.
- Non-slip tubs or stalls. Adhere non-skid tub strips or rubber suction mats to help someone avoid slips. Place mats outside the shower area, too. If you have to replace an entire tub, some have non-slip finishes.
- Try a simple shower stall. In most cases, a stand-alone shower stall is safer than a bathtub, because there is no climbing in and out.
- Install a walk-in bath. Appliance manufacturer Wasauna offers the Safe Hands Bath. This walk-in bathtub may cost a little more, but it is a great solution for those who would like a bath and a shower.
- Attach guard rails on bath walls. This helps anyone reach out for better support.
- Reset water temperature. This reduces the potential for scalding. A comfortable temperature is around 90-to-100 degrees Farenheit. Obviously, the right water temperature depends on the individual, (48.88 Celsius). Water that is hotter increase the potential for burns.
- Install a hand-held or flexible shower head. This helps people with less flexibility reach areas all over the body easier.
- Invest in shower seats or chairs. Simply sitting down during a shower may be a great relief to many seniors. Many showers for the elderly are manufacturered with a bench as part of the wall surround, or you can buy one.
- Have an alarm close by. Senior medical alarm systems are a good idea for individuals so they can call for help quickly.
- Enhance the lighting. Simply increasing the bulb wattage might make a real difference in moving about with ease. Also plug in a nightlight.
- Place bath items in the same place. Make sure items like shampoo, washcloths, and towels are put in the same place every single time for those who may have trouble remembering.
If an elderly individual needs someone to accompany them into the bathroom while they shower for safety reasons, then privacy measures should be taken. Opaque liners or shower doors, robes positioned within easy reach, and quiet help to show respect.
Safe Shower Products
- InterNACHI offers a great checklist with recommendations about elder safety and products that can help.
- Active Forever features a huge selection of shower safety products that will benefit anyone who needs better accessibility.
- If you're looking at a complete redesign, consider these showers for the elderly and other people with physical limitations from Perfect Bath Solutions and Premier Bathrooms.
If you need to make bathroom modifications to your home or that of a loved one, start with this comprehensive worksheet provided by Home Connections.com to find a reputable contractor.