The aim is to make your bathroom as safe as possible and to minimise all possible stress on your joints.
On average we use the bathroom 7-10 times a day, based on my research. Unfortunately though, many people who suffer with arthritis experience a loss of strength, mobility and grip – which can all be a problem in the bathroom.
Slips, falls and sometimes trips in the bathroom account for a substantial rate in people aged over 65, and significantly increases in those aged over 80.
Based on this, I have been doing my homework and trawling the internet and made some findings and tips on how to use the bathroom safely.
- Always ensure your bathroom is well-lit and has an easy to reach switch - or an easy to pull cord switch. Never ever use a bathroom in the dark, as you may not notice anything that is lying on the floor. Or worse still any wet patches/puddles.
Also ensure there are no shoes, clothes or electric cords lying on the way on your way to the bathroom , as these will easily trip you whilst in the dark.
- Non-slip surfaces are absolutely essential. As ceramic tiles, especially when wet, can be extremely slippery and dangerous. Therefore, non-slip bathroom mats, and non-slip mats in the shower and bath and in front of the toilet, are essential for anyone who has mobility issues. These are always reasonably priced to buy and can help you prevent sprains and fractures, which would no doubt immobilise you for weeks, maybe even months.
- A raised toilet seat will make it easier for you to sit on the toilet and also to get up from it. These daily living aids raise the toilet seat by about 10cm and can be usually clipped onto the existing toilet seat.
- Fitting Safety / Grab rails next to the toilet can help make it a lot easier for you to use your arms so that you can lower yourself slowly onto the toilet seat and off it again. These can be wall-mounted and will give you something secure to hold onto. Toilet levers are also easier to operate than push-buttons when flushing the toilet.
- Fitting safety rails and grab bars beside the shower and bath are essential.
- A long-handled toilet paper aid can help you to wipe yourself after you have been. Having weak or painful hands can make this a hard task. Another option, but would require installation, would be to install a bidet. A bidet sprays warm water on difficult-to-reach areas that need cleaning.
- Taps with levers are much easier to open and turn on and off, should you have painful hands and wrists.
- Install a chair in the bath of the shower. It’s much easier to get up off a seat rather than out of a bath that is near level with the floor. Or buy a bath cushion that inflates and deflates as and when required. If standing is a problem for you, a chair in the shower would be the solution.
- A well weighted shower curtain will help reduce water spillage onto the bathroom floor. As light shower curtains can move too easily, and so water falls onto the floor. Wet bathroom floors are extremely dangerous for everyone, not just the elderly and infirm.
- This sounds easier that it sometimes is. But do try and clean the bath and shower after each use to try and avoid the build-up of slippery soap scum - which can easily be slipped on when in the shower or bath. Any long-handled mop may help make this easier to do.
- Use soaps and shampoos in dispenser bottles that can be operated using a flat hand. It’s easier than struggling with bars of soap or strangely placed bottle caps that can or are hard to open.
- Think about installing an easy-at-hand alarm button in your bathroom just in case you fall or need any help.
- Single-storey homes are preferable if you suffer from arthritic joint pain. Try and avoid the situation whereby your bathroom is on a different floor to your bedroom.