Many elderly people are opting to move in with their children instead of moving into assisted living facilities. This choice helps to keep the family closer together, but if your parents are disabled, you'll need to make some modifications to your home so that they can live with you safely. Many modifications are necessary in the bathroom. Here are three ways that you can make your bathroom more accessible to your elderly parents.
Install a raised toilet
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recommends that toilets should have a height of between 17 and 19 inches. This height makes it easier for people to sit down and stand up again. However, standard toilets are lower than this and are often only 14.5 inches tall. If your toilet is too low, your parents could have trouble getting on and off the toilet, even if you add grab bars nearby.
Raised toilets—also called comfort-height toilets—can be installed in place of your existing toilets. These toilets are designed to meet the ADA standards for toilet height. If brand new toilets aren't in your budget, toilet base risers are also available. These base risers can be installed beneath your existing toilets to raise them higher off the ground. Another option are raised toilet seats. These seats are thicker than standard toilet seats and provide additional height without excessive costs.
Install a raised sink
Another problematic area in your bathroom could be the sinks. Your sinks may be too low, meaning that your parents need to bend forwards to wash their hands. This can be painful for people with arthritis or other similar conditions. Low sinks can also pose a problem for wheelchair users since there isn't room for the wheels to fit underneath. These problems can be resolved by replacing your existing sinks with raised sinks.
If your parents are wheelchair users, your sinks need to have at least 27 inches of clearance between the bottom of the sink and the floor. This height leaves sufficient room for a wheelchair. If they're not wheelchair users but have trouble bending forward, raise your counter and sink high enough that they don't need to bend forward to use it. The ideal height will depend on your parents' heights, so there's no one-size-fits-all guideline; a physical therapist can recommend the right sink height for your parents' needs.
Install a walk-in tub
Bathtubs can be very dangerous for elderly people. Not only do your parents need to climb over the edge of the tub, but they need to lower themselves to a seated position and then stand up again. Since tubs can be slippery, it's no wonder that two-thirds of all bathroom injuries occur in the tub or shower. For elderly people, these injuries are more likely to be serious and include things like hip fractures. To protect your parents, install a walk-in tub in your home.
Walk-in tubs have a swinging door, so users can simply step inside. This is safer than needing to raise their legs over the walls of a regular tub. They also have a built-in bench, so your parents can bathe themselves in an upright sitting position, instead of being stretched out like they would be in a regular tub. This upright sitting position can make it easier for your parents to get out of the tub when they're done bathing. Walk-in bathtubs require professional installation, but if that's not in your budget, you can hook up a portable walk-in tub to an existing faucet.
If you're going to be caring for your elderly parents at home, make modifications to your bathroom to make them more comfortable. For more information about options you may consider for modifications, check out sites like http://www.twincitystairlifts.com.