Preparing a Bathroom for an Elder

We often think that our lives differ somehow from the “Good Ole Days”
when multiple generations of a family lived together in one home, sometimes
several generations together under one
roof. But in the current economic climate with children leaving the nest later
and the elderly needing care that families simply can’t afford to
hire, multiple generational families are becoming common.

Post-war baby boomers are aging and their safety and health are being overseen
by the next generation. Taking on the care of an aging parent can be intimidating
since we are trained from birth to depend on our parents for our own safety
and health. Ratcheting up the safety factor in the bathroom can be an
easy way to introduce ourselves to the idea of “caring for”
our elders.

If you don’t have a modern or
new home, take a fresh look at the bathroom that older family member uses with
an eye for basic safety. Is there a bathmat with a rubberized, non-skid
undercoating? Are there appliques or some other form of anti-skid prevention
in the bottom of the shower or bath?

And when was the last time you thought about the water temperature out
of your hot water faucet? Our senior family members may be moving a little
slower these days and can’t react as quickly to a sudden burst of
hot water; their skin has become more fragile and subject to injury. It
does not heal as well as it did in their younger years. These factors
combined with very hot water can lead to a tragedy.

It is federal law that manufactures must set the thermostat to heat the
water to 120 degrees on all
water heaters before they released for sale. The installer is also equally compelled
to leave that setting where he found it. For anyone else (usually the
homeowner) the thermostat setting is a matter of personal choice. If they
choose to set the water temperature to 140 degrees or even 160 degrees
it is their right to do so. In many homes circumstances have at times
dictated those higher water settings, but in a home with an elderly resident
safety over-rides any other consideration. Check the water heaters thermostat setting.

Many seniors hold a silent fear of bath-time, they are unlikely to talk
about it, may not even be consciously aware that that is what they are
feeling. They just know they dread bathing. The consequences of that fear
can be difficult to live with.

There are devices that have been created to make bath-time easier on everyone
involved. They are almost innumerable and finding the ones that are most
helpful to your particular situation can be over-whelming. Next week we
will begin discussing these helpful aids and hopefully, we can remove
some of the intimidation factor.

Other things to consider are is the condition of your yard. Is there enough
room for your parents to walk around? Will you need to do serious
landscaping and hardscaping to make it easy for them to get exercise?

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