I walked into Mrs. Brown’s house and I do the usual safety inspection of the home. The most dangerous place for frail elderly is the bathroom. One of the simplest safety devices is a shower chair. But when I investigated Mrs. Brown’s shower, I discovered a lawn chair in the bathtub. The legs were beginning to rust, and the plastic weave bottom was loosening. This was a fall waiting to happen. The correct shower chairs matters and there are many different types of models.
The first question to ask yourself before purchasing a shower chair is how much does the person weigh. Small simple shower chairs usually are meant for people under 200 pounds. Every shower chair comes with a weight limit. The second question is the space to put a shower chair. Is it a tub or a shower? The third question is do they need a shower chair with handles or a back?
If a person has a tub, they must be able to get their legs over the side of the tub. If they are not able to do that, I recommend they purchase a shower bench where part of the bench sits outside the tub. That way the only thing the person must do is sit and scoot over. Some benches even come with a chair that a person sits on the outside and it glides over into the bathtub. Some bathrooms are very narrow, and the bench can block access to the toilet, so the bench needs to be put away after the shower. Another advantage of benches is that they usually can hold more weight.
If a person has a shower, I usually recommend a shower chair with a back and handles on the side to push up with. Most seniors need the handles to help them stand up and the back allows them to not fall back. Grab bars should also be installed at the entrance of the shower as this allows the individual to safely step into the shower.
The last piece of equipment is a handheld shower wand. This allows the individual to hold the wand and moderate the temperature and move it around to shower themselves. Most people do not want water splashing into their face.
Most of these devices in the United States cost between 50 to 100 dollars and is well worth it to prevent a major fall and broken bones. According to the CDC one in three people over the age of 65 fall every year and is a major reason they must be placed into a long-term care facility. Invest in safe shower equipment—you will not regret it. Feel free to contact any member agencies of OPHC and they will be willing to do a safety inspection of your loved one’s home.
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