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Temporary and Permanent Solutions for Bathroom Accessibility
The ability to use a bathroom safely can make the difference between feeling helpless and feeling more independent. Someone who might still need some help in the bathroom can still feel better overall by needing less help thanks to proper bathroom modifications. Sometimes these changes need to be permanent, such as widened doorways or a walk-in bathtub, and can involve contractors and even structural changes to the room. At other times, the modifications might only be temporary and far less extensive. Either way, making such changes can restore someone's independence while helping to reduce the risk of dangerous slips and falls.
Someone in a rented house or apartment or someone staying with family might need a little help in the bathroom. There's no need to make drastic and permanent changes to a room in this case, so some temporary helpers may be enough.
Small changes like removal of a throw rug that could be a tripping hazard, or a raised toilet seat to make sitting easier, can make a world of difference for someone with mobility issues. These types of things can easily be reversed later. If a permanently installed grab bar doesn't seem necessary, then a frame designed to surround the toilet can provide leverage for someone who needs something to hold onto to get up and down.
A shower chair that can be taken in and out of the tub or shower eliminates the need to get down into a bathtub or remain standing while showering. A removable bath lift can also help lower someone in and out of a bathtub. A handheld shower head is ideal for someone who needs to sit in the shower, as it makes it easier to bathe and aim the water where it's needed. These types of removable and temporary helpers can reduce the risk of falls and make using the toilet and tub easier and less painful for many people.
Someone who is likely to need help in the long-term should consider making permanent bathroom modifications. There are several changes that can be made to make using the bathroom easier and safer.
A walk in tub is a permanent modification that requires a contractor to complete, but may be well worth it for the convenience of bathing independently without the need to get up and down. This type of tub allows the user to step in, usually only over about a 5" lip, and sit at about chair height while still enjoying an actual bath. This can reduce the risk of slips and falls dramatically, and allow the person to enjoy the benefits of hydrotherapy anytime, especially if the walkin tub has sauna jets as many do.
Permanently installed grab bars and rails may be necessary, and should be installed by a contractor or someone with experience to be sure they're sturdy. Bars and rails near the toilet, as well as inside and outside the bathtub areas, can save someone from falling and being seriously injured.
Another other option may be a lower toilet, for those who use wheelchairs, with modifications around it to allow more room for transferring back and forth. Someone in a wheelchair may also prefer a lower sink, and lower cabinets for things such as towels and hygiene supplies.
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