The bathroom can feel like a dangerous and intimidating place for a recent stroke victim. Thankfully, you can easily make it a safe and comfortable place for them with a few modifications. Here are some tips for adapting your bathroom to care for a stroke survivor.
In recovering from a stroke, it's so important for the patient to be able to bathe themselves and feel comfortable doing so. With this in mind, modifying the actual bathtub for them should be your first step. You should enlist the help of local bathroom suppliers to have a walk-in bath installed -- this features a door to allow for easy access and can also be accompanied by a slip-resistant stool to place in the bath (or shower) for safer bathing. Some walk-in bath varieties can be built with a moulded seat already sculpted into the tub itself to make things even easier when entering and exiting the bath.
If replacing your bath is not an option, you should consider fitting a bath lift device to your existing bathtub. This is a wide belt mechanism that gently lowers you into the bath and out again at the touch of a button. It's worth shopping around to find the most suitable style for your loved one based on their recovery stage and mobility.
In addition to modifying the bathtub, the following changes can also be made to ensure a safer bathing experience:
- Installing safety rails and grab bars around the walls of the bath or shower unit.
- Preventing a slippery floor with non-slip mats and decals where necessary, i.e. inside and outside the bath/shower.
- Making sure an adjustable or handheld shower head is installed so the stream of water is at the right level when he or she is seated.
- Installing anti-scald devices on your shower heads and faucets. These can stop the water flow if the temperature exceeds 50 °C (120 °F) and can also help save money on heating bills.
- Faucet handles in the shower and bath should also be modified for simplicity. Stroke victims find it difficult to regain movement and flexibility in their hands in the early stages, so simple lever-handled faucets will be easier to operate than knobs or wheels that need twisting.
- Also, consider fitting a motion-sensor dispenser to dispense their shampoo or soap while in the shower. Otherwise, try transferring all in-shower toiletries into pump bottles to make things easier.
Using the toilet in a comfortable and dignified manner is also of huge significance to a stroke sufferer. You should therefore have plenty of safety and comfort measures in place to allow them to use the toilet with minimal assistance. This should include things like:
- Placing safety rails over the toilet to support him or her when getting on and off the seat. Depending on where your toilet is positioned in relation to your bathroom, these safety rails can be mounted to the floor beside the toilet or in the form of wall-mounted folding rails. The latter safety bars can be folded out of the way when they're not in use -- making it useful where space is limited such as a smaller downstairs bathroom.
- A raised toilet seat can also make sitting down and getting up easier for your loved one. This can either be fitted by local tradesman or bought from bathroom suppliers to be fitted easily at home.
- Lastly, it can be helpful to keep some pre-moistened flushable wipes in reach beside the toilet. In the early stages of recovery, the pulling action required to use traditional rolls of toilet tissue may be difficult. Flushable wipes simply make it easier for them to clean themselves.
A few well-placed grooming aids can help stroke victims resume a normal bathroom routine. Firstly, if standing at the sink is proving difficult or perhaps even impossible, you could set up a chair beside the sink. Ensure their chair has high arm rails to easily lift in and out of, as well as non-slip rubber pads on the chair legs. These can be purchased cheaply from most hardware stores and can fit most furniture leg sizes.
If he or she uses a wheelchair, you could consider removing a below-sink cabinet, if necessary, to accommodate their legs. If you do this, make sure that any exposed pipes are insulated to avoid burns.
As for cleaning teeth, a cordless electric toothbrush may be a wise purchase as this doesn't require as much hand movement as a regular brush. Also, disposable floss picks are helpful since he or she can floss using their one good hand.