Staying Safe in the Bathroom
Caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will want to ensure that their loved one can use the bathroom safely to avoid injury. As the individual’s abilities change as their dementia progresses, it’s important to remain flexible and creative and make changes in the bathroom to keep them comfortable and safe.
These tips from the National Institute on Aging will help ensure a dementia-friendly bathroom:
- Remove the lock from the bathroom door to prevent your loved one from being locked inside.
- Use nonskid adhesive strips, decals or mats in the tub or shower, and place these strips next to the tub, toilet and sink if the bathroom has a tile or linoleum floor to prevent slipping.
- Use a raised toilet seat with handles or install grab bars next to the toilet.
- Install grab bars in the shower. A grab bar next to the sink is helpful if the person is unsteady on their feet.
- Use foam rubber faucet covers in the shower or tub to prevent injury if the person falls.
- To make bathing easier, install a shower stool and a hand-held showerhead.
- Insert drain stops in sinks to prevent small items like rings from being lost down the drain.
- Label faucets hot and cold.
- To avoid scalding water, set the water heater at 120 degrees.
- Store all medications in a locked closet. Likewise, keep cleaning products locked in a cabinet or remove them from the bathroom.
- Monitor the use of items like shampoo, toothpaste, body lotions and aftershave lotion to ensure they are not being used inappropriately. If this is a problem, store in a locked cabinet.
- Use a nightlight in the bathroom.
- Men should use a rechargeable razor, rather than one with an electrical cord.
* Keep the trash receptacle in the cabinet under the sink, so that it isn’t mistaken for the toilet.
- Toilet target aids are useful for older men with dementia and/or low vision when it can be tough for them to use the toilet bowl accurately. Toilet aiming decals are applied in the toilet bowl to help them see where to aim.
- Keep the floor uncluttered; remove scatter rugs to avoid injury from slipping and falling.
To keep the bathroom from looking institutional once safety devices like grab bars and a raised toilet seat are installed, add homey touches like artwork on the walls, cheery curtains at the window and a colorful shower curtain.
Mary Bates, MS, CT, is a Certified Dementia Practitioner. She is the Assisted Living and Memory Care Director of Summit by Morrison, a senior living community offering independent living, assisted living, memory care, and respite care.
Through this column, Mary will share the experience, knowledge, and resources she and her team rely on, anticipating that it will be useful for anyone living with, caring for, or coming into contact with a person with dementia. Send your questions to Understanding Dementia at Summit, 56 Summit Drive, Whitefield, NH 03598 or email email@example.com. Mary will share information and answer as many questions as possible through this column. Learn more about Summit by Morrison at www.themorrisoncommunities.org.