There are many different pieces of equipment and assistive devices out there that can be used to make bathing in the shower easier for Mom or Dad. So what's what? Here we will explain a little bit more about common bathing equipment and in what circumstances they might be helpful - so that you can determine what's appropriate for your loved one.
This is probably the most commonly used piece of bathing equipment out there. Shower chairs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and can be used if you have concerns about Mom or Dad’s balance, or if they get easily fatigued or short of breath from standing for extended periods of time. Consider a chair with adjustable legs if your loved one is tall, or one with arms if they have difficulty getting up from a seated position. If balance is a concern and your loved one has a tub shower rather than a walk-in shower, consider purchasing a tub bench instead (see below).
Tub benches are used in place of a shower chair if your loved one has difficulty or balance concerns with stepping over the side of a tub. It might be difficult to picture, but two legs of the bench sit inside of the tub and two legs sit outside of the tub. This way your Mom or Dad just has to sit on the edge of the bench and then slide on in. Tub benches typically will not fit tubs with glass doors, so you may have to consider removing glass doors and putting up a curtain instead.
A rubber non-slip mat can be placed inside the tub or shower to get rid of slippery surfaces and reduce risk of falls. After all, falls are most likely to occur in the bathroom, so this is an important consideration if your loved one has balance issues.
Suction-cup Grab Bars
Please, DO NOT purchase these! I know it's tempting because they seem like a quick fix, but in our opinion they do more harm than good. First off, your shower walls must be completely flat and slick without any texture; they really do not work on most tiled surfaces. Even if you can get the bars to stick, before each use they must be readjusted EVERY time to make sure they are stuck on right. We find them to be a huge safety risk so please do not waste your time or money on them.
Standard Grab Bars
As opposed to the suction-cup grab bars, we do recommend the kind of grab bar that you drill into the wall. These are great if your loved one has balance concerns or needs something to hold onto when getting up from a shower chair or tub bench. See our posts on “Everything you need to know about grab bars” for more info.
This is sort of a clamp-on grab bar that goes on the side of the tub. It's a great solution for getting a grab bar in the shower without having to drill any holes, and is definitely sturdy. This is best for someone who is stepping over the side of the tub and needs something to hold on to.
Hand-held Shower Head
These are great for someone who is going to be sitting on a shower chair or tub bench while they bathe, otherwise the water will be hitting your loved one in the face while they sit there and that's no fun. You may already have one in your shower - if not they are very easy to install.
There is also loofah on a stick or back scrubber, which are very similar and serve the same purpose. This is great for your loved one to wash their feet and lower legs without having to bend over and risk falling if balance is an issue. Using this device also conserves energy if your loved one gets easily fatigued or short of breath.
We hope that you found this post about bathing equipment helpful in finding the best solutions for your Mom or Dad. By making some modifications to the bathroom and the way your loved one bathes, they may have increased independence with self-care tasks and a decreased need to rely on you or other caregivers. This will in turn reduce caregiver stress and make you feel more confident in managing Mom or Dad’s care!