Bathing equipment to suit your needs
The ability to wash yourself independently is one of the core elements of daily life that you may be especially keen to hold on to as you get older. Although young people today are more likely to have a daily shower than a daily bath, many people over 60 still use a bath to wash on a regular basis. On top of this, a soak in the tub can be a great form of relaxation.
Yet, sadly, bathing may often be the first area of your physical life to become challenging. To get into and out of a bath, you have to be fairly agile and have good arm strength – a fact that younger people tend to take for granted. In reality, some older people come to terms with this fact only after having a fall while trying to get into or out of a bath.
For more safety tips, find out 8 ways older people can stay safer at home
Consulting an occupational therapist
If you struggle to get into and out of the bath, but still enjoy a good soak, it may help to consider adaptations to your bathroom. Your bathing experience is completely specific to you, so it’s not always easy to make general assumptions about the best types of equipment. It can also be difficult to judge your needs and abilities objectively, so expert guidance is important when it comes to choosing bath aids.
While adapting your bathroom doesn’t have to be especially complicated, it’s a good idea to get advice from a registered occupational therapist (OT) before – and during – the planning. An assessment will help to pinpoint your needs and find out which equipment will be best for you. To find out more, see our guide on getting an assessment for equipment needs.
An assessment will help to pinpoint your needs and find out which equipment will be best for you.
Different types of baths and showers
If a conventional bath or shower are no longer suitable, there are several types of baths and showers to choose from when adapting a bathroom to suit your needs. These include walk-in baths, baths with a built-in seat, shallow baths and walk-in showers. A wet-floor area or a wet room are also a good option if space is limited.
Discover your options and other ways to adapt a bathroom, including adapting the toilet, in our article on bathroom adaptations.
Trying out bath aids before you buy
Most mobility shops and Disabled Living Centres (DLCs) have bathing equipment you can try before buying (you can find a directory of local DLCs on the Focus on Disability website). Many also offer to bring equipment to your home for you to test.
It’s also possible to hire bath aids from mobility centres. As when buying equipment, it’s best to look for suppliers that are members of the British Health Trades Association (BHTA).
Safety considerations when adapting a bathroom
You may need to fit a shower as an alternative to a bath and ensure that there is also safe access to the toilet from a wheelchair. All bathroom facilities will need to be accessible from a seated position and, if there are other people who are also going to use the bathroom, you should ensure that it accommodates everyone’s needs.
It may also be useful to fit certain telecare products, such as flood detectors or fall monitors, to support your safety in the bathroom.
Financial assistance for bath aids and bathroom adaptations
Equipment, such as bath boards and seats, is sometimes provided free of charge by local authorities. Your local OT should be able to advise, or alternatively you can contact your local social services department.
If you have a chronic illness or other form of disability that prevents you from easily getting into and out of the bath, you may also be eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to cover bathroom adaptations. Read our guide on financing home adaptations to find out more.
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