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How To Improve The Bathing Experience For Someone With Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition marked by tremor, muscular rigidity and slow imprecise movement. Understandably this leads to normal day-to-day tasks becoming difficult, including use of the bathroom.

By implementing a few simple changes, you can help make a huge difference to someone with Parkinson’s disease being able to use the bathroom safely and with ease.

  • Decant liquid soap and shampoo into pump dispensers. They can be easier to use than a bar of soap which needs to be gripped tightly and easier than flicking the lid off a bottle or unscrewing a cap.
  • Lay down an anti-slip mat in the bathtub to prevent slips or falls and place a shower stool in the shower to provide a stable platform to sit on. A seat with handrails will offer additional support when standing or sitting. Ensure the shower tray is strong enough to support the shower stool or seat as some flimsy shower trays have been known to break under the weight.
  • Cover or remove sharp edges. The risk of falling can be higher for a person with Parkinson’s so care should be taken to avoid sharp edges in the bathroom as well as the rest of the house. It may be necessary to remove and replace the object with the sharp edge, or cover the sharp edge with padding of some sort.
  • Install grab rails to provide firm hand holds around the bathroom. Place them around the bath or shower in places where the person will be entering and exiting the bath or shower. Never use taps or sinks as handholds as they are not designed for this purpose and may come loose over time.
  • Place storage shelves between shoulder and knee height so the person does not have to bend or stretch too far to reach the items. The exact position will depend on the preference of the person using the bathroom.
  • Replace manual grooming items with electric alternatives such as an electric toothbrush, electric razor and a free standing hair dryer. To make drying after a bath or shower easier consider an electric body dryer.
  • Place a free standing frame or support rails around the toilet to make using the toilet easier. This will provide support when sitting or standing. A Toilet Riser will make getting on and off the toilet even easier as it works like a rise/recline chair. Alternatively a Bio Bidet will eliminate the need for toilet paper as it provides a wash and blow dry and eliminates the need to use toilet paper. For an all in one solution Closomat and Gerberit toilets might be considered but are more expensive options.
  • Remove door knobs and replace with pull handles. The tremors associated with Parkinson’s make operating a door handle difficult and it is wise to replace them throughout the house. The bathroom bolt or lock should also be removed so that the room can be accessed easily in an emergency.

Whilst small and simple adaptations may resolve initial difficulties, the progressive nature of Parkinson’s means that more substantial changes in the bathroom will eventually be required. At this time, accessible bathing experts like Absolute Mobility can help design and install a bathroom that has been specially adapted for people with reduced mobility caused by the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.  This might involve installing a level access shower or adapting the bathroom into a wet room to improve accessibility, safety and ease of use.

Should you wish to discuss this kind of change to your bathroom,and what is involved, please feel free to speak to one of our advisers on 01491 411 041.

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