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Some of my greatest memories as a child are with my grandfather. I remember we would pack a little picnic and walk to a park that was close to his house to eat it. The picnic usually consisted of sardines, crackers, and some fruit. I know you’re thinking, “Really? Sardines?” Yes, I was a strange kid. Now that my grandfather lives with me, we still have a stock of sardines in the pantry. You know, for whenever we need a B12 boost. Ha! Which is always because who doesn’t need more energy!?
A little over two years ago, my family and I moved across the country to be with my grandfather. He’s still very self-reliant and can do most things for himself, but he requires some of the maintenance that comes along with the glory years. I like to shop at my local Sam’s Club for my caregiving needs. Being a member has allowed me to get exclusive benefits. They offer prescriptions, health screenings, vaccines, and carry disposable underwear for those uh-oh moments.
Members Mark products are premium quality at a great value. While he does not wear these on a regular basis they are great to have in the linen closet during times of sickness. They offer great protection while not irritating the skin. It gives him one less thing to worry when he’s under the weather!
During the time we’ve lived together, I’ve learned a lot about bathroom safety for senior citizens. Did you know 1 in 3 seniors over age 65 fall every single year with 80% of these falls being in the bathroom? My grandfather turned 90 years old earlier this year so bathroom safety is of the utmost importance especially since he is pretty self-reliant.
Large Doorways and Bathroom Width
As we age, balance becomes an issue. To be on the safe side, my grandfather has a walker he uses around the house when he’s feeling bad or just because. This thing isn’t overly huge but it has some bulk to it which means it’s hard to get into tight spaces. Fitting this sucker into a typical 4 piece bathroom with a shower tub combo would be a challenge. Luckily, he has a double door entry into his wide bathroom. He has plenty of space to maneuver the walker around without gashing holes in the wall.
Easy Shower Access
At the previous house we lived at with my grandfather, his bathroom had a typical shower-tub combo. As time went on, he became concerned about being able to lift his legs over the sides of the tub without falling. A height of 13 inches or so might seem like nothing when you are 30 but 90 is a different story. It became sort of a dangerous balancing act for him so when we moved easy shower access was a must. We opted for a walk-in shower. Now that’s something he can handle!
As we all know, showers and bathtubs can be dangerous. Water combined with slick surfaces is just asking for accidents to happen. If you have a fiberglass shower and/or tub, non-slip shower treads are a great thing to install. They help prevent slips and are super easy to install.
If you have a stone tile shower like we do, these stick-on treads will not work. We learned this the hard way. Thankfully, he didn’t fall, but he could have, which is scary. Turns out sticker treads are only meant for smooth surfaces so these babies practically came up as easily as they went on. Same goes for shower mats and anything with suction cups. A complete no go for stone tile showers!
I suggest using an anti-slip floor treatment for stone tile showers. This treatment permanently improves traction just by pouring it on and rinsing off. You can repeat it if you need more traction. It works well and doesn’t change the appearance of the tile!
Shower Grab Bars
No matter how non-slip your shower and tub floors are, accidents still happen. What if your loved one becomes light-headed or dizzy? Having something they can securely grab is essential. We installed 4 grab bars, one for each wall of his shower. These are drilled directly into the tile and can fully support his weight (and more so). Much safer than the suction cup variety that we can’t even use.
Let’s face it, as we age our energy levels go down. I know mine has. Throw in a hot, relaxing shower that is exhausting at the same time and some sitting may be required. Or perhaps, they are just feeling weak. Either way, a shower bench or a built-in seat is great to have. This way they can get clean AND sit. The best of both worlds!
Combination Shower Head System
One of the times my grandfather was in the hospital we noticed how their showers had two heads. One head was fixed but the other was removable and on an adjustable slide bar so that when you are sitting you can get sprayed up close and personal. It was nice and very convenient for when you have to sit in the shower. Guess what? We installed one of these babies at home too. It’s been a game changer.
Toilet Safety Rail
Another trick we learned from the hospital was toilet safety. Getting up from a seated position can take work when you are older. Having something that you can grab to pull yourself up comes in handy. I didn’t want to install grab bars in the walls so I found a handy standalone safety rail. It does the trick and even comes with a magazine rack.
Be sure to visit the Sam’s Club Family Caregiving website for your caregiving needs!
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.