As Disability Hacks for the Kitchen was so popular I’ve put together another one for the bathroom, Disability Hacks for the Bathroom. This is a list of things that I have found useful over the years. Some were suggested to me by OT while others I have stumbled upon (probably literally!) myself.
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Use a bath or shower seat.
I have both. Originally I had a shower seat put into my ensuite tiny shower. It’s fixed to the wall and can be pulled down for when I need it while the others in the house simply leave it against the wall.
My shower seat is similar to this one with pull out legs so that it feels more secure under my weight.
It is wall mounted and when the seat is pushed upwards towards the wall the legs then fold down and sit flush with the wall.
This is a great idea for a small walk-in shower like mine.
If you have a larger double shower then you have more options. You could opt for a shower seat that is free standing and removable, like this one. These are easier to clean as well as you can remove them to get in the nooks and crannies.
I would definitely recommend that you get one that has non-slip feet as this could be disastrous.
I also like that this model (that I haven’t tried) has side handles to help you stand, especially as the floor will be slippery.
This seat also has adjustable legs for height. My preference would be so that my feet are flat on the floor and no lower as the lower I am the harder it is to get back up again. Just ask my family! 😉
A few years ago I had a massive psoriatic arthritis flare up that badly affected my knee. I wasn’t able to bend or fully straighten it as it was so swollen. I had to have it drained twice. Ouch!
This presented me with a problem that I hadn’t foreseen. I couldn’t use my shower seat as my shower cubicle is a single (tiny) one. When I sat down I couldn’t bend my knee and the only place it could go was out through the side of the shower curtain meaning that I was getting water running onto the shower room floor.
I had to do my best to stand but with fibromyalgia I also have severe heat sensitivity and was prone to fainting in or just after a shower. I always need to rest for about 20 minutes afterwards for my blood pressure to return to normal. I had to choose between water running over the floor or the risk of fainting. It just didn’t work.
Luckily I also have a family bathroom in the house and a bath. I haven’t been able to use the bath for nearly a decade as I can’t get in or out unaided. But, I had a shower put in over the bath and bought a bath seat that fitted across the bath.
This is the bath seat that I have. It has adjustable feet on the underside to fit onto any bath and rubber suckers that stop it from sliding around.
I place the bath seat towards the shower and bring the shower head down to a lower position where I can reach it for a thorough rinse off.
I can get onto the side sideways from standing next to the bath and I then swivel around while lifting my legs over the side of the bath. When I couldn’t bend my knee this worked really well as I had room for it to remain out-stretched in the bath.
I know that bathing can be one of the hardest things to do with a disability and also one of the things that you really want to be able to do independently. I hope that one of these suggestions helps you to maintain that independence. If you have any more recommendations then please leave them in the comments below.
Use a wide handle toothbrush or better still use an electric toothbrush.
If you have problems with your hands and grip then I definitely recommend a wide handled toothbrush. Years ago I even resorted to borrowing my daughter’s toddler toothbrush when a flare hit hard in my hands. Holding my toothbrush and trying to grip it hard enough just became painful.
Sadly I’ve never seen a wide handle toothbrush for adults but they must be available somewhere. If you know then please tell us in the comments.
When my parents found that I was using a toddler toothbrush they bought me an electric toothbrush. Not only do they have a wide handle for easy grip but they rotate meaning that you don’t have to move your arm so much to get a good clean brush. Magic!
I have the Oral B electric toothbrush (but mine is blue).
It’s got a good solid handle for easy grip and mine came with a couple of toothbrush heads and is rechargeable from a UK shaving socket.
You can also get battery operated ones that might be a good idea if you like to travel and can’t be sure that there is a useable plug at your destination.
The brush heads can be quite expensive but they are often on offer in the supermarkets. I buy them then. The other thing I have done is buy the children’s brush heads. They are the same size but have cartoon characters on them. If you don’t mind that you can buy them cheaper. I think it’s because there’s no VAT on children’s hygiene products but I’m not sure. But even so, they do last a long time. The blue colour gradually fades indicating when they need to be changed and it isn’t as often as with a manual brush. The brush will stop if you press too hard on your teeth so this is most likely why the brushes last longer. I think it’s a great investment.
One final tip for those who feel they make a mess with the toothbrush. A friend recommended to me once that I simply brush my teeth while in the shower as all the mess is washed away for me. And who cares where you brush your teeth! When my daughter was little I used to get her to practise the brushing action while she was sat in the bath! Now she also uses the electric toothbrush but has her own brush head with Frozen characters on it! That’s how I found they were cheaper! 😉
Use a raised toilet seat
I can’t recommend this enough. You might be able to get one through OT but if not they are very reasonably priced. If you find it hard to stand from a sitting position then this can make such a difference to you. Even hubby likes it as he’s 6’4″ and has very long legs!
This raised toilet seat comes in 3 different heights, 2″, 4″ or 6″. I am 5’6″ tall and I find the 2″ toilet seat to be about the right height. If you are taller then you might want to try a higher seat again. I know, I’m short!
The other feature of this one, which isn’t standard, is that it has a lid. Mine don’t (I have 2) and I wish that I had got ones with a lid now.
My mum also uses a raised toilet seat and hers is really plush. Not only does it have a lid but also a padded toilet seat! Now that’s luxury! If you click this photo link then I’m sure you’ll be able to find the plush versions from there.
These seats fit over the toilet and have screws that tighten both sides to ensure a snug and safe fit.
Attach handles where needed to aid standing
I know seeing handles around the house makes you feel disabled. I know these things make it look like an old person’s home but I gave in and you know what? I’m thankful that I did. I had help from OT with supply and fitting but you don’t get to choose what will look right in your home then. Also handles are cheap enough that you can find a pleasant looking one.
I have one in the bathroom to help me get out of the bath (even though I think I’d need more like a hoist these days). I also have one in the downstairs toilet to help me to stand from the toilet. For years I had been pulling myself up but holding onto the sink in front of me. But…I managed to not only pull the sink off the wall but also pulled the toilet away from the wall fittings, twice! While washing my hands my feet were getting wet where I had flushed the toilet and it had come away from the wall and flooded the toilet. Thank goodness it was downstairs!
If, like me, you don’t like the look of the handles then you can get ones that are fitted by suction. Mine are screwed through the tiles and permanent. The suction ones can be taken down when you don’t need them or moved around if you find your needs are elsewhere. This set of handles looks better than the hospital kind and are removable.
My concern about the suction type of handle was if it was strong enough for it’s purpose. Recently my father-in-law bought some and he assured me that they are great. He even found them to be better as he moved his to a higher position where they worked better for him and didn’t leave any holes in the wall where they might have been screwed in.
Do you have any experience with the suction hold handles? Are they any good? Comments below please.
Try automatic soap dispensers.
I use to think that automatic soap dispensers were nothing more than a gimmick. The adverts are all about hygiene and I think that’s stupid because you are touching the soap bottle BEFORE you wash your hands anyway!
But! And here’s a big but! When I lost use of my hands for several months with a nasty flare I found the pump bottles were hard work and often would clog up needing a bit of fiddling. That’s hard work when you have bad hands. I wish that I had known about automatic soap dispensers then. It would have been so much easier. I now have them in the kitchen and bathrooms. I even fill them with cheap soap and they still look posh! Don’t tell. 😉
I like this automatic soap dispenser. It looks really posh, especially if you have chrome taps! But it’s a really good price. You can get cheaper ones and far more expensive ones but this is the one I feel is a good balance. The others can be found through this link as well.
Mine are black but I wish I had seen them in chrome first.
These are battery operated. Oh, and I should say, don’t let them completely run out of soap as it can be a pain to get the air out of the system.
Have a non-slip mat for getting out of the bath or shower
Please don’t try to step out onto a smooth floor with wet feet, especially if you are unsteady. I can tell you that it’s really embarrassing to have the paramedics have to attend to you in the bathroom. Not from a fall in my case but still embarrassing. True story.
I have these lovely non-slip memory foam mats in my bathrooms. Hubby even used them on his boat! The underside has really good grip and the top is really soft and lovely to stand one even if your feet are sore. Memory foam is my best friend. The saying in this house is ‘Home, Sweet Memory Foam!’ My mats, mattress and slippers are all memory foam. Anyway, I digress…
I have these mats in white but they are available in several colours to match your decor.
I should add as well that they wash really well in the washing machine at 40 degrees. I’ve washed mine many, many times!
Add Epsom salts to your bath to soothe your muscles and reduce pain
I though that this was a myth for many years until I started adding them to my daughter’s bath (without her knowing) as she suffers awful with leg pains at night. I was stunned when she improved with the Epsom salts. I’ve since looked into it more closely and found that magnesium is absorbed really well through the skin and helps with muscle pain. I have a post about it for more details, The Role of Magnesium in Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune Disease.
Use a bath pillow to support your neck while relaxing in the bath
If you are still able to get in and out of the bath then you really want to make the most of it. Lots of bubbles, candles, soothing music, your favourite drink (wine or tea), a snack, such as chocolate (not ice-cream!) and your bath pillow.
My daughter has a bath pillow and loves it. She is suspected to have fibromyalgia after a trauma at a very young age so she suffers with sore trigger points and can’t get comfortable easily. Nanny (my mum) bought her a bath pillow and now she loves her bath. She will soak there until it’s too cold. I have to call her out now so that she doesn’t get too cold!
A bath pillow is so simple yet can help you relax so much. I think we should all put it on our Christmas list and tell Santa that we’ve been good. Follow this link to check out what there is.
This is one that I’ve found. It looks like ours but it’s memory foam! Doesn’t that sound amazing!
So here we have some suggestions for helping you (us) in the bathroom. I hope that you find something useful here and please feel free to share it if you think someone could benefit.
Anything that can save us spoons (energy) has to be a good thing as then we have more left over to do fun things or for others.
Please leave your comments below and add anything else that you have found to help. I know I’ll be interested and I’m such that others will be too.
Love and spoons to you all,