The most common room that needs to be modified is, you guessed it, the bathroom. Bathrooms are tricky because 1. everyone needs them, 2. privacy is a big issue, 3. there’s water involved (water means slippery and slippery means falling and falling means, well, nothing good!)
When Mo and I were active caregivers we both had to deal with a lot of the others, um, body waste. We literally had to put up with the each others s***. Talk about developing a new level of intimacy! That is of course the extreme. What most people need to modify their bathrooms is assistive gadgets and modified facilities/fixtures.
Let’s start with the king of all problem areas, the porcelain throne. Getting on/off the toilet when you have myositis is sometimes difficult and sometimes impossible because of the weakness and damage to inflammed muscles. Myositis causes muscle proteins to leak and muscles start to break down, so weakness and fatigue are incredibly common. Add insult to injury; the major muscle groups like the thighs, shoulders, and buttocks are usually the first ones to go.
Grab bars and raised toilets/toilet seats are definitely your first line of defense. Raising the toilet seat 5-6″ allows you to sort of tip yourself into a seated or standing position instead of the usual squat. Mo used the model above for a temporary modification (there are also elevated toilet seats that are permanently raised, click here, here, or here for examples). We found the arms on the raised seat helped immensely for support and safety (although they are fixed and if you are wider in the hips, *ahem* like me, those aren’t going to work for you). Click here to purchase this raised seat on Amazon, they run about $38 with free shipping. Buying these at local stores like Walmart or medical supply companies you’re looking at $50-$80, God bless Amazon!
When it comes to grab bars there are a TON of different options for need, style, length, material, etc. Type “grab bar” into Google or any search engine and you will be amazed with the variety! Grab bars can be mounted anywhere there is a stud, DON’T EVEN THINK about a grab bar that uses suction (I mean really, who cares if you put a hole in your wall or tile to mount a safety device, your safety is more important!!!). Some grab bars are sneaky, look at this one disguised as a towel bar! Click here to purchase.
Showers and tubs are the next big hurdle, pun intended, when it comes to remodeling your bathroom. There are basically two thoughts on this; 1. modify the tub basin to something like a walk-in (below) VS. 2. remove the tub basin completely to make a barrier-free shower (below).
I am definitely Team Barrier-Free, and here’s why:
- The walk-in tub seems like a really relaxing and smart idea, until you think about sitting in the tub naked as the tub fills up with water, and then sitting in the tub naked and wet as the tub empties. Brrrr! and No, Thanks!
- The walk-in tub assumes you don’t/won’t need transfer assistance. Caregivers can accidentally cause all sorts of injuries if they have to lift or catch you without enough room around themselves or you.
- If you are going to go through the cost and construction of a bathroom remodel you want to do it once. Go all the way.
- Barrier-free looks more spa-like, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a spa???
Lastly, if you do need transfer help and want to use your existing tub/shower fixtures then here are some gadgets for you.