Having a stroke can leave an older adult with limited abilities. They may also be at greater risk for suffering a fall. When your aging relative comes home from the hospital after having a stroke, it’s important to find ways to make their home accessible and safe for them.
One of the rooms that can be particularly difficult and dangerous is the bathroom. If the older adult isn’t able to use the bathroom to bathe and toilet, they won’t be able to continue living comfortably in their own home.
Below are some ways to modify the bathroom to be usable for a stroke survivor.
Adjust the Doorway
If the senior is in a wheelchair or uses a walker, the doorway of the bathroom may need to be wider for them to get through. Typical bathroom doors are about 24 inches wide. Two inches of that may not be usable because of the door being in the way. Walkers are between 18 and 25 inches wide and wheelchairs are 24 to 30 inches wide. You may be able to gain enough space by changing the hinges on the door to “swing clear” hinges that allow the door to open side enough to keep it out of the way. However, you may have to have the doorway rebuilt.
Make it Bigger
If the house is older, there may not be enough room in the bathroom to maneuver a wheelchair or even a walker. If possible, have the bathroom remodeled to make it larger and more accessible. You may also be able to simply install a handrail that runs the length of the bathroom for the senior to hold if they use a walker. Another option is to place a bedside commode in the senior’s bedroom to give them a place to toilet in privacy that is also wheelchair accessible. For bathing, you may be able to use a smaller transfer wheelchair to get the senior into the bathroom and on to a shower chair or bench.
Change Doorknobs and Faucets
Round doorknobs can be hard for older adults to turn if their hands are weakened by stroke. Change them to door handles that can be turned using any part of the hand. The same goes for faucets. Replace turn knobs to handles that can be pushed on using a fist or the arm.
Have Elderly Care Assist
Elderly care can also help your aging relative to safely use the bathroom. An elderly care provider can get the senior into a transfer chair that fits into the bathroom and help them to get on the toilet without falling. Elderly care providers can also help with bathing and showering, assisting the senior to wash if they need help and making sure they remain safe.