5 top tips to keep your bathroom a dementia-friendly space

It doesn't take a great deal of imagination to realise that your bathroom can all too easily become a potential disaster zone when you're dealing with the challenges that dementia throws at you.

Something as simple as ​forgetting a  running tap can lead to expensive flooding disasters, shiny, wet surfaces combined with mobility problems can increase the risk of falls, and reflective surfaces have the potential to cause real confusion and anxiety as the dementia takes hold.

That's why its never too early to start planning a few changes.

Acting now can save a lot of heartache and expense later on. Preparing early gives you chance not only to seek the advice of an Occupational therapist, but also provides an opportunity to adjust to any adaptations before you need them.

So here's our top 5 tips to  keep your bathroom safe, helping you stay comfortable in your home for longer.

Banish flooding worries by fitting a sensor
to your taps or plug.

There are various sensors available for taps that will shut off the supply of water if either a pre-set amount of water has been released or you remove your hands from under the tap.
Or, you could try a Magiplug. This is an ingenious little device, widely recommended by Occupational therapists, which contains a pressure sensor that will release water down the plughole if the level gets too deep. It's inexpensive and can easily be fitted to existing baths and washbasins.
Watch this short YouTube clip here to see how it works:

Use grab rails in the shower,
and next to the bath and toilet, to maximum effect.

Fitting grab rails, along with a toilet riser, will not only increase a sense of confidence and security in being able to use the bathroom comfortably and with ease , but will also help eliminate the danger of grabbing hot radiators or unsecure towel rails to steady or pull yourself up.

Increase the amount of light, but try to avoid glare.

A motion sensor that switches on automatically when you enter the room can be a big help, and night lights in the hallway can provide useful help in finding the way to the toilet in the middle of the night. Some night lights come on at dusk and then switch themselves off at dawn. Or try just leaving the bathroom light on all night.

Remove the lock, and re-hinge the bathroom door to make it open outwards.

Taking the lock off has an obvious impact on privacy, but it can provide peace of mind that should a fall happen, help will be able to gain access. Changing the door so it opens outwards instead of inwards can provide valuable extra space for manoeuvring particularly if space is tight.  This can make life much easier and allow for  the use of a walking frame or provision of a seat in the bathroom.

Use contrasting colours to draw attention to important features.

Strong colours stand out so they can be an effective way to draw the eye and provide a useful visual reminder.  A dark coloured toilet seat, toothbrush pot and towels for instance will all stand out nicely against a white bathroom suit and pale walls. Or alternatively, dark walls will make white furniture really stand out.

AT Dementia's website is an excellent source of information on how technology and assistive aids can help you live well with dementia. They have dedicated sections on "Going to the toilet" and "Washing and Bathing" which provide lots of useful advice which is well worth looking at. Click here to access the website http://asksara.dlf.org.uk/

It's amazing the positive impact just a few changes can make so we hope these ideas have been useful. Good luck with the adaptations you choose to make.

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  • 3 June 2015