Welcome to Bringing Parents Home. We are here to help you with the transition of bringing your elderly parents into your home.
A resource for caregivers & families

Doorknob vs. lever, the first consideration in safety is the ease of the elderly parent

getting in and out of any room and using a lever vs. knob to open the door is one

small but very important change you can make. It’s easy to change out a doorknob

to a lever, normally only a Phillips screwdriver is the only tool needed. Please refer

to our DIY section for helpful tips – images of the 2 doorknob and lever

A remote door opener is extremely helpful when your parent uses a cane, crutches,

walker or wheel chair is to install. Backing up to open a door is very dangerous. A

remote door opener gives your parent freedom, independence, privacy and safety.

Please refer to our Product review section – images of the 4e door opener

A vanity base bathroom sink makes getting close to the sink for washing and other

care needs a hardship. Image of a wheelchair and vanity Simple access to the sink if

in a wheelchair or walker is very difficult. Removing the vanity and installing a ADA

(American Disability Act) approved sink will allow access to the sink from a wheel

chair or sitting on a walker. Images of Grammy at the sink

From a sitting position it is helpful to tip the vanity mirror forward by as little as 5-

10 degrees. Please review our DIY section for tips on doing this.

On any sink, using a single lever faucet will make turning on the water easy and

selecting the correct temperature safe. Image of a single lever

The new automatic water faucets are a great invention for the bathroom. The cost

can be as low as $50.00 for a faucet adapter to $100.00 and up for a complete auto-

censing faucet. The installation can easily be done by a home handyman. These

faucets will turn on as soon as hands are placed under the faucet. One of the benefits

is that the temperature is pre-set so there is no need for adjusting to keep the

temperature safe. However if your hot water line takes time to get the hot water to

the faucet there will be the usual delay in obtaining warm water. Commercial image

or brief video of the faucet – relationship with vendor

Many times a simple drain plug (with or without a chain) will do a much better job

at holding water than the built in drain plugs. Plus it may be easier to use than the

built in raising rods by the elderly. Plus often times the built in drain plugs systems

will collect hair and other particles causing a slow drain. Images of the two styles,

need a chain on the drain plug

Especially important in the bathroom is the placement of frequent and convenient

handrails. Be careful not to confuse handrails with bath towel rods. Safety is very

important in the bathroom as there is so much activity in such a small space it is

easy to over look the types of activity, the position of handrails to make the activities

safe and easy to stand, sit, get back up, move/spin around without loosing balance.

It’s not aesthetic, but the more handrails the safer. Simply do a walk thru the

bathroom and imagine limited activity and where you would need an extra support

or assistance to sit down, get up and especially move safely in a wet area.

Mounting handrails to be a sturdy and safe support is extremely important. Please

read the included instructions by the handrail manufacturers. You may want to

look at our review of the various types of anchors available in our “how to” section.

We think the larger and fluffier the towels the better. But when you are aging weight

and size of a towel can be a hindrance and a hazard. It’s hard to lift your arms up

and over your head. A heavy towel will use a lot of energy to use. If you have to

steady yourself while standing, you only have one hand to use in drying yourself off.

If you are looking for lightweight quick drying towels consider the lightweight

towels back packers’ use. They are lightweight, absorb a lot of moisture for their

weight and are quick to dry.

A conventional toilet seat can be a dangerous situation. Using an elevated seat with

side railings will provide a convenient and safe situation. Transporting from a

wheelchair will require a seat height that matches the wheelchair. Having

convenient handrails for transferring are critical in maintaining a safe situation.

Another necessity is convenient access to toilet paper. The toilet paper holder needs

to be easy to reach without stretching or bending. Also as the situation may warrant

you will need space for a caregiver to assist with transfers and cleaning.

Bathing can be an especially hazardous situation. There are a number of

considerations to take into consideration in regards to providing a safe and easy to

use environment. Based on the activity level today and what may transpire in

months to come what starts out as an easy to use transfer seat in a conventional tub

may over time evolve into the need for a roll in chair shower situation.

Walk in tubs are very well promoted on the TV but in an assisted living environment

they are difficult to use based on the height of the opening, need of the patient to be

mobile and the length of time it takes to fill and drain. Plus assisting with any

bathing needs it is very difficult for a caregiver to assist in any way.

In most bath situations, direct observation is the best safeguard. However most

patients want privacy in bathing, so it is extremely important to have fall prevention

aids and a fall or safety alarm to signal for help. You can use a wireless doorbell for

an inexpensive call button. Simply inserting it in a plastic bag and hang where it is

easy to reach position is a help to you and your parent.

Kleenex or similar disposable towels are a nice adjunct to normal hand towels.

Another nice to have product are flushable, single use moist towels. Frequently

there may be a need for more hygiene cleaning and using disposable items is more

convenient for both caregiver and patient.

For ambulatory parents constipation is a frequent side effect of the medications

used and plugging the toilet is often a side effect… so it is important to have a good

toilet plunger available and easy to use. One caution is the embarrassment the

parent may feel when/if this happens they will wear themselves out trying to clear

the plugged toilet. Depending on the condition of the parent the energy used to

clear a plugged toilet could cause fatigue and create a very unsafe condition. So

monitoring the parent is required.

Controlling the ambient temperature in a bathroom is more critical than you can

imagine. Due to many of the elderly illnesses, parents can have a difficult time in

regulating their body temperature. They are more aware and affected by drafts and

temperature. Having a heater in a bathroom to warm up the temperature sounds

like a nice idea, but the draft / breeze will actually cool the parent off and create a

much more difficult situation.

Easy and convenient access to toiletries is extremely important in avoiding

hazardous and unsafe conditions. Bending over can be unsafe if there are any

middle ear or balance issues. Additionally not being able to find care products

(medications, face and hand towels, toothbrush, soap, Water pick, etc.) when needed

is stressful and frustrating. If you can install shelving, use upper drawers and towel

bars close to the sink and bathing area it is a lot more convenient and safe.

Additional bathroom items that need to be addressed are easy and safe (stable)

assess to a trashcan and scale for weight checking. In order for convenient and safe

scale use there needs to be stable support for standing but not interfere with

accurate weighing.

There are a number of consumer toilet rails that attaché directly on the existing

toilet using the toilet seat screws. Using toilet rails are very helpful as long as your

parent does not use a wheelchair and or is able to self-transfer. These toilet rails

also have a support that rests on the front of the toilet and in a few months will start

to rust, as they are not totally covered by most toilet seats. Look for the best

construction you can find as a poorly constructed set of rails will feel lose and

unsafe.

In addition to safe and convenient access to a solid toilet paper holder, you may also

need assess to flushable wipes. Flushable wipes are very helpful in cleaning and

feeling clean. Since they are usually in a closed pop up container a shelf or other

horizontal surface within safe and easy reach of the toilet is a must.

Access to water, like a small showerhead or some means of washing away solids

sticking to the body is very helpful as the condition of your parent deteriorates. But

also you will need space to work at the toilet so toilet rails that detach or swing

away are very helpful for situations like this. There are also “Bidet” type retrofit

toilet seats that may be convenient for situations like this.

During cleaning, brushing teeth, and other functions frequently both hands are

needed and it’s really helpful to be able sit at the sink during these activities. Most

often the rolling walkers have a integrated seat but it is necessary to rotate the

walker or the parent 180 degrees… this is a difficult and potentially unsafe situation.

If there is any option to put a sturdy seat in front of the sink or other options make it

safer and easier for your parent.

Lighting in any room and especially the bathroom is helpful in performing tasks.

Controlling odors in the bathroom is also helpful for everyone. A functioning celling

fan is helpful, but again this may induce a breeze. Using small and frequently

changed garbage cans, quickly scrubbing/cleaning soiled surfaces and cleaning the

floor will do a lot to provide a clean / fresh environment. Also using a Baby Diaper

hamper will help to store soiled disposable items in a odor tight and visually

pleasing canister.

Flooring in the bathroom should never involve a rug. The incidence of falls is

greatly increased with any lose flooring material. Cleaning and odor control is

greatly improved with a solid no seamed (vinyl) flooring material. A tile floor needs

to have a high resistance to being slippery when wet. Ceramic tile is rated with a

coefficient of friction (COF) value that indicates, “Slippery when wet”. For safety,

choose tile rated at .50 COF or greater.

Bathrobes, as we discussed in choosing a good towel, in a robe the material and

weight are very important considerations. Weight and absorbency are 2 of the 3

considerations. Equally important is easy on and off with limited mobility.

If you are using a conventional bathtub, you will need to look at a transfer seat or

shower chair. Remember as your parent’s condition changes you will have to create

or modify to have a safe environment. A sturdy seat will be one of the best

investments you can make.

Bathtub railings can appear to be a help, but take a close look at the room/space

they take up in transferring. Make sure to shop for the best fit of both size and

security.

Of special note: If you have the sliding door tub enclosures the bottom rail and solid

½ wall will make it very difficult to use for transferring.

Shower curtains and rods should be carefully chosen. The curtain may in an

emergency be used for support. They may need to be quickly moved. A clear see

thru may help in observing and monitoring for safety. The newer shower curtain

rods that bow out are helpful in creating a more spacious environment within the

tub area, but they do take up extra space in the walking and working area of the

bathroom. A new invention is a bow rod you can flip into the tub area when not in

use, thus giving you back the walkway space.