So how does a pleasurable shower become a burden for physically impaired people and their caregivers?
Shower Angst for Seniors
Let’s suppose you’re caring for an elderly woman, Mildred, who has rheumatoid arthritis. Her knees are swollen, toes are gnarled, and her joints don’t cooperate when she wants to move. Pain and stiffness make her unstable. While she used to step into a shower with ease, she now makes that move with trepidation. Mildred has slipped on the wet floor in the past. She didn’t tell anyone, but she ended up a little bruised—physically and emotionally. She has friends who have been whisked off to an assisted living center after such an episode, and to Mildred, that’s a scary prospect.
Maybe you’re ready to help Mildred take a shower. This alleviates some of Mildred’s fears, but brings up another anxiety--giving up her privacy. She finds it demeaning not only to remove her clothes publicly, but also to let you clean her most intimate areas.
You, the caregiver, want to help. That’s just who you are. But when it comes down to it, you have some concerns too. (At least you should!) First, when you transfer Mildred into the shower, you have to do everything perfectly to avoid the risk of back injury: use your legs as levers, keep Mildred close to you, balance with your feet apart, turn your whole body when needed, and wear comfy, non-slip shoes. To add discomfort to danger, inevitably, when you transfer Mildred back out of the shower, you end up soaking wet yourself.
A Solution for Seniors and their Caregivers: The Shower Chair
The shower wheelchair is a perfect solution for seniors and their caregivers. It’s a wheelchair that’s usually made out of plastic and rust-proof metal, with a waterproof backrest and seat. It’s designed to wheel in and out of a barrier free, roll-in shower without sustaining any water damage.
Features of the shower wheelchair include:
• The seat. Most shower-wheelchair seats resemble a toilet seat. Because this provides easy access to Mildred’s private parts, she may be able remain independent and cleanse herself.
• Removable commode pan. Add this feature and the shower-wheelchair can double as a bedside commode chair.
• Rigid or folding. If space is a constraint, you might want to consider a folding shower wheelchair. Use it when you need it, stow it when you don’t.
• Adjustability. Many designs are available with adjustable seats and foot rests. Adjustable and swing-away arm rests are also offered. Back-tilt chairs can allow more maneuverability. After all, Mildred’s in the shower to clean up, so she wants to be comfortable and have easy access to as much of her body as possible--all while not compromising her safety.
• Size it up before you buy. Shower wheelchairs come in a variety of sizes just like people. Make sure you the one you buy is the right size for the person you’re caring for, and fits easily into the shower.
Shower wheelchairs provide independence for the physically challenged, they make life easier for the caregiver, and they make all-important hygiene much simpler. That’s why the shower wheelchair on my list of the ‘Top Products for a Long Life at Home.’
Bye for now….George Flowers
What experiences have you had with shower wheelchairs?
What problems have you had transferring a physically-challenged person into the shower?
Let me know your ideas. What products do you want to see added to the “Top Products to Make a Long Life at Home Easier” list?