Growing Old Gracefully: Bathroom Tricks To Help Your Parents Keep Their Dignity

When we’re young, our parents do everything for us. They are the supports on which we lean. Which is why it can be confusing for everyone when the tables turn. Inevitably, we all end up caring for our parents at some stage. Sadly, that is the circle of life. But, when the time comes, it can be challenging to strike the right balance. You’ll want to offer the best care possible, without imposing or taking your parents freedom. Thus, you may find that you’re treading on eggshells, or failing to provide the care they need.

To help everyone move forward, it’s worth having a conversation about the part your parents would like you to play. They may try to hold onto their independence for as long as possible, and there’s nothing you can do about that. Or, they may accept that they need help, but express a desire to keep their dignity. If this is the case, it’s important to consider how you can provide dignified care, specifically when it comes to the bathroom. And, to help you settle on a plan which works, we’re going to consider some of your options.

A bathtub for ease

The most substantial issue to consider is that of bathing. When mobility starts to fail, your parents will find it difficult to get in and out of the bathtub. They may even do themselves an injury by trying it. But, they may be reluctant to let you lift them in and out. It would involve exposure that they may not be comfortable with.

So, find a compromise. By helping your parents choose a tub which opens at the side, you can ensure they can get in and out without worry. An option with a seat included would even allow you to rest easy that they can remain in an upright position. Or, if their mobility isn’t that bad yet, you may want to browse modern bathtubs which are freestanding. Options like these often dip in the middle, making them easier to get into. Plus, their freestanding nature will allow you ease of access once they’re already in the water. That way, you can help them wash, then leave them to it.

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Installed rails

It’s also worth installing grab rails in showers, and around the toilet. These will prove a huge support, and will mean that your parents can hold themselves up. Thus, you won’t need to lift them onto the toilet and so on. Again, these will go a massive way towards helping your parents keep their dignity. Often, toilet issues are the most embarrassing of all. Dealing with them in this way could be the best of both worlds.

Urinal in Hong-Kong on the Lung Fu Shai Fitness Trail, with handles for the elderly.

Wikimedia Image

An alarm by the toilet

Bear in mind, though, that an alarm chord by the toilet could be a huge help in ensuring your parents safety. That way, you can be on hand if they do need you for any reason. Without this, there’s a risk they’ll be stuck on the toilet for extended periods, which would undo your efforts at modesty. The chances are that they’ll never need to use it. But, it’s not worth the risk. When you know it’s there, you can rest easy. And, though they may not say it, your parents will also feel much better for its presence.

A sink with a seat

Standing by the sink could also become a real challenge for your parent’s. Even brushing their teeth for two minutes could prove too much. So, it’s worth getting a seat installed near their sink. If possible, you could have one built into the same cabinet that their sink is on. This will look like part of the decor and means they can have a quick sit down if they’re struggling.

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Or, you could carve a space underneath the sink, and slip a chair there, instead. To guests, this will look like a vanity-style sink setup. But, it could be a real dignity saver for your parents. Plus, this option has the benefit of allowing them to sit while they do what they need to.

A final word

As you can see, there are any number of ways to help your parents keep their bathroom dignity. While there may come a time when you’ll need to take a more active role, these steps will ensure that time is a long way off. Of course, you’ll need to check with your parents before putting anything in place. But, once you’ve explained, they’re sure to be on board.

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