This blog began as a journal of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Award visit to the USA to study how Lifestyle Redesign could be used in Occupational Therapy to improve the hospital/home interface for older people. It has continued to record developments and inspiration gained from that experience since returning from Los Angeles early in 2012.

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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Bathing Beautifully....


Bathing beautifully…



There is something horribly undignified about the idea of getting stuck in the bath- and in fact it can be serious if you really can’t get out and there is no-one to summon for help. Best to avoid this happening in the first place by thinking ahead.

Having a bath is a luxury lots of people don’t want to do without. It’s so relaxing and soothing for aches and pains. The process of getting in and out has a few danger points-
  • Slipping and losing your footing.
  • Teetering on one foot at a time while stepping over the side of the bath.
  • Lowering down from standing to sitting in the bottom of the bath… and then getting back up.

Slipping is less likely using a non-slip mat, but wash and rinse it regularly or soapy residue will make it slippery too! Also, try to avoid bath oils as they make for a very slippery surface.
The teetering on one foot can be avoided by using a bath seat that allows you to sit your bottom down first (thus getting your centre of gravity safely landed) then swing your legs over the side. Or have a grab rail fitted on the wall to hold onto.
The getting up and down can be solved by sitting up on a seat placed in or over the bath so you are not right in the bottom of the bath. However this is not always popular as you don’t get to lie flat out in the bath. The height of luxury may be a powered bath lift or even a ‘walk-in’ bath- both cost a bit (or a lot) of money but might be worth it if you love your bath.

A shower could be the answer, but if it is over the bath you still have the stepping in and out issue to think about, and slipping…

The better your balance and the stronger your muscles, especially in your legs, the longer you will feel confident to get in and out of the bath, so keep up the exercise as much as possible. It can be a good idea to have your bath when someone else is around in the house.

Many people actually decide that they are happy just to have a strip wash and not worry about using the bath or shower. If you are a younger friend or relative worrying about someone not having a bath or shower, so long as they are managing to keep clean and are happy with this, don’t forget the generation who are in their 70s, 80s and above probably didn’t grow up with the idea that having a bath or shower daily was essential, in fact many grew up in homes with no inside bath and maybe no hot water, so it may be that ideas of what is essential differ between the generations!

If bathing is becoming a struggle, don’t wait for a disaster- plan ahead and ask your Occupational Therapist for advice.

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