Living independently for as long as possible is a primary goal for most senior citizens. But simple tasks such as taking a shower can become more challenging as we age because of balance issues and the risk of falling in the shower.
Mobility devices like walkers can help with stability and movement. Most people who use a walker have a problem with their balance due to a stroke, age-related mobility limitation such as arthritis or osteoarthritis, or neurological impairments that affect cognitive functioning such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Other reasons to use a walker include having an injury to your back, hip, leg, or foot.
The CDC says that one out of four elderly seniors 65 and over experience an accidental fall each year, and by 2030, there will be seven deaths from accidental falls every hour. Mostly all of these falls happen in the bathroom.
So, should you use a walker in the shower?
The safest answer to this question is, “NO! Unless the walker is made specifically for use inside a shower.
But there are ways you can use a walker to help you get into the shower or bathtub.
How To Use A Walker In The Shower
Bathroom safety should always be the top priority. Safety should be even more critical if you use a mobility walker. When using your walker to shower, make sure the floor is completely dry before you enter the bathroom. Place a non-slip floor mat directly in front of the shower. If your shower is a bathtub/shower combination, place the non-slip floor mat in front of the tub. Once you complete this very important step, make sure you have a shower stool or shower chair in your shower or bathtub with the four suction cup feet securely attached to the shower or tub floor.
To use your walker to get into the shower:
- Turn your walker away from the shower and while holding the walker, back up slowly until you are close enough to the shower stool to touch it.
- With one hand, reach back until you can touch the shower stool.
- Remove the other hand to rest on the other end of the shower stool and slowly lower yourself down until you’re in a seated position.
- Push the walker away from the shower, but not too far that you can’t reach it after you’re done.
- Position yourself in the center of the shower stool, facing the showerhead. Lift one leg over the step, then the other, and begin bathing.
- Reverse this process when done.
To use your walker to get into a bathtub with a transfer bench
- Make sure your transfer bench has two legs inside the tub and two legs on the outside of the tub. Please note: when sitting on the transfer bench, make sure you are facing the facet.
- Turn your walker so that your back is to the area of the transfer bench outside the tub.
- Slowly walk back towards the bench until the back of your legs touches the bench.
- With one hand, reach back until you can touch the bench.
- Remove the other hand to touch the bench and slowly lower yourself onto the bench.
- Leave the walker where it is and begin sliding into the bathtub.
- Lift one leg over the tub then the other and continue to slide until you’re completely inside the tub.
- After completing your bath, reverse this process.
To use a walker in the shower with a shower chair and fixed grab bar
- Turn your walker to face the facet and fixed grab bar and slowly walk toward them until you’re slightly in front of the shower chair.
- Slowly turn the walker away from the chair so that you’re between the walker and shower.
- With one hand, grab the grab bar and position one foot inside the shower.
- Move your other hand to the grab bar and slide your other foot inside until you’re standing in front of the shower chair.
- Keeping both hands on the grab bar, slowly sit on the shower chair until you’re comfortable.
- Reverse these steps when done.
Check out this helpful video reiterating the steps listed here:
These step-by-step instructions for using your walker to get in and out of the shower works for walkers with two front wheels, four wheels, or a standard walker with no wheels. It’s highly recommended that you practice these steps until you are comfortable with them. Keep in mind that your safety is most important. If you are not comfortable trying to use your walker to get into the shower, please ask for help from a family member or caregiver.
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