Don’t Make This Mistake When Modifying Your Home

January 31, 2022

showerhead Image by 955169 from Pixabay

As an occupational therapist, I have seen a number of loving, caring families who go overboard when faced with a health crisis with a loved one, such as a fall resulting in a hip fracture. It’s understandable, family wants to do everything possible to help their loved one.

But what do I mean by overboard?

Hypothetical case (based on years of experience). Mrs. H (completely fictional) had a fall at home, resulting in broken hip, requiring a total replacement. Not being able to put weight on her broken leg, the family goes into overdrive in making the home accessible for a wheelchair.

Instead of discussing options with the therapists, they discuss among themselves, and one of them mentions Cousin Joe Bob is in construction. Joe Bob remembers all the yummy Christmas dinners at their house, and starts work immediately out of concern and love.

Twenty thousand dollars later, they discuss with the OT (me or one of my team members) about what they have done as discharge looms closer. The family is dismayed when I break the news that in their case  they would have been better off if they had not converted the bath to a shower (with a 4 inch lip that she may have trouble clearing with non weight bearing status), and a $50-75 extended tub bench would have worked with the tub she had in place and actually be a much safer option.

Believe it or not I’ve had this situation more than once, and it is a costly mistake. By the way, if you do convert a bath to a shower the best option is to have no lip at all to allow a chair to roll in.

A few other shower/bathing tips while we are on topic is to make sure you get a good handheld shower head. It doesn’t have to be super expensive, but don’t buy the cheapest one at Wally World it might last a week if you are lucky. If you buy one in the $15-$30 range it should do well, unless you want something super handy. If you can find one with a shut off on the handle, you’ll appreciate it.

Make sure to have a good quality bath mat to keep from sliding in the tub or other non skid strips to keep from sliding. Outside the shower and bath those pretty mats use stand on to dry off – only put down when you are getting in/out of shower and put them away the rest of the time.

Those cute towel racks – replace with an attractive grab bar. You don’t have to be 65 to slip and fall and not be able to get back up. The first thing to grab is a towel rack, and the first thing to give way is the grab bar.

There you have it – a few tips to save you from a $20,000 remodel, and the last tips save $50,000+ hip fracture. Now what to do with all that money you just saved? Thinking about a down payment on a place let me know! (And don’t forget to consult with your friendly occupational therapist if you are needing to get home modifications completed).