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Parkinson's Bed & Bath Modifications

Parkinson's Bed & Bath Modifications

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, meaning that the patient’s condition will decline over time. There is currently no known cure to effectively stop or slow down the disease. The patient and family need to understand that the adaptation and changes to the living environment will more than likely change over time with evolving needs, linked to the current level of disability. Adaptations that work today or next month will need to be reviewed regularly.

Preventative

Measures

Installing a bed rail or pole to assist in getting in and out of bed could be the single most important modification to make in the bedroom, for it facilitates transfers as well as allows loved ones to reach lamps and switches safely. Many products do not require drilling into walls or surfaces to install these products and can often be placed throughout the home if needed!

Evenings are a typical time for falls to occur with loved ones. Bathroom visits and other late-night activities can be dangerous, and the more prepared, the less chance for falls or injuries. Using a bright night light, removing rugs by the bed, placing an alarm clock, phone, or lamp within easy reach on a nightstand can all add elements of increased safety. Additionally, using silk sheets rather than more substantial flannel or down material for more effortless mobility can allow for safe and independent nighttime activities. Replacing top sheets with a light comforter will also help reduce the number of layers and materials to deal with.

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Bedroom

Adjustments

Ensure that the bed frame is secure and sturdy, attached to the wall when necessary. Additionally, if your loved one’s bed has casters, take the time to remove them as they will cause the bed to shift position over time. If transferring from/to a wheelchair, the brakes should always be placed in the “locked” position; double-check if you are not sure! When it comes to transferring your loved one, from the bed to a mobility device, it’s always a good idea to take the precaution of speaking with an OT or PT to determine the safest method for your unique scenario. Finally, always test out bed rails/poles with your loved one to ensure everything is positioned correctly and safely.
Dressing in the bedroom will often call for modifications as the grip, and overall mobility of your loved one will deteriorate over time. A long, handled reacher or claw device to lift clothes and light objects could be beneficial. Several other products, such as a sock aid, button closer, and elongated shoehorn, can also enable your parent to dress mostly independently and with their dignity intact.

Bathroom

Changes

A must-have modification is a raised toilet seat; about 17 inches or higher will do. This will significantly assist in access to the toilet for a loved one who does not have the strength to get out of a lowered position.
Grab bars would be the next best choice. The placement of grab bars will depend on the height of your loved one, as well as the space available. If you are unsure, a Physical Therapist or Occupational Therapist can help you!
Placing railings next to a toilet will significantly increase the safety of older adults during transfers and toileting. These can be placed on one or two sides, depending on the strength of the patients. Make sure to install grab bars into wall studs with appropriate anchors.
Installing grab bars in the shower can also be quite helpful. The use of suction cup grab bars is a second-choice option, as they are often not designed to support the human body weight fully. They are better than nothing, but strongly consider installing stud-supported grab bars onto your walls.

bathroom

changes

A must-have modification is a raised toilet seat; about 17 inches or higher will do. This will significantly assist in access to the toilet for a loved one who does not have the strength to get out of a lowered position.
Grab bars would be the next best choice. The placement of grab bars will depend on the height of your loved one, as well as the space available. If you are unsure, a Physical Therapist or Occupational Therapist can help you!
Placing railings next to a toilet will significantly increase the safety of older adults during transfers and toileting. These can be placed on one or two sides, depending on the strength of the patients. Make sure to install grab bars into wall studs with appropriate anchors.
Installing grab bars in the shower can also be quite helpful. The use of suction cup grab bars is a second-choice option, as they are often not designed to support the human body weight fully. They are better than nothing, but strongly consider installing stud-supported grab bars onto your walls.

a step

in the right direction

Consider whether your loved one can step over the bathtub ledge; this becomes increasingly difficult as the disease progresses.  A grab bar attached to the bathrub may help in this situation.  Practicing getting in and out of the bathtub can be helpful if you are hoping to have your loved one attempt this task on their own. If that is not an option, a shower chair/transfer bench can be a great cost-effective option.
Replacing a shower door from glass to plastic may also help reduce the risk of injury in case of falls, and a curtain could help someone with difficulty grasping. This can be done on your own if you have a set of power tools in about an hour and can make a huge difference!
Another must-have for a loved one with Parkinson’s is a nonslip mat to be placed in the shower or bathtub. Nonskid mats work well around the sink area as well, along with other areas that often get slippery and wet from shower/bath splashes.
Changing the showerhead to a handheld shower wand will make showers easier as well.
Replacing bar soap with a liquid body wash or a soap-on-a-rope can further mitigate bath time risks as soap can be difficult to grasp with low grip strength. Providing easy to use alternatives is a great way to make bath time safer and more enjoyable for all!

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Pierre-Yves Butheau, MPT,CMP

Pierre-Yves Butheau, MPT,CMP

A native of France, Pierre obtained his Master in Physical Therapy in 2002. A Seattle resident since 2002, he has worked in multiple settings serving a geriatric population: outpatient clinic, skilled nursing facilities, home care and was also the rehabilitation director for a prominent West Seattle Retirement Community. He particularly enjoys working with people in their 60’s through 90’s, helping them regain, maintain or improve their mobility, strength, and balance. He has helped hundreds retain their independence and living a more fulfilling life. He currently operates his own business, Butheau Physiotherapy, which offer at home and private physical therapy services

Learn More aBout PArkinson's Modifications

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