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18 Fearless Years


Gary Barg - Editor-in-chief Captain Dignity

One of the first moments of realization for many of us that we are on our way to adulthood (at least very young personhood) is the independence we felt when we first took control of our own bathroom. I can actually still feel the pride I felt when reflecting on my own first memories of being left to bathe myself. I remember that there was some kind of family function going on in the house when I was told that I was old enough to take a bath by myself.  I felt like it was my birthday we were celebrating as I took command of my own bathtub for the very first time.

Flash forward many years later to the look of dejection on my grandfather’s face the first time I had to help him bathe as his health started to deteriorate. The problem wasn’t his memory at that time, just that we felt he was too frail to be left to command his own bathtub anymore. I truly believe, now these many years later, that his loss of bathroom independence had more to do with the lack of safety design in his bathroom than his own abilities. The distressing part for me was seeing his own realization of his lost dignity.

The need to create the best bathroom environment for our loved one’s safety is obvious. What is less evident is the dignity that is lost when we are no longer captain of our own bathtub. And the real shame is when this lost dignity occurs due to something as easily remedied as the modification of our loved one’s bathroom with their safety in mind.

Bathroom Safety Tips

The next time you visit your loved one’s home, excuse yourself, take a long bathroom break and make note of the following things:

Are the floors slippery when wet?

  • Use bathmats and rugs with non-skid backings.

Are the bathtub/shower features easy for your loved one to maneuver?         

  • Install an adjustable height or handheld showerhead.

Are there grab bars on the walls?

  • Install grab bars or safety rails for support when getting in/out of tub/shower 

Is it difficult for your loved one to get into and out of the bathtub/shower?

  • Consider a modified bathtub for easy access.

Do they have easy to turn handles on the faucets?

  • Turn down the water temperature on the hot water heater to 120 degrees to prevent scalding.

If you are concerned about the safety of your loved one’s bathroom, consider consulting a home modification expert for advice.

And may we all remain captain of our own bathtubs for as many years as possible.


  Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine
Wednesday October 24, 2012


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