17:44 PM

How to Create an Arthritis-Friendly Bathroom That Makes Life Just a Little Easier

CreakyJoints interviews experts including HSS occupational therapist Daniel Crowe, OTR/L, CHT, who offered tips for creating an arthritis-friendly bathroom to make daily routines easier.

Crowe recommended creating a bathroom that improves daily function, reduces stress on the body, and decreases the risk of falling. “This can have a big impact not just on your performance but also on your confidence and independence for years to come.”

Crowe explained that arthritis can cause deficits in strength, endurance, and balance, which can make it difficult to get in and out of a shower-tub combo and maintain a standing position while showering. He suggested an adjustable shower bench, noting, “The transfer bench provides you with support as you bring your legs into the shower from a seated position, eliminating the need to step up and over the tub.”

He also said to consider installing grab bars where needed. “Grab bars provide a stable point at which a person can utilize not just their lower extremities but also their arms. Instead of having two points of contact (right foot and left foot on the floor), you now can have three or four depending on the setup with the addition of one or both arms being involved.”

On the toilet, lowering down or raising from a low seat can put a lot of stress on load-bearing joints. “The lower the seat, the more the body must work and the more stress is involved to accomplish this task,” he said. Investing in an elevated toilet seat can provide an extra two to six inches, which will reduce the effort of going up and down. “While it doesn’t seem like much, this extra height can make all the difference,” he added.

Another easy addition is adding non-slip mats. He advised, “[Placing] non-slip mats in the tub, by the toilet, and by the sink is an easy and effective ways to prevent falls in areas that can easily have moisture build-up or spills on the floor resulting in a slip.”

When it comes to small tasks like gripping a toothbrush and brushing hair, “Gripping and pinching can create forces that may result in symptoms in the joints within the fingers and thumbs,” said Crowe. “Adding grips [to commonly used bathroom tools] can decrease the amount of force needed to grip and manipulate these items and therefore decrease the amount of stress placed on the joints.”

There’s no one solution for making a bathroom more arthritis-friendly, and “Many incidents can be avoided by slowing things down and being aware of your environment and what you’re trying to accomplish,” advised Crowe.

Read the full article at Creakyjoints.org.