Monday, July 22, 2013

Sitting Down to Shower

"Sean," I told him in earnest on the phone, "we are senior citizens and both of us need to sit down in the shower. Hubby doesn't like me bossing him around, so when you come I just know that you can do wonders, because he doesn't want me bossing him around. I think he will listen to you."

Knight Sean (Occupational Therapist) drove up in our circular driveway to our door in his Hummer-looking large black four-door jeep. When Sean came in the door, Sean told hubby, "Mr. Johnson, I am here to have you take a shower." With one command at a time, Sean skillfully broke down the process and hubby took a sit-down shower! He raised the sturdy shower bench I couldn't raise and was using in the yard for weeding.  He remarked that the port-a-potty we have would also work in the shower.

Solution One. Sean told me to get grab bars installed for the shower. I once had bought them when the shower was retiled by homeowners insurance for a mold problem we had maybe six years ago before dementia entered our household, However, the construction crew did not install them and I had taken them back. I surmised that the grab bars were not part of the original construction and not needed in the repair. Bummer.

Twice as good a deal as six months ago
I have just paid off our interest-free six month Home Depot credit card balance and now I could take longer for the interest free loan.  So I went online and chatted with Tiffany to see if I could get grab bars installed.

Tiffany: Welcome to the Home Depot! My name is Tiffany and I am a Bath Product Specialist. How may I assist you today?
Carol: I need a grab bar installed in our shower.
Tiffany: Hello, Carol.
Tiffany: In regards to installation/remodeling, please contact our At-Home Services at 1-888-480-9500, press "1", and then enter the three-digit code "267." You will be asked to put in your zip code and then will be connected with a representative who may better assist you with your installation/remodeling questions and concerns.
Carol: Thanks.

When I called, I found out that they sell grab bars, but do not install them.

. . . But, Home Depot doesn't do grab bars!

So I decided to still try to obey the knight with the four-door black jeep and see about getting grab bars installed from Lowes. Lowes also does not install grab bars, but they did have something that might work--Safe-er-Grip, Balance Assist for Shower or Tub. The Lowes clerk knew what I was talking about, as his own mother had fallen and had to have surgery for a broken hip and with the anesthesia her dementia had gone downhill. If hubby can avoid falling, he can avoid the possibility of anesthesia for surgery and the accompanying decline of dementia following anesthesia. If I can avoid falling as I have done twice recently, I can continue to take care of my hubby at home. Physical therapist Susann talked me through the installation of the two Balance Asists and the best use of them--for balance, not for pulling oneself up. One fell down that first night, however.

Two large bricks covered by a rug
and Safe-er-Grip on toilet
Solution Two. I put two 8 inch by 8 inch by 16 inch bricks on top of each other between the shower and the toilet with a rug on top of them. Hubby has a counter on his right and the bricks on the left to get off the toilet. Those bricks now hold his soap and shampoo for a sit-down shower. But guess what! He moves the soap dish to where it was at the back of the shower and stands to take his shower. You know what they say—you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

Just as Physical Therapist Susann left, Occupational Therapist Sean came. The timing corresponded with another event.  Sally and I were having lunch with another friend. Jake came over to have his lunch with my husband and Susann left and Sean was there with Sally and my Alzheimer's husbands.

The two balance assists in the shower

Sean liked the two brick idea between the toilet and shower. Sean asked if they would be okay when he left and I told him the two Alzheimer’s buddys would be fine. The two men love being together and are so funny together. When hubby sat and waited for me at Best Buy recently, he said to me that it felt strange not to have Jake by his side. These men have a unique bond and fantasy life about things they have done together. When Sally and I came home from our lunch date, the hubbies were indeed happy and had planned the four of us would go to dinner and we did that. We women can’t do all the planning!

So it has been up to me to persuade hubby with our new sit-down shower arrangement. Getting him to shave is easier because he can feel his beard. He thinks he showered yesterday, when he hasn't. Alzheimer's patients need a routine and we just have to manage somehow so he can remain in our home without falling and with strengthened muscles.

Solution Three. Now hubby had injured his knee taking socks off to put in the hamper. This is how the last hospital trip happened. I got him new socks that are easier to take off. Hubby is not using this walker now, but I put the hamper between the legs of that walker so he can carefully balance himself as he takes off his socks. I notice he does hold those handles on the walker when he uses the laundry hamper.

Laundry basket in walker

Sitting down in the shower is not an embedded solution yet, as hubby  takes a stand-up shower in his sit-down shower. Calling Knight Sean! Need another lesson in sit-down showers! And hey, Home Depot and Lowes, with our aging population we need you to install those grab bars.


  1. This is one area where we planned. We had the bench put into the shower during our home addition, fully anticipating that one of us was going to need it in the not-too-distance future. I've got my money on Joe. ;)

    1. You are a good planner indeed! We do not have stars and hubby was wheeled into the house from the hospital without a ramp. The shower is easy to get into, and I did see that when we bought out home in 2001 when we were first married. But I didn't think of all the yard work! Uffda!

      Enjoy your youth, Mar, and your sons.

      Hugs and prayers,

  2. Our senior center has a service whereby retired handi-men will come out and install grab bars, ramps, etc. Maybe yours does too, or knows of such a thing in your area...

    1. Good idea. I will ask our Senior Center if they have this service.

    2. First Baptist Church in Plant City has such a service and I am going to use them. They call it "Second Saturdays".