Caregiver Question | 08/10/23

I’m afraid my wife will fall in the shower.

DEAR CARALLEL: My wife Bonnie and I are in overall good health but she’s become unsteady on her feet recently. It’s a first for her and it’s been a little scary.

I first noticed it when she was holding onto the rails more to get up the stairs and sometimes she has to try more than once to stand up from our couch.

When we spoke with Bonnie’s physician about it, she brought us in to run some tests, out of which came nothing. No news is good news I guess and the doctor did prescribe some physical therapy to get Bonnie stronger and help with balance. She goes twice a week and is making slow progress.

Bonnie manages OK while getting around the house but it’s the shower that makes me nervous. I’m afraid she’ll fall in there and I know how dangerous a fall can be!

Should I get a shower chair? Where can I find one? — Barry in Westbrook, ME

DEAR BARRY: Thanks for writing in. I completely understand how a change like this can be scary.

But I’m glad to hear that you spoke with Bonnie’s physician, and I’m very happy to hear she’s seeing a physical therapist (PT). I hope she sticks with it and continues to improve!

Now to your question, yes. Based on what you’ve described I think you should consider a shower chair for her. There’s a strong likelihood that it will make the shower easier and safer–and give you both some additional peace of mind in the process.

That being said, I’d ask the PT and/or Bonnie’s doctor about it first because it’s always a good idea to get the perspective of a professional from the start. Not to mention that when you get one, it will be important for you to be trained on how to use it properly.

And that training will need to come from either the PT, an occupational therapist, or perhaps someone in her doctor’s office. You may even want to see if they can do a complete home safety evaluation while they’re at it!

In the meantime, I’ve included a video that I suspect you’ll find helpful at the bottom of this note. It’s from the May 2023 edition of our monthly Caregiver Conversation Series

In this video, we talk about adaptive equipment with Cindy and Christina Hardin-Weiss, the Co-Founders of Adaptive Equipment and Caregiving Corner. Cindy is a physical therapist, Christina is a speech therapist, and at the 25:30 mark of the video, they spend a few minutes talking specifically about shower chairs.

They touch on what could be right for you (i.e. a shower chair for a walk-in shower, a tub transfer bench for a bathtub shower) and where you can potentially find one. At the risk of being a spoiler, they’re big fans of lending closets (as am I).

And in addition to that, I’d also suggest you check with Bonnie’s insurance company to see if they can provide one and asking Bonnie’s doctor if she can prescribe one.

I hope this helps, Barry. Let me know how it goes!

–Jennifer, Carallel Care Advocate

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