21 Tips for Washing, Grooming and Going to the Bathroom With Parkinson’s Disease

As a person’s Parkinson’s disease progresses, simple everyday tasks such as washing, grooming and going to the bathroom can become difficult due to typical Parkinson’s symptoms such as tremors or rigidity. Those living with the disease will be keen to do as much for themselves as possible and retain as much of their independence as they can, particularly when it comes to personal hygiene.

We’ve put together a list of handy tips to help people living with Parkinson’s continue to wash, groom and go to the bathroom easily and safely using information from the National Parkinsons Foundation.

Washing

  • Installing at least two fitted handrails near the bath or shower will allow the patient to grab hold of something safe and secure while getting in and out of the bath or shower. These should be professionally fitted if possible to ensure they are strong enough to support the patient’s weight.
  • A chair or bench in the shower or bathtub will help those who have trouble balancing while standing. A handheld showerhead is best used in these circumstances.
  • Make sure the water isn’t too hot.
  • Place non-slip rubber mats in the bath tub and shower cubicle.
  • Bath rugs and mats should have a rubber backing so they don’t slide across tiles.
  • Liquid soap in a pump dispenser is safer to use than hard bars of soap which can slip out of hands and leave slippery residue underfoot.
  • Install a shelf in the shower or bath area that is between knee and shoulder height for easy access to soap, shampoo, and other essential washing items.
  • Advise the patient to always take their cell phone or medical alert device into the bathroom if they’re home alone.

MORE: Lifestyle changes that can improve quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease

Grooming

  • Patients should sit down when brushing their teeth, shaving, applying makeup or drying their hair so they don’t have to worry about balance.
  • It’s important to support the upper body by resting elbows on the sink or vanity when grooming.
  • Electric devices are often better and safer to use than non-electric ones, such as toothbrushes and shavers.
  • Hands-free hair dryers can be mounted on a vanity unit.

MORE: 10 quotes to help you when you’re feeling down

Going to the bathroom and incontinence

  • Toilet frames or grab bars will help patients get up off the toilet safely.
  • Introduce a regular schedule for visiting the bathroom, such as every two hours or before meals.
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks which may cause more frequent bathroom visits.
  • Try to avoid fluids two hours before bed.
  • Patients should use a nightlight or keep the bathroom light on during the night so they can make their way to the bathroom safely.
  • It’s advised that those with Parkinson’s attempt to fully empty their bladder each time they visit the bathroom.
  • If patients become prone to bathroom accidents, they should try using incontinence products such as pads or padded underwear.
  • Patients should seek medical advice if they experience burning or a sudden increase in frequency or urgency to urinate as this may indicate a urinary tract infection.
  • A urologist can help if patients are experiencing problems with incontinence.

MORE: Using exercise to help combat Parkinson’s disease symptoms

Parkinsons’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

5 comments

  1. Craig Vial says:

    I have never seen my wife’s problem addressed. She needs assistance using the bathroom. Family bathrooms are great and we use them whenever possible. They are not, however, always available. We usually use the ladies room as it is cleaner. We’ll open the door and give an all clear….. Needless to say, we have had some adventures……. but she has a right to use the bathroom when needed. What do others do? We can’t be the only ones to face this problem. Please address this if you can.

    • Karen says:

      I also take my husband to the restroom and I go into the men’s restroom to keep him from falling. I’ve had men come on in and use the restroom while we are in there. I don’t care because I just want my husband safe. It is very challenging at times. I don’t know anyway to get around this and I agree with you, it hasn’t been addressed as to a solution. My priority is to just keep him safe whatever it takes. My husband is very impulsive and lord knows we’ve made more trips to the emergency room than we care to admit. People don’t realize the needs of someone with this disease. It gets very difficult to go places at times.

  2. David says:

    Most facilities have a Disabled stall which has more space. Surprisingly, they don’t seem to have a hook for clothing. If the door opens in, it’s also tricky exiting with a wheelchair.

  3. Rene Evans says:

    Thank you for asking this question and addressing the issue. I’ve called numerous agencies on aging, the city / state government, etc., and no one has a good answer. The newer buildings are better equipped with family restrooms, but obviously most of the older buildings are not. If we go to a movie, I can pick the theater, however, if we have an appointment at an office building, I cannot. I (female) knock on the men’s room door – call out housekeeping, if someone answers – we wait outside. If no one answers, I have a typed written note and attach it door the door with tape “Temporarily closed – will reopen in ten minutes.” I take my husband in to the men’s room. If a man comes in while I am in there – it is his choice to stay or wait. Under the circumstances, it seems to work out. No one has been rude yet. They can see that we are both struggling with a difficult situation. When we leave, I take the note off the door. Look forward to other comments…

  4. Rene Evans says:

    Forgot to check I would like to receive follow up comments by email.

    The above should have read – attach note to the door with tape…

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