When you care for an ill or elderly loved one in your home, you must look at all of your appliances and furnishings with a new eye. All the items that seem common and that pose no problem for you can present many challenges for your loved one. Your stairs may be unclimbable, your bath may be too hard to get in or out of, and your cabinets may be too high to reach.
In the bathroom, your vanity can also present challenges for some, such as those who are in a wheelchair or who have other mobility issues. Here's what you need to know about each type of vanity to choose the right one if you are providing in-home care:
A wall-mounted vanity is the best choice if you are caring for someone in a wheelchair or using a walker. The sink is mounted directly to the wall, and the space below it is open. Your loved one can sit in the wheelchair under the sink while tending to brushing teeth and other personal hygiene, helping him or her to maintain some sense of autonomy. The open area under the sink also provides more space in the room to accommodate the wheelchair or walker, even if you are helping your loved one tend to those tasks.
If you are installing a new vanity, you can ask to have this hung lower to accommodate your loved one's reach from a wheelchair.
The downside of the wall-mounted vanity is that there is no cabinet underneath, so you lose some storage space. You can shift your storage to a nearby hall or linen closet, or you can hang a medicine cabinet and take advantage of vertical space. Another potential downside of the wall-mounted vanity is that the exposed plumbing can burn your loved one's legs if the hot water is being used.
A collapsible vanity is a portable vanity that has a basic wash basin and a pop-up mirror that can be folded down. The upside is that the vanity can be easily moved to any room in the house, and it can be tucked out of the way when it is not in use. You can move it to wherever your loved one is, which is especially useful for those who are bed-ridden or who have mobility issues. It also helps you to make the most of the space by being able to be put up when it's not in use.
The downside of the collapsible vanity is that it's not hooked up to working plumbing. The uses are limited to basic hand or face washing, tooth brushing, a simple shave or maybe a sponge bath. However, you'll have to dump the water and clean it out after each use.
Cabinet-style vanities are the kind typically found in most homes. They include a sink inside a cabinet. Some may be double vanities and include two sinks over a longer cabinet. This type of vanity gives you more space for things like medications, personal care items and linens, and it keeps the plumbing protected. It also gives your loved one a surface area to hold onto while standing.
The downside of this type of vanity is that it is relatively inflexible. It takes up a lot of space in the bathroom, and the height is not adjustable without building custom cabinets. It won't allow room for a wheelchair, and it may be too high for a person who is sitting in one.
Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of vanities can help you make the right choice for your ill or elderly loved one. Use this information to help you find the right choice for your specific needs.
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