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You Got Questions? I Got Answers for Mom's New Knee and Shower Safety!

Knee surgery can be really tough! You don’t know what to expect or how you’re going to feel.

Recently, my mom had knee surgery and wasn’t sure how to prepare her home to make recovery as smooth as possible. Luckily, I’ve helped tons of people with knee replacements and knew exactly what changes in the home would help Mom the best! 

Mom let me make a video of the changes we made in her bathroom. Of course, there are other places in the home to change before knee surgery. We’ll address those areas another time. Plus, the video would’ve turned into a documentary if I filmed all that! 

Photo of Mom, Gerri Donnici, smiling in her bathroom with title “Mom, New Knee, and Shower Safety!”

Photo of Mom, Gerri Donnici, smiling in her bathroom with title “Mom, New Knee, and Shower Safety!”

To see the video, click here!

You guys asked me questions about the video via social media. So today, we’re answering those questions and going into more detail!

Question #1: Why wasn’t it okay for your mom to hold onto the wall hook and soap dish [while getting in and out of the tub shower]?

It’s common for people to reach onto anything to help with balance while getting in and out of the tub shower. Yours truly does the same! The problem is the wall hook and soap dish were installed prior to Mom moving into the home, so we don’t know if they’re barely screwed into the dry wall or into a stud. 

We don’t have x-ray vision.

I want Mom to feel secure while getting in and out of the tub, so we installed grab bars that I KNOW FOR A FACT are screwed into studs and wall mounts. The grab bars are designed to sustain 300+ pounds of force. If Mom lost her balance, the grab bars won’t pull out of the wall. The wall hook and soap dish definitely would pop out of the wall with that amount of force!

FYI: I’m a total fan of using grab bars that don’t look like grab bars. Check out these pics below to see what I mean!

Photo of circular grab bar by Home Depot

Photo of circular grab bar by Home Depot

Photo of towel rack grab bar by Invisia at Plumbing Supply

Photo of towel rack grab bar by Invisia at Plumbing Supply

Photo of corner shelf grab bar by Invisia at Plumbing Supply

Photo of corner shelf grab bar by Invisia at Plumbing Supply

Photo of soap dish grab bar by Home Depot

Photo of soap dish grab bar by Home Depot

Question #2: What’s up with the rug? Don’t all therapists hate them?

Speaking on behalf of all therapists, we do hate rugs. But remember, occupational therapists make recommendations that are specifically tailored to the person!!!!!!! Mom’s bathroom set up is not going to work for everybody else out there! If Dad used the same bathroom, guess what? I’d change it up for him because he has different needs and ways of doing things compared to Mom.

We kept the rug because Mom has slippery tile on her bathroom floor. It’s not anti-slip whatsoever. I don’t want her busting her new knee while getting out of the shower, so the rug stayed. 

Also, she has the ability to step on and off of the rubber backed bathroom rug without tripping on the corners. If she didn’t have that ability, I’d have to figure out something else to make sure she doesn’t fall.

Question #3: Don’t tub shower transfer benches let water run on the floor?

Yes and no. It’s definitely much easier to get water on the floor with a tub shower transfer bench because many people let the curtain sit outside of the tub. This allows gallons of water to drop all over the bathroom floor, which is very very bad for numerous reasons.

Fear not! There are ways to prevent water from dripping everywhere in the bathroom. First, get ready for your shower and sit on the bench. Are your arms and legs inside the tub shower? Great! 

Now take the shower curtain and place all of it in front and behind the tub transfer bench. There should be shower curtain right next to you sitting on the bench. I want you to bend the bottom part of the curtain on the seat to make the outside shower curtain lie on the seat surface while the inside curtain catches water. Most if not all of the water will drain back into the tub shower.

Another way to prevent water is to cut your shower curtain like this physical therapist from Eagle Health Supplies (click here).

Or you could spend a crazy amount of money on a split shower curtain like this one on Amazon.

It’s your money, honey!

Question #4: What were all the final changes you made again?

Well, let me start off this answer by saying that Mom already owned a hand held shower head. Great job, Mom! Hand held shower heads allow people with knee replacements to sit and shower instead of grinning and bearing through the discomfort of standing for a long time on a post surgical joint. Although the video didn’t show it, Mom would’ve had to stand on her tippy toes to reach the mount that held the shower head, which is super dangerous in the shower after knee surgery!

To make Mom safer prior to implementing all of the changes, we moved the rubber backed rug right next to the tub to cover up the slippery tile. I loaned Mom the tub shower transfer bench and lowered its height in order for her thighs to be parallel with the floor and for her feet to touch the bottom of the tub. (Mom’s only 5” tall, ya’ll!)

Dad moved the backrest of the tub shower transfer bench from the right to the left to allow Mom to lean back and rest during the shower. The bolts for the armrest on the tub shower transfer bench were pretty stripped, so we left it off completely. Mom didn’t need the armrest to move around anyway! We placed the tub shower transfer bench within reach for Mom to access the water controls and hygiene products while simultaneously giving her space to clear her legs while getting in and out of the tub shower.

Dad installed two grab bars, non-slip strips on the tub shower floor, and the shower caddy with cradle for the hand held shower head. Mom decided she wanted to spruce up the bathroom’s appearance by hanging a prettier shower curtain.

Overall, my parents spent around $60 on this project. Not bad compared to an ER co-pay! Their reactions were even better to me though! When Mom had her first shower after knee surgery, Dad said, “I didn’t have to help her at all.”

You’re welcome, padre!

Question #5: Are there any recommendations you made that your Mom didn’t want to do at the time?

Yes, I gave a couple of options that were more pricey, but cost effective for the long term.

  1. Cut out the tub ledge. On average, it costs a couple hundred bucks to cut out tub ledges. This makes it easier to lift your legs over two inches of tub ledge versus 15+ inches. However, Mom still likes to give the grandkids baths, so she wanted to keep the tub totally intact for the time being.

  2. Install a zero step entry shower with a trench drain, mounted or free standing shower seat, grab bars, and height adjustable hand held shower head. This is definitely an investment, BUT it would allow anyone of any ability to shower safely. How cool would that be? Mom tucked this idea away in her 3-5 year plan.

Do you have more questions about the video? Have you gotten your house ready for a knee replacement? What are your top tips? Share in the comment section below!

Remember, you better do it before you need it!