Personal care equipment

Looking after yourself when you have Parkinson's can be difficult if you have symptoms that affect your movement or grip, especially if you live alone. Specialist equipment can help with this.

Bathing and showering

Some people with Parkinson’s find bathing or showering difficult. People have told us they are concerned about slipping and falling. And family or carers can find helping a person out of the bath or shower difficult.

Grab rails are a very useful aid in bathrooms and toilets because they can help give you stability and confidence. Read more about grab rails on the 'Helping you get around' page.

It is also a good idea to apply a slip resistant material to the bottom and edges of the bath or shower, as well as to railings. Shower heads on a hose are useful as then you can get the water exactly where it’s needed.

Bath and shower seats

Bath and shower seats can help you get in and out of the bath with less risk of falling. They also mean that carers don’t have to do any heavy lifting if you need help. Some people find these seats help to reduce problems with their balance when standing in the shower.

There are 2 main types of bath seat available. The first sits across the top of the bath, either as a seat or a simple board. This can either be removable or attached to the wall on a hinge. The second type is normally more complex and can be lowered into the bath manually or electrically.

If you have a shower cubicle, you can use a free-standing stool or mount a ‘flip-down’ seat on the wall. Many styles are available, from small, simple waterproof stools to large electrically powered seats. The one that is best for you will depend on the type of shower or bath unit you have, and your own preferences.

Converting a bath to a shower or wet room

Some people convert their bath tubs to shower units or wet rooms that contain a shower. They may also add a bathroom to the ground floor of their home if they find it hard to climb stairs. In some cases, it may be easier to convert a small bedroom or large storage area into a shower room instead of replacing a bath.

Some people with Parkinson’s find that a shower with a suitable seat and grab rails makes washing much easier, especially if the shower floor is level with the bathroom floor.

Make sure handrails are in good positions to help with balance and walking in or out. Anti-slip tiles or adhesive anti-slip material on the floor can prevent slipping when the floor gets wet during your shower.

As with any major building work in the home, these kinds of conversions can be expensive. Talk to an occupational therapist about whether converting your bath into a shower or wet room would be a good idea for you.

Paying for a bath-to-shower conversion

It may be possible to get some funding to pay for your conversion. Speak to an occupational therapist or your local council, social services or Parkinson’s local adviser about grants.

Using the toilet

Some people with Parkinson’s find using the toilet difficult. They can find it hard to sit down with confidence and to get up from a seated position, especially if the seat is lower than knee level. Many people with Parkinson’s also find they need the toilet more often and more urgently. But there is equipment that can help.

Raised toilet seats

A raised toilet seat can help you get up more easily from a seated position on the toilet. Many people find this a key piece of equipment to help them maintain their independence.

When choosing a raised toilet seat, make sure the seat is large enough for you to sit comfortably and avoid leakage. Make sure the seat isn’t too high for other people in the house and that it can be safely removed and replaced.

Toilet grab rails

A grab rail can help you get on and off the toilet. It can also help with balance problems while standing and using the toilet. There are different grab rails to choose from, including free-standing rails and hinged drop-down rails that fix to the wall behind the toilet.

Toilet grab rails are usually supplied by social services or the social work department. The type of rail that is best for you will depend on:

  • whether a fixed rail will fit the area around your toilet
  • whether it will be at the appropriate height
  • whether you will need to adjust the rail at all

Speak to an occupational therapist or Parkinson’s nurse to find out which type will suit your needs and how best to get one.

For information on installing grab rails elsewhere in your home, see the 'Helping you get around' page.

Other equipment

Various hand-held urinals are available for both men and women. They may be useful if you need to urinate urgently, but can’t get out of a bed or chair quickly enough. Some people use commodes if they find that they need the toilet urgently or often. This means that they don’t have to walk far at night.

You can also buy discreet disposable pads to place in your underwear to help manage incontinence. Some men with urinary incontinence prefer to use a sheath. These fit over the penis and collect urine in a leg bag.

Items like these are often available from specialist continence nurses or services, district nurses or with a GP prescription.

Find out more about looking after your bladder and bowels when you have Parkinson's.

Last updated May 2017. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at publications@parkinsons.org.uk.