Homemade bath lift for frail mom?

jallyMay 30, 2012

Hi, I posted this yesterday on the Caregivers forum - now trying my luck here:

Is there any way perhaps, for a handyman to build some sort of dumb waiter as an alternative bath lift for very frail geriatric mom who can't manuever out of the tub anymore?

She likes soaking in tub, therefore a shower (instead of bath) might prove to be a big letdown for her. It's one of her few pleasures.

I'm thinking the dumb waiter might rest inside tub on 4 suction-tip legs, sorta like a baby swing on 4 legs.

And yes, I'm aware of the Neptune, Ameriglide, etc.

...and also aware of the inflatable bathing cushion.

But they're very expensive, and the one for $500 has a non-flexible back.

Who needs a back anyway, since there's already a back cushion in the tub.

Also most bath lifts on the market don't descend all the way to bottom of tub, rather 3" above.

btw, Has anyone here tried the inflatable bathing cushion, such as by Mangar?

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OK, since posting this, I've done hours of surfing the net including YouTube.

Below is some of what I jotted down (to think over). If anyone has any other good ideas, I'd appreciate it.

Patient hydraulic life (Hoyer) by Advanced Home Care, used with nylon mesh split sling.
(problem is... might not fit in small bathroom)

Molift smart hoist...ditto...

Is Cressy patient sling waterproof?

Hoyer Bath Mount Adapter (problem is, no renovations are allowed, so is that required to use adapter?

WESCO Winch Lite Lift (YouTube)

Building elevator for a fort (YouTube)

Dumb waiter for bagged coal (YouTube)

portable lift (YouTube)

cup elevator - grain elevator

elevator winch

mechanical advantage pulleys

homemade "elevator":
video of guy who attached milk carton with cables to winch on ceiling of workshop. His kid got inside the carton & got lots of kicks from homemade "elevator

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 3:22PM
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What about getting one of those walk in tubs with a door instead?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 9:04PM
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I really commend you for trying to accommodate your mothers remaining joys. It's hard as people age.

The other forum comment about liability should be taken very seriously, especially regarding bathroom safety. You are working with a person that likely had slower reflexes, diminished ability to assist with maneuvering, and possibly strength issues. Plus we are discussing an environment with limited space, water, and slippery surfaces.

The 5 year survival rate for hip fractures in the elderly is 50%. For someone who is frail serious fractures of any kind run the risk of starting a path of steady decline. Often rehabilitation is involved, often inpatient, often with decreased mobility, and these lead to other complications.

I would encourage you to explore other options if a walk in tub is too much. Does the local YMCA or other fitness center have a hot tub in their pool area she could use on occasion? Are there any adult day care or respite centers that would offer a hot tub or bathing facilities? Is there an inpatient or outpatient physical therapy center that allows access to their soaking facilities? Sometimes memberships to these places are viable options. Or if she might benefit from physical therapy anyway (ask the doctor) she may be able to access their soaking facilities that way.

Whichever route you go for, just please be careful. Best of luck!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 3:36PM
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I used to be in the home medical equipment business. Unfortunately, this problem is not easily solved without a significant investment.

Recently I helped a neighbor for her self-bathing by shortening the legs of a tub seat and filling the seat (injection-molded) with mortar to keep it weighted down in the tub. It got her lower into the water while also allowing her the ability to pull herself up and out. An old steel tub seat might also do the trick if you can find one. (Add rubber tips, of course.)

Hoyer lifts and the like require too much space for most bathrooms, in addition to requiring clearance for the lift base under or straddling the client's center of gravity (i.e. it doesn't work for lowering someone into a tub). They are meant more for use in a bedroom (eg. transfer from bed to wheelchair, etc.

At a trade show I once saw a ceiling-mounted track with lifter. Very costly and specialized, but one could lower someone into a tub, and they would sit on the mesh sling while bathing.

As you research "bath lift", "tub lift" etc. keep in mind they are also targeting facilities with space to move other equipment around. Many times it's not appropriate for home use if one needs a secondary piece of equipment nearby (eg. a Hoyer lift, wheelchair, etc.)

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Minor correction...actually I filled the tub seat LEGS with mortar to weight it down.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 8:53AM
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If you go with a hoyer-type lift, I recall there is a bracket that can be permanently attached to the wall as a pivot point for the lift. This install requires installation into the studs, and possibly some modification to beef up the wall structurally.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 11:48AM
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    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 11:51AM
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to homebound:

Thanks for the input! I have some further Qs:

Have you seen any of these in action:

Mangar inflatable cushion (reaches bottom of tub unlike others

Wizard hydraulic bath lift (Mobilitysmart)

Sterling 311; Neptune; Ameriglide Premium

As for the ceiling track option for Hoyer, that's extremely expensive, and requires renovation. This is at my sister's place - she'd turn purple so it's out of the question. She already had a major stroke two months ago. I guess the Hoyer Bath Mount Adapter would also be out of the question, due to requiring installation?

What's best in this situation is perhaps a combo of winch & pulleys, albeit self contained (similar to porch swings or baby swings that are on 4 legs).

Then, the self-contained-contraption can be anchored to the safety rails which had been installed 2 years ago at head/foot & side of tub.

Also, again, if anyone has instructions for an idea that's a composite of the stuff I posted above (many were viewed on YouTube, such as the WESCO-winch-lift) I'd appreciate it.

P.S. Regarding the mention of fitness centers, hot tubs, health clubs, whatever, those are N/A in my family situation

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 11:40PM
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I heard those walk in tubs are horrible. One must sit inside while the tub fills with water and remain sitting (freezing) until the entire tub drains. Those tubs hold lots of water and take forever to fill up.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:13AM
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No, I haven't seen any of those in operation.

I would not be inclined to rig something up because I can imagine too many ways one could get hurt.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 12:39AM
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golddust, wow, I hadn't realized that. Thanks for enlightening me re: the flip side of walk-in tubs!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 1:08AM
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It's true, but not always. The new kohler tub for instance, fills and empties really fast. But it's expensive, too. Video here:

Here is a link that might be useful: elevance

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 1:25AM
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Thanks for the link, writersblock!
Though as you say, it is very expensive.

If i could win it in some lottery, it would be perfect for my mom, since she could remain seated in the same seat throughout, with barely any maneuvering.

But it's nearly 10x as expensive as even the Hoyer ceiling track, and that, too, is expensive (aside from requiring installation).

It's frustrating, because on the other hand, I've seen those various video's of people rigging up homemade lifts at very low cost. So it's probably achievable for enterprising types.

Hey, why couldn't some geriatric supplier adapt WESCO's idea to facilitate baths for frail people?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 6:44PM
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P.S. I just now found this safeway step during surfing - have any of you ever seen the safeway step in action?

Wondering if it could work for frail geriatric.

Here is a link that might be useful: Safeway Step (waterproof door separate)

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 7:05PM
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