Bathroom renovation causing family grief.

Started by

My 83 yo mom with some memory issues had asked my husband and I to live with her and take care of her finances. The lawyer and mom signed POAs for us to do this. It includes finances health care etc. She recently spent time with my brother (more trouble asking for respite from my sister & brother than its worth) and when we came home we were told that mom is uncomfortable using the master bathroom walk in shower and wants to use the bathtub shower which would require her to maneuver across a bath seat to get in. She already has trouble simply entering the walkin shower which has about a six inch lip on it. We found a shower that we could put in that has about a two in lip and want to install it but after a second "visit" with my brother and sister she has suddenly decided she doesn't want to do it. Trouble is my siblings seem more concerned about her spending the money than what is safe for her. Here is my dilemma, her ability to use the bathtub shower has been raised by my brother and if she were to get hurt my siblings would probably accuse us of neglect etc. She runs around telling anyone who will listen how horrible her life is and complains about the shower. We feel like we are caught between a rock and a hard place because if we do nothing it leaves us open for trouble from my siblings and if we insist on doing renovation she has said in front of contractor she doesn't want it done. I feel stuck because I feel the best thing to do is renovate but don't want her running around telling everyone she didn't want it. My siblings cause so much grief for us.


I refused to let my mom get in the tub/shower. No way could she keep her balance and try to lift the other leg to get into the tub. She used the shower with the 3" lip BUT I did put her seat in it. I also had the handheld shower head. She could control the temperature and sit down while doing it.

And let me share another thing. I noticed as my mom got older, she really didn't want to shower at all. It had nothing to do with where she showered. She didn't do anything, so she didn't need to shower.....I tried telling her about all the dead skin cells. My bathroom was too cold.....I got a little electric space heater and warmed up the room beforehand......I covered the AC vent in the summer. All that bathing was drying out her skin......I put baby oil on everything after her shower. After doing that for 5 years, I was able to bathe her in less than 5 minutes.....and while I thought I set the water temp at a nice level, I found out it was too warm for her. I never would have guessed that as much as she complained about being cold all the time. So, it may be that you don't need to renovate anything, just reinvent the experience.
She baths herself but doesn't want to use the walkin shower in the master bathroom. I have insisted that she use it up till now but when my brother told us basically that something needed to be done it put pressure on us. We actually would rather not get rid of the only bathtub in the house, but find ourselves wondering how this will will be used against us when she passes. Its complicated but my siblings have treated us pretty badly so far and I feel like I need to protect my husband and I from whatever they do next. I told my husband that her refusal in front of the contractor would protect us from future accusations from them but he doesn't think so.
jojo, I guess I still don't understand the problem....unless she isn't giving you the whole scoop. She is using a walk-in shower with a 2-3" lip and she doesn't like it? Why? That's the first thing you need to know.....which you need to know before you could renovate anyway. Is the problem the 'master bathroom'? Do you KNOW she takes a good shower? Have you watched? That may be the only way to detect problems you may be able to correct. How often does she bathe?
OK, I reread and you say it is a 6" step to the shower in the master bath. I would still help her in , make sure she has seat in there, and be ready to help her out. Bathrooms are the worst places for our elders to be anyway. I wouldn't get rid of the tub either if it was the only one in the house. So, if you must renovate, I would change the mater bath shower to one with a lower lip.
It may not be that there is a problem with your Mother using the shower in the Masterbath, but that she does not want to use "your" bath/shower. Have you thought of moving your Mother into the Master suite & you & your husband moving into another bedroom. That might solve all your problems.
I own my own home and it is sitting empty while we are living in my moms house. She gave us the master bedroom when we moved here to help her after my dad passed away last year. Anything we bring into the house seems to cause her great distress so most of our things are confined to the garage or the bedroom including some of our foods etc. My office stuff is also in the bed room. We also have a recliner in the bedroom with our tv because mom only watches certain shows and will watch them over and over. We can't watch tv in the main part of the house because she will walk in and turn what we are watching off.
My mom has plenty of money to do the renovation so that isn't an issue. I think as far as caring for her it would be a plus. My husband and I will inherit the house someday but frankly a house without a bathtub is not an asset so the renovation would not benefit us at all. The problem is that she is constantly concerned she will have another hip surgery and the six in lip on the walk in shower will cause her great pain. She also doesn't want to disturb us in order to take a shower which it doesn't but we can't convince her of that. Then we were told by my brother basically it needs to be fixed cuz she is uncomfortable with the situation and he started talking of her sitting on the bath bench to crawl in and out of the shower which we think is downright unsafe. We talked with mom about doing a change after this happened and she thought it was a great idea. Then my brother and sister spent a day with her and suddenly she has done a total turn around on wanting it done. I am just trying to figure out legally if we would be better off insisting on having it done or just leaving the situation the way it is will cause us problems in the future because my brother insisted on changes being made.
Sounds like to need to take the tub out for a low shower and then reverse the process later.....or let brother do it later.......
I think her having a safe shower is more important than you not having a bathtub when she dies its STILL her house why not install a "wet room" all the nh have them and they are very safe im sorry but you not having a bathtub seems to dominate this question? So its hard to understand what the problem really is? She may be making excuses as she dosnt want to wash? Either OR put in a safe shower its not what they want sometimes its what they need!
PS we have been TOLD by nurse that we need to remove bath and get a safe shower installed for her with chair.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support