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I'm looking for a way to make the valves in the pictures below easier for my mother to use. She has a bad case of arthritis in here hands, so this was suggested by a nurse.

I would really prefer any ideas that don't require opening up the walls and replacing any plumbing. Do I have any options outside of that?

I was thinking of changing the handles. I also thought about removing the valve stems and replacing them with something, but I'm not sure if this is a real option.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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enter image description here

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Is the problem that she can't easily grip the handles, or are they difficult to turn? –  Steven Apr 30 '12 at 21:04
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I think gripping is hard for her. The lever handle solution would be an improvement, and rebuilding the valves to make sure they are turning easier is a good idea, too. –  Jim Apr 30 '12 at 21:25
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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I'd try something that has a single lever to turn. These are generally easier to grab. And while you're at it, a similar replacement for doorknobs can be helpful. A quick google turned up this:

http://www.moen.ca/shared/images/ko_weblarge/82403.jpg

http://www.moen.ca/bathroom/faucets/tub-shower-faucets/_/N-683Z1z141uvZ1z141qu?Ns=P_Product_Popularity&offset=0

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As shoemaker said lever handles are a lot easier for the elderly to use, you may want to consider changing to ceramic disk lever handle taps( the whole top assembly) as this don't get harder to turn off as the washer wears out because they don't have one. They have a ceramic disk which usually last about 3-5 years before needing replacement.

If you decide to keep the old taps you would want to disassemble the "shaft" or spindle and replace the washers in it (jumper valve and spindle o-ring/s), clean the thread inside the spindle housing and put some tap grease in there to make it easier to use.

This link shows the tool for cleaning the inside of the spindle and you could also reseat the brass that the washer seats against with a reseating tool p.s. I wouldn't recommending using the one pictured as they are rubbish and leave a ridge In the seat but it will do for illustration purposes.

Then make sure what type of handle you need the porcline lever handle set in the picture has a centre external screw, which doesn't look like it will fit with your spindles as they all have an external nut to hold the handle on, but just check the old ones before purchasing new ones to save wasting money on taps you can't use.

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Cleaning the inner works to make them work smoothly sounds like a good idea. –  Jim Apr 30 '12 at 21:25
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Before you do, source replacement parts. The last thing you want is to disassemble it all and find out you cant find replacements! –  Steven Apr 30 '12 at 21:50
    
@Steven so true! But the replacement parts are standard parts spindle orings and tap washers but + 1 for thinking ahead –  UNECS Apr 30 '12 at 23:08
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A search on Google for "replacement shower handles" returned a ton of hits... A couple simple ones are Design House 522631 Madison Shower Handle Kit, Satin Nickel Finish or for a more antique look she might like Porcelain Lever Handle, both of which are < $25... [Design House 522631 Madison Shower Handle Kit, Satin Nickel FinishPorcelain Lever Handle

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