Bathroom Grab Bars: Purpose and Benefits for Seniors

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A bathroom is fraught with risks, with wet, slippery and hard surfaces. Hence, fall prevention is a priority in the bathroom for all, especially for the elderly. According to the CDC, one in four people over 65 falls each year, and unsafe bathrooms are a common cause of such falls. 

Bathroom grab bars are one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent slips and falls among the elderly. When correctly installed, a bathroom grab bar for the elderly provides support to use the toilet, shower safely, or get in and out of the bathtub. 

Top Reasons Why You Need Grab Bars

Grab bars, toilet safety frames, support rails, or bathtub steps are necessary to make your home aging-ready. As mobility and balance reduce with age, having such support around the house, especially in tricky spaces like the bathroom, enhances seniors’ safety in the house. Here are some ways to make your bathroom safer for the elderly. 

    1. Toilet Safety Frame and Rail – For most seniors, sitting and standing up from the toilet starts becoming a concern as they age. If you find yourself looking for a handhold while using the toilet, the safety frame or a safety rail is a convenient way to add support, rather than holding on to the sink, wall or other objects. 
    2. Bathtub Safety RailsFalls are most likely to occur while getting in and out of a bathtub. Wet hands do not provide a good grip on the edges of a slippery tub. A safety rail parallel to the tub makes it easier for seniors with restricted mobility to stand up or sit in a tub. Additionally, you can install a non-slip bathtub step to make stepping in and out of the tub safer. They have a clamping system that adjusts to the sides of any standard tub. However, before you install any devices, check for compatibility with your tub. For example, some bathtub safety rails are not suitable for fiberglass tubs. 
    3. Wall grab barGrab bars are a necessary addition to the home for those aging in place. Install wall grab bars in areas where you need support while sitting down or standing up, such as around the toilet, near the sink, in the shower area or anywhere else that you feel you need to hold on to for better balance. If you are wondering where to begin, the 2010 ADA Standards provides valuable information about installing grab bars. However, it is best to simulate the situation to know exactly where and how to install bathroom grab bars for the elderly. 

Benefits of a Grab Bar for Seniors 

Bathroom grab bars for the elderly are an essential addition to homes to enhance safety and reduce the risks of injury caused by falls. They aid in independent living and improve the confidence of carrying out personal daily activities. 

  1. Help reduce falls and injury – Slips and falls, particularly in slippery bathrooms, can result in grave injuries. Such an accident might result in bumps, bruises, fractured bones, or even severe brain injury. When you have grab bars placed, you have something to hold onto if you start to lose balance, slip or fall. Grab rails, unlike towel rods and other bathroom fixtures, won’t collapse under your weight as soon as you hold on to them.
  2. Aid in improving independence – As your mobility deteriorates with age or post-surgery, you may find it challenging to sit on the toilet or get out of the bathtub without assistance. Installing grab bars boosts your independence and helps you continue doing tasks on your own.
  3. Increase comfort and stability – Your poor balance not only puts you at risk of falling but also hurts your confidence, leaving you in doubt about your capabilities. With grab bars installed in your bathroom and other spaces, you can experience enhanced comfort and safety, keeping you steady while you use the shower or get in and out of the tub. 

Grab Bars by Step2Health

Installing safety features in the bathroom is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to avoid falls. Today, you can get bathroom grab bars of different kinds to suit individual needs. Make sure you simulate the exact location of grab bars and then install accordingly. Here are a few support devices and bathtub safety rails to assist seniors on how to get in and out of the bathtub and other areas in the bathroom. 

McKesson Toilet Safety Frame

This sturdy toilet safety frame of lightweight anodized aluminum supports users up to 300 lbs. The padded waterfall armrests provide enhanced comfort. This frame offers adjustable height and width, and you can fit the aluminum brackets onto most standard toilets. 

McKesson Toilet Safety Rail

This toilet safety rail is space-saving as it doesn’t have the ‘legs’ of a toilet frame. It provides support to persons with restricted mobility or those recovering from an injury and balance while they use the toilet. The McKesson toilet safety rail contains cushioned handles for a comfortable grip and doubles up as armrests. Moreover, the adjustable width can suit different users, and the sturdy steel structure can withstand 300 lbs. 

Bathtub Grab Bar

McKesson Bathtub Grab Bar

This grab bar for the bathroom attaches to your tub with a clamping mechanism. It provides a good hand position for support while sitting in or standing up from your tub. The sturdy steel construction has a tool-free mounting and allows you to adjust the width from 3 to 7 inches. The rubber pads secure the grab bar to the tub tightly without scratching the surface. However, note that this assistive device is not suitable for fiberglass bathtubs.

Clamp On Tub Rail 

drive™ Clamp-On Tub Rail

The drive™ Medical Clamp-on Tub rail is made from steel with powder coating to suit the bathroom interiors. This easy-to-clean bathtub safety rail has height and width adjustments to suit most standard bathtubs. In addition, the steel clamping mechanism has rubber padding to avoid scratches. It fits securely to the side, adding support to sit or stand up from the tub. However, this clamp-on rail is not suitable for fiberglass tubs.

McKesson Wall Grab Bar

This grab bar is a must-have in spaces where you need support while moving around. It is instrumental in bathrooms and around the shower area. Made of sturdy steel with a white, powder-coated finish, the McKesson Wall Grab bar comes in varying lengths from 12 to 18 inches. The package includes mounting hardware, and you can install it vertically, horizontally or diagonally. 


Final Thoughts 

Independent living can be made safe and secure for seniors aging in place by installing support aids like the tall grab bars. The bathroom can be a tricky place to be in every day. Fraught with risks, it becomes imperative for seniors to install grab bars, rails, bathtub step stools with handrails, and other mobility devices to make using the bathroom safer for everyone.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How High Should a Grab Bar Be in the Shower?

According to the ADA guidelines, grab bars should be installed at least 33 to 36 inches from the floor in the shower. However, these guidelines are for commercial spaces, and private individuals can decide on the ideal height based on their needs. Moreover, you could consult an occupational therapist to guide you better. 

Should Shower Grab Bars Be Horizontal or Vertical?

Shower grab bars are usually installed horizontally in the shower area. However, you could also install a vertical or diagonal shower grab bar to suit your convenience and support needs.

What are the ADA Requirements for Grab Bars in Showers?

Here are some of the ADA guidelines on grab bars in showers:

  1. Have 1.5” of space between the wall and the grab bar.
  2. Have a 1.25” diameter bar for a comfortable grip.
  3. Install on the sidewall closest to the toilet and the wall behind the toilet.
  4. Install horizontally between 33 inches and 36 inches maximum above the finished floor.
  5. Install them where there is reinforcement in the walls, whether mounted on studs or reinforced walls.
  6. Properly installed grab bars should support 250 pounds of force.

Vince Baiera

 

Vince Baiera is the founder of step2health, a mobility aids and wellness company for older adults. He is a former ICU Nurse of the Cleveland Clinic and Duke University Hospital in the Cardiac ICU. With years of working on the frontlines, Vince noticed the struggles of older adults and people with mobility issues that became an impediment for both patients and their caretakers. He then designed and created the patented product, Step2Bed (and its variants) that helps seniors and those with mobility issues safely get in and out of bed. His philosophy concerning aging is to plan ahead and start with simple home and life modifications to avoid being overwhelmed at retirement.

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