When it comes to grab bars it can be challenging to know what to look for, where to get help, how to install them and overall have a better sense of safety benefits.That’s why we’re committed to answering the most common questions you and your loved ones may have throughout the home modification process. This article will answer:
- How essential is grab bar installation for my parent’s safety?
- Should I tackle this project myself or find a handyman?
- Will grab bars fit the overall aesthetic of the home?
With The Right Tool, Falls Are Preventable.
Have you ever noticed grab bars in the bathrooms of your favorite restaurant, shopping center or gym? Yes, this because they’re all over the place!
This is because the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that public places install grab bars for those who need more assistance to sit or stand. They’re an essential tool to better balance and control, for all of us. But while grab bars are an important requirement for public access and safety, most private homes are not equipped with them.
Many older adults don’t see the need for grab bar installation because they haven’t experienced a fall or injury. However, this is one of the biggest misconceptions about home modifications.
Home modifications are about prevention before an accident. That’s why when families ask us, “how do you know when it is exactly time to consider having grab bars installed?”
Our answer is always, “it’s never too early.”
And while this is true for every area of the home, it is vital for mobility around the bathroom. Having a slippery tub or bathroom floor after showering can be a serious slipping hazard for anyone, regardless of age or ability. And there are often a number of factors that lead to greater fall risk. These factors can include:
sensory and balance problems
weakening muscles and stiffening joints
changes in your body such as vision problems and loss of feeling
sore feet or unsafe shoes
Or if the individual has a chronic condition such as Diabetes, COPD, Parkinson’s Disease or arthritis they might have already noticed it can be challenging to find their balance.
By providing better balance we can elevate some of the common concerns older adults have as they move around the home.
Grab Bar Application and Installation
Modifications should be installed so that they are tailored to your specific needs.
The best way to accomplish this is to work with a trained occupational therapist (OT) and have a handyman to install modifications. We recommend this process because:
- The OT will be able to thoroughly assess you and your home, going room by room, to recommend the safest and most effective placement for any modifications.
- The trusted handyman will know exactly how to properly install the grab bars and minimize any potential risk of the bars becoming loose.
However, we realize that not everyone is ready for a full home modification project. So whether you have a personal handyman to install your modifications or you’re hoping to tackle the project yourself, there’s a few key safety basics you need to understand.
First off our recommendation is to always start with the bathroom - as we’ve mentioned it’s the most likely spot in the home for a slip or fall.
In fact, because bathroom safety is a major concern and grab bars are one of the most cost effective and easiest home modifications to install, many doctors recommend them to all of their 65+ patients. With 54.9% of older adults currently using grab bars within their bathroom.
Wanting to implement grab bars into the bathroom but not sure where to begin? Click the link to schedule a complimentary home safety checkup. An expert will work 1:1 with you to find the best solutions.
Where Should You Install Grab Bars?
A good start is to install:
One grab bar at a 45 degree angle next to the toilet to help with sitting and standing.
One grab bar vertically oriented near the shower entry at about torso height.
One grab bar across from the shower entry positioned horizontally to provide support while showering.
One grab bar under the shower controls in order to have a hand hold when turning the shower on and off.
Determining Function and AestheticLastly, we want to address the look of grab bars within the home - a common concern for many older adults when it comes to considering home modifications. Rest assured though, grab bars can come in all different shapes, sizes, styles and colors! Sometimes these aesthetic factors can even be important to your specific needs. Here’s some of the common grab bar types and their specific functions that are often overlooked.
If you have a visual impairment:Sight is something that often concerns many older adults. If that’s the case for you, it can be beneficial to install a grab bar that is a contrasting color to your bathroom tile. This is especially true as you move around your home at night. Many falls and slips in the bathroom happen during the nighttime when getting out of bed to use the bathroom. By using a contrasting color grab bar it will increase effectiveness of the extra stability.
If you have sensitive skin:You may be prone to abrasions. If you’re worried about skin sensitivity there are actually grab bars specially designed to have sufficient grip, but not injure the skin on your hands.
If you want grab bars with multiple functions:There are now “incognito” grab bars. These grab bars serve a variety of different functions. For example, you can install grab bars that also serve as toilet paper holders. Or maybe you keep using the towel rack as a handhold in the shower, you can install a towel rack grab bar that can both hold your towel and has grab bar strength.
If you want great aesthetics:
Grab bars come in hundreds of different colors that allow you to combine safety in your home with aesthetics. So whether you live near the beach or in a bustling New York neighborhood there are grab bars to fit your design wants.
Lastly, whether grab bar installation is something you’re looking to do for yourself or a loved one, just know that Jukebox Health is here to help. We believe that simple modifications can have the greatest impact on safety within the home - and many times this starts with grab bars.