Bathroom safety is paramount for the elderly and disabled, as most accidents and falls happen in the bathroom. Here are six tips for grab bar placement and safety for you or your elderly parents’ home.
Grab Bar Height. There is no standard height requirement for residential installation of grab bars, and everyone’s needs are different. But as a rule of thumb, in ADA-compliant bathrooms, grab bars are installed 33-inches to 36-inches off the finished floor.
Grab Bar Length. Grab bars should cover as much of the shower wall as possible. For a large shower, have a bar for each wall to ensure safety.
Proper Placement. Even a solidly anchored grab bar is useless if it’s in the wrong place. What location is best depends on the situation. If the bars are being installed for a person with a disability or injury, have this person help you decide which location will be most helpful. A physical therapist or occupational therapist also can help with this decision.
Placement Suggestions. Here are some locations where grab bars are helpful:
Outside of the Shower or Tub. Having a small grab bar placed vertically outside of the shower or tub entry is great for assistance stepping to and from a wet surface.
Tub Deck. Soaking tubs are all the rage in bathroom design. However, trouble can come quickly if someone is unable to exit the tub. Install a grab bar on the wall behind the tub and/or a small grab bar on the tub deck. Be sure the grab bar is in a place where a foot cannot trip on it while entering or exiting a tub.
Towel Bars with Strength. Let’s face it, when you are about to fall you’ll grab on to anything close by – including a towel bar, unfortunately they won’t hold you up. Why not make towel bars safer by replacing them with grab bars? Several manufacturers make stylish bars that would make great towel racks!
Toilet Paper Holder. For those who have a hard time getting up from a seated position, there are some grab bars that can also be used as a toilet paper holder, while still maintaining its strength of supporting your weight to help you rise off the throne.
Step-ups. Sometimes those one step dividers between the kitchen and the living room can be hazardous. Consider a grab bar along the wall next to the step-up.
Stairwells. Ever climb a flight of stairs and find yourself out of breath? Stairs can be especially hazardous for seniors suffering from mobility or balance issues. A grab bar at the top of the stairwell can provide that extra support when it is needed the most. Also consider grab rails on staircases that only have one banister, so as to hold on with either hand.
Exterior Stairs. Those two or three steps can be dangerous, especially in rain or ice conditions. If the house does not have an exterior railing, a wall mounted grab bar could be placed beside the door frame.
Hallways. Consider installing a grab bar in a long hallway or one that has sharp turns.
Closet-Areas. Ever trip on your pant leg while getting dressed in the morning? Installing a grab bar next to a closet area can provide added stability for the senior while he or she is getting dressed.