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HOME COMFORTS

Bathroom grab bars are essential components for any home, but especially for seniors aging in place and others with balance or dexterity issues. Getting into and out of the shower is not as risky as the ingress and egress from a bathtub, but still elevates the risk of falls.  Bathroom grab bars or safety assist rails are recommended the most for preventing falls and accidents within the bathroom.

Grab Bars, or sometimes known as bath safety rails or assist rails should be considered for anyone with any issues regarding, dexterity, mobility or balance.  All will benefit from shower grab bars or bathtub grab bars.

Today's grab bars are found in a variety of finishes and appointments to complement any bathroom style.

Permanent grab bars offer the greatest strength.  When it comes to installing bathroom grab bars onto the walls of a shower or bathtub, we most often recommend permanent installation.

Clamp-on bathtub safety bars can be found as well. This type of bathroom grab bar is secured onto the side of the bathtub with a dial that clamps down securely onto rubber pads. The grab bar extends up from the clamp (usually in a U-shape) and provides a stable surface to hold onto.

A bath area should provide at a minimum two stable, sturdy surfaces to hold onto when stepping into and out of a bathtub or shower. They should be reachable by the person exiting the tub, where they are able to hold onto both prior to stepping into or outside of the tub.

Bath safety grab bars that have a non-slip surface as part of the grab bar provided added confidence for the user(s). The metal types will have a "knurled" surface, a set of ridges to help with ensuring a firm grip. 

 

Grab Bars are an Important Consideration when putting a Premium on Bath Safety

Home bathrooms often need adaptation if an mature adult person wants to stay at home and remain independent. Ensuring bathroom access and safety may require room adaptations.

Easy Bathroom add-ins are a simple way to start.  Falls often occur as people get in or out of the tub. Non-slip suction mats or rubber silicone appliqués in the tub will help prevent falls.

Also, a non-skid, latex-coated bath mat on the floor beside the tub provides firm footing.

Safety bars
Grab bars (also known as safety bars) around the bathtub and toilets are a necessity for safety. These grab bars should be institutional-grade, stainless steel and installed according to the manufacturer's directions for firm, solid support. These bars vary in price, but under no circumstance should towel rods or improperly installed grab bars be used as bathtub aids. They will not support a person who loses balance.

Different types of bars and poles are available from ELDERLUXE.com. The type, number and positioning of supports depend on:

  • The wall space around the tub;
  • The wall structure;
  • The plumbing arrangements; and
  • The disability, if any, of the person(s) using the tub.

Two types of grab bars usually are needed at the tub/toilet area for the ambulant older person:

  • For use in getting in and out of the tub from a standing position;
  • For use when lowering or raising the body to or from a seated position in the tub.

U-shaped grab bars are available in 12- to 40-inch lengths. They may be secured vertically or horizontally to a wall.

A vertically placed U-bar, attached to the side wall at the foot of the tub, allows safe entry and exit. (The foot of the tub is the end where the water faucets and drain are located). This vertical bar should be about 32 inches long, and placed near the outer tub edge.

Horizontally placed grab bars/safety support bars are best for lowering or raising the body to or from the seated position in the tub. A 12- to 15-inch bar may be placed at the foot end of the tub and a longer one along the back wall.

Diagonally placed grab bars are not recommended because the hand may slide and if footing is not secure, falls are more likely. 

If the tub is free-standing at both ends (as in many older homes) and the end wall is too far for grab bar placement, a vertically placed pole on the access side of the tub may be used. This pole should be about 1-1/2-inch diameter and extend from floor to ceiling. Position it between 1 foot 3 inches to 1 foot 6 inches from the end of the tub and close enough to the access side to reach from a seated position. It also can be used to grasp with one hand while operating the water controls. 

Angled 90 degree grab bars that reach from the back wall (behind the tub) outward over the tub and down to the floor beside the tub, with wall posts, may be used when one or both tub ends are enclosed by a wall. This is useful for persons needing to use both hands to enter/exit the tub, or if other people with varying dysfunction's also use the tub.

Grab Bars and Safety Rails
 
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