If you are caring for an elderly loved one, worrying about their safety can be all-consuming. There are different adjustments that have to be made in a senior’s home for them to avoid accidents and injuries. For those struggling with a lack of strength, balance, and coordination, of the most accident-prone spaces is the bathroom. This is true for most of us: we have to balance on one foot when getting in and out of the shower/bathtub, have to deal with slippery surfaces, etc. The risk of an injury is present for anyone, but it is especially great for the elderly. An easy solution to this problem is a grab bar. Grab bars can make bathrooms much safer for seniors. In this article, we will share the best grab bars on the market, so you can make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing them for your loved one.
What are grab bars?
If you are caring for the elderly at home, you may know that a grab bar is essential in ensuring their safety in the bathroom, especially if seniors are struggling with limited mobility. Grab bars are easy to install and help seniors avoid falls, providing stability and support. In most cases, grab bars attach to the bathroom wall and assist seniors in moving from one part of the bathroom to another. They are simple and cost-effective, giving seniors back their independence when it comes to bathroom-related tasks.
Types of Grab Bars
Part of the essential bathroom equipment that ensures a senior’s safety, grab bars come in several types, designs, sizes, shapes, and materials. You can easily find one that works best for your elderly loved one. Grab bars can be installed horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Some are permanently secured to the wall and others can be temporarily installed. Here are some of the most common types of grab bars:
- Standard: a straight grab bar that comes in different sizes and is usually made of metal or plastic. These have either a smooth or non-slip surface, depending on whether or not your senior needs help with their grip. These types of grab bars have to be secured to the wall permanently.
- Angled: these grab bars combine horizontal and vertical grab bars in one and are usually installed in an L shape, at a 45 or 90-degree angle. They also have different surface options and are advised for those with weak or limited grip. The horizontal part of the bar reduces strain on the user’s arm and wrist. The vertical portion makes lowering and raising easier.
- Suction cup: This is a removable grab bar and attaches to non-porous surfaces. You can stick this type of grab bar to tiled walls just by using suction and no additional tools. To do this, users need to open vacuum levers, press the suction cups against their chosen surface, and close the levers again. If your loved one is someone who needs this sort of support temporarily or lives in a rented apartment where they cannot drill into the wall, suction cup grab bars can be ideal for them. However, these grab bars do not have the same durability as those that are permanently installed and cannot always support the senior’s entire body weight. We recommend using this type of grab bar only for balancing purposes.
- Clamp rail: this option is quite different because it attaches to the side of the bathtub with a self-tightening clamp. If your loved one mainly needs assistance moving in and out of the bathtub, this may be the best fit for them. It’s also easy to move and will need to be tightened regularly, just like the suction cup option.
How and Where to Install
Once you decide on what type of grab bar your senior needs, you’ll have to choose its correct placement. Without doing so, seniors may not be properly supported. What’s more, improperly placed grab bars can actually increase your loved one’s risk of injury. Here are a couple of steps to take before installing a grab bar:
- Observe your loved one and how they move around in the bathroom. Get a sense of where they need assistance.
- Take the layout of the bathroom into consideration.
- Think about the shape and height of the bathtub.
Generally, it is recommended that you install at least two grab bars: one outside the bathtub and one on the inside wall. The first one can be vertical and attached to the outside wall next to the bathtub, assisting the user to get into the bathtub. The second one should be above the bathtub and on an inside wall – usually installed horizontally to help the user lower and raise themselves before and after bathing. When deciding on the height of the grab bars, you can consult the ADA and take the user’s height into consideration. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), grab bars should be installed at a minimum height of between 33 – 36 inches from the bathroom floor.
Below, you will find several grab bar options to choose from, all available on Amazon.
The Moen 24-Inch Grab Bar
These grab bars support up to 500 pounds and are made of durable stainless steel. The Moen 24-Inch Grab Bar also comes with a SecureMount design, ensuring that the installation is secure and easy at any angle. You can use these ADA-compliant, L-shaped grab bars for the bath, shower, or toilet areas of the bathroom. The bar measures 24 by 36 inches, is 1.5-inches in diameter, comes with concealed screws, and has a lifetime warranty.
The 16.5″ Safe-er-Grip Balance Assist Bar
This assist bar has a suction cup device and so, users have to install it by sticking it to a smooth, flat, and non-porous surface. This bar also has to be reattached before each use and cannot be used to support the senior’s full body weight. However, it is a great temporary solution for those struggling with keeping balance.
The Vaunn Medical Secure Bathtub Safety Rail
The Vaunn Medical Secure Bathtub Safety Rail helps seniors access the tub with a 14″ handle and heavy-duty steel construction with ultra-durability and firm grip. This safety rail allows for simple installation with no required tools and can support up to 300 pounds. With its ambidextrous design, The Vaunn Medical Secure Bathtub Safety Rail works for both left and right-handed users.
The AmazonBasics Grab Bar
This durable and corrosion-resistant grab bar is made of stainless steel. It is 12 inches but can be purchased in longer lengths. It supports up to 500 pounds and comes with mounting screws, an installation guide, and a 1-year warranty.
Vive Heavy Duty Bathtub Rail
If your elderly loved one is someone who suffers from arthritis and has trouble gripping objects, the perfect grab bar can be difficult to find. Vive offers a great solution to this problem. Their grab bars have ergonomic rounded handles and can be grabbed comfortably. This grab bar – with its adjustable clamp mechanism – attaches to a bathtub that has a wall thickness of a range between 3.5-6 inches, and it has rubber pads to protect the tub from scratches.
Stander Security Pole and Curved Grab Bar
Finally, for those of you who may need stability and balance support around the home, the Stander Security Pole and Curved Grab Bar can be ideal. This bar, with its pivoting curve bar in the middle, can be installed both in the shower and in any other area of your home. Plus, it requires no drilling; instead, it uses tension to secure to the ceiling and floor. It also comes with screws for easy installation, if you find this necessary.
Hopefully, this article has helped you get closer to choosing the bathroom grab bar that is right for you, your budget, and your personal preferences. Whatever product you choose, make sure that it is something that fits your senior’s needs and makes them feel as comfortable and supported as possible. By making the right choice when selecting a bathroom grab bar, you can help your elderly loved ones stay independent and safe for longer.