My dad was 89 years old when he fell and broke two vertebrae in his neck at his home in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He recovered remarkably well for someone at that age—he’s able to use a walker to get himself around in their apartment and has adjusted to “assisted living” about as well as anyone could. Beyond my mother, his walker, and his wheelchair, the aid that has meant the most to him for the past two years are wall bars. The biggest question they had at first, was where to install grab bars.
For my dad, his biggest need for wall bars is in the bathroom. His grab bars allow him to use the bathroom with confidence, knowing that he can maneuver himself from the toilet to the shower and the sink with stability and balance.
What Are Grab Bars?
So what are grab bars? Grab bars, otherwise known as wall bars, are safety devices designed to enable a person to maintain balance, lessen fatigue while standing, comfortably redistribute their weight while maneuvering, and, most importantly, give them something to grab onto in case of a slip or fall. Grab bars can quickly transform the level of safety in a home to better accommodate people with mobility issues. Caregivers can use a grab bar to assist with transferring a patient from one place to another.
Grab bars increase safety and accessibility for anyone who has limited mobility. They are often seen in public accessible toilet stalls, but are also used in private homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes. Grab bars are most commonly installed next to a toilet or in a shower or bath enclosure but can be installed anywhere in a home.
CDC Recommends Grab Bars to Reduce Injury Risk
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 230,000 nonfatal bathroom injuries among people over the age of 15 are treated in emergency rooms each year. Most bathroom injuries occur in or around the tub or shower. Injury rates increase with age, especially accidents where a person slips and falls near a toilet.
The CDC concluded in its report that injuries might be reduced through environmental modifications, including adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower to reduce falls and installing grab bars next to the toilet for added support.
Where To Install Grab Bars In Your Home
Bathrooms are the most common places for grab bars in private homes, but they are certainly not the only location that grab bars can help provide extra support and stability. Floor to ceiling grab bars, or stability poles, are often used in bedrooms to provide help in getting in and out of bed or a chair or to help caregivers by assisting transfers.
Grab bars next to a toilet help people using wheelchairs or walkers transfer to the toilet seat and back to the wheelchair or walker. They also provide a big assist to people who have difficulty sitting down, have balance problems while sitting, or need help rising from a toilet or chair. In a shower or bathtub, grab bars help maintain balance while standing or maneuvering, assist in getting in and out of the shower or tub, and generally help to lessen the risk of slips and falls.
Things to Know When Installing Grab Bars
1. Grab bars can be mounted in a variety of areas
A grab bar should be able to support a person weighing up to 500 pounds. The height, weight, and ability of users should be considered when choosing which products to install. Generally, grab bars are installed 33-36 inches from the shower floor. The height, position, and location of the bar can be adjusted to fit a user’s needs.
Dimensions: Our American made satin stainless steel grab bars are 1-1/4″ diameters. We suggest a 1-1/4″ diameter for your home. (the smaller diameter can be easier to grip for people with small hands). ADA compliant exceeding ADA requirements by providing a weight capacity of 500 lbs when properly installed
APA Medical can help you decide what your best options are for installing grab bars in your home, either horizontally, vertically, at an angle, or a combination of all three if that’s what best suits your users.
2. Grab bars should be located where they can best assist users
For tub/shower combinations, grab bars should be installed on the back wall and control wall of the shower. The ADA recommends that two bars be installed on the back wall, one 8 to 10 inches from the rim of the tub and the other parallel to it 33 to 36 inches from the base of the tub. For walk-in showers grab bars should be installed on a side wall, back wall and on a side wall near a shower seat if there is one. For bathtubs, grab bars can be installed near the rims on each side of the tub or near the controls to help users maintain their balance when getting in and out of the tub.
3. Grab bars are available in a variety of lengths and styles
Grab bars are available in various lengths ranging from 12-to-42 inches. They also come in a variety of shapes and finishes. APA Medical offers a wide variety of shapes and styles- SPECIAL ORDER—you can find bars that will blend in with the décor and fixtures in your bathroom.
APA Medical Offers a Wide Variety of Grab Bars and Safety Poles
APA Medical offers a wide variety of wall bars to make life easier for those with mobility issues. Is safety an issue? Let APA make your home a safer place to live. We can install on fiberglass, sheetrock, wood, cement, and tile.