Home Safety: Grab Bars

The most commonly used and most effective devices for safely promoting independence or assistance in the bathroom and bedroom.

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Helpful Highlights

  • Grab bars come in many configurations and mounting options (floor, wall, overhead), and can be uniquely customized to fit all your loved one's needs.
  • Studying your loved one's bathroom and bedroom habits will help you determine grab bar needs. Observing how you assist them will also help determine needs.
  • Occupational therapists are licensed professionals and experts in determining assistive device and ergonomic needs.
  • Grab bars are equally valuable in the bedroom!

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For loved ones who have difficulty with transferring and/or supporting their own body weight for prolonged periods due to generalized weakness, pain, arthritis, or unsteadiness, they may rely on you to assist them with activities such as toileting, bathing, or even getting out of bed.  Especially if you are the only one assisting your loved one, you both run the risk of injury.

Even for persons with excellent mobility, the bathroom can present a fall risk because of slick surfaces and a confined space.  This is why non-slip adhesives are recommended inside the tub or shower and non-slip bath mats are recommended outside the tub or shower. However, for older adults with mobility, balance, or strength issues, more assistance is needed.  Assistive devices not only help your loved one in caring for themselves, but assist you in providing care to them.  They increase comfort and safety, and can actually increase care efficiency and effectiveness.

Grab Bars are the most commonly used assistance and safety devices.  They are essential for assisting your loved one to transfer and pivot, though also help stabilize them and offer support while standing and performing tasks.  They are available in limitless sizes, shapes, and configurations for customization to an individual's space and care needs, and they are no longer isolated to the bathroom.  Use them in the bedroom, living room, and elsewhere throughout the home.  They are available in curved formations, with different mounting options - wall, floor, overhead, and more.  Some extend floor-to-ceiling, some also move (swing/turn and lock, or fold up/down when not in use).

In the bathroom, gauge where and how your loved one is most comfortable toileting, bathing, and performing hygiene, and choose grab bars to fit the situation.  For example, if your loved one has a means to support themselves while at the sink (e.g., grab bars that extend out from the wall on either side of the sink), they may be able to perform various hygiene activities on their own—brushing teeth, shaving, hairstyling, face washing, etc.

For the bedroom, grab bars next to dressers, outside closets, and especially at the bedside can be very helpful.  Some grab bars have mobile elements to move with your loved one.  Bedside grab bars can be installed under mattress, overhead, or floor-to-ceiling.  

SAFETY: While grab bars do come with instructions and hardware for installation, unless you are skilled in this area, it is best to contact a professional to ensure proper, safe, and solid installation.

Grab bars may be partially or wholly covered by your loved one’s health plan.

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