Grab Bars: Choosing Safety in the Bathroom

When was the last time you reached for your towel rack for support in the bathroom?

If we slip or get off-balance, we reach out to steady ourselves. Many people grab their towel rack when stepping in and out of the bathtub. What if it didn’t support you? Every year it is estimated that 1 in 3 aging adults will fall in their home, most often in their bathroom, making falls the leading cause of injury among Canadians aged 65 and over.

As more people choose to age in place at home, we need to reduce the risks associated with declining mobility. Despite being a popular choice for balance in the bathroom, standard towel racks are unable to withstand the weight of a person and risk being ripped off the wall and contributing to a fall.

Today’s Grab Bars are not the same institutional design they used to be. These days there are many options to choose from in a range of colours, finishes, sizes and shapes. Match the finish on your cabinet hardware or add a pop of colour with acrylic bars in swooping angles. You can even ‘hide’ your Grab Bar amongst your other bathroom accessories; soap dishes, toilet roll holders, and yes, even towel racks can now be found in a dual-purpose Grab Bar form. Choose instead to have a dual-purpose Towel Rack and Grab Bar installed in your bathroom for proper support that will help keep you upright.

Grab Bars also need to be installed properly and in the right locations. Common locations are at the entrance of bathtubs and showers, in the shower, beside toilets, and in the hallway. Use the spot you naturally reach for as a guide, and map out the location based on your arm length, height and capabilities. Mounting on studs is ideal, but stud-free wall mounts and anchors exist as a safe alternative when studs are not available. Finally, choose a length based on the location and check that the weight capacity of the Grab Bar is well over what it needs to support.

Consider installing a Grab Bar well before you need it. There is no time too early to improve the safety of your home!