As certified environmental access consultants, also known as a CEAC, we participate in ongoing training and learning opportunities which assist us in identifying resources to best meet the needs of our customers who wish to age in their home. Why is this important to you, the aging adult, or the child of an aging parent? The simple answer is that as we age, falls become a greater risk. Falls can lead to substantial injuries which often lead to a hospitalization and can even result in death because of complications from a fall.
While you can’t completely eliminate a fall potential, you can greatly minimize the risk of falling by taking steps to create a safer home environment. This post is going to discuss grab bars and how they can positively affect activities of daily living (ADL).
Grab bars, along with railings or railing systems, are finding their way into residential homes. Styles have become aesthetically pleasing easily blending into home decor and moving away from the cold look of stainless steel as the only finish option.
More important than the style of a grab bar is the function and how you will need to use the grab bar after it is installed. This is where a CEAC can help you determine what meets your needs. It is important to not only think about now, but also what your future needs might be. For example, if you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease your current needs for a grab bar may be minimal. Maybe a simple grab bar vertically installed by a shower will be sufficient. As your disease state progresses, you may need assistance with transferring into the shower or help with balance as you walk down a hallway. This requires the grab bar and maybe a rail system be installed in a strategic manner to assist you. The great news is this can easily be done and there are many kinds of options available to meet your current needs as well as your future needs.
Did you know grab bars can be installed horizontally, diagonally or vertically? There are pros and cons to installing these in the various ways. Let’s discuss the reasons why the installation and direction matter.
1. A horizontal grab bar installation can assist you as you rotate between facing the shower and turning away from the shower. It can also provide leverage if you are in a shower sitting on a chair by making it easier to pull yourself up into a standing position. The downside of a horizontal install is it is at a fixed height and may not be convenient to others who also use the same shower. It may be uncomfortable if you have arthritis because it causes you to twist your wrists at different angles when grabbing to stand up.
2. A diagonal grab bar is much better suited to different people in a household who may use the same bathroom. People can grab the bar at the lower level (for shorter people) and at the higher end of the bar if they are taller. It is also much easier on your wrist as it is grabbed in a more natural position. Diagonal installation also works with someone using a bath chair or bench. The downside of diagonal installation is that it is best when using facing the bar and not from behind.
3. A vertical grab bar installation allows for an easier grip and is often best for stepping in and out of a tub that has a high side. It will help someone with a balance issue, but not meant to support the full weight of someone. You would not use this type of installation if you need to push or pull up.
All grab bar installations need to be anchored appropriately to the wall to secure it from coming loose. There are special anchor bolts which will work if there is not enough bracing behind a wall. This is where a professional can assess what your needs are and what will be required to install a grab bar or rail system with the utmost safety in mind.
Aging impacts all of us in different ways. Being proactive and taking measures to minimize fall risks is a wise move for you to think about now before a fall happens. Call us today to schedule an in home assessment. We work with you to create a plan of action for your current needs while accounting for your future needs.