As we get older, our sense of balance can be thrown off quickly due to a number of reasons and that’s why senior home safety is so important. Grab bars are great for promoting stability and reducing falls. We often see grab bars installed in the bathroom, but they can also be beneficial in other areas of the home as well. Regardless of where in the home you use grab bars, it is important to know that they are only as safe as the backing they are anchored to.
Backing can include wood blocking, plaster, fiberglass, marble, or concrete installed behind the drywall. For proper installation, grab bar backing should be 2” by 6” blocks minimum and 6” long. It could also be two layers of ¾” plywood minimum 6” by 6” that are stacked, glued, and screwed through the drywall. If the installation is done improperly, serious injury can occur when pressure is applied.
The following are areas other than the bathroom where grab bars can be effective for aging seniors:
Top of a Staircase
Aging seniors often suffer from vertigo or have dizzy spells and, therefore, feel a little nervous when reaching the top landing of a flight of stairs. A grab bar at the top of the stairs makes it easier for a senior to stabilize their balance and catch their breath as they pull themselves to the top landing. It also provides extra security when they begin their descent down the stairs.
Side of the Bed
Having a grab bar near the side of the bed can be helpful for lowering and rising up from a sitting or lying down position. Seniors sometimes experience dizziness when changing position. This allows them to get their bearings before pulling up to an upright position.
In the Hall
Installing grab bars in the hall just outside the doorways can be helpful for a senior by giving them something to hold onto while opening the door and making the turn into a room.
Exterior stairs that contain less than 3 steps are technically not required to have a safety rail and can be a potential safety hazard. If this is the case in your situation, you should install a wall mount grab bar on the side of the door frame.
Of course, installing grab bars in the bathroom shower/tub area and near the toilet for lowering and lifting are helpful to aging seniors. Wherever you can minimize the risk of your loved one losing his or her balance, is a place you should consider installing a grab bar. This is an important senior home safety tip for anyone who has an elderly loved one.