One of the biggest concerns about aging in place - a term that refers to people choosing to live and grow old in their own homes - is whether it’s possible to do so safely. The answer is undeniably yes, although it’s important for those aging in place to make some modifications to ensure their homes are as safe as possible.
Installing grab bars is one of the simplest and most worthwhile home improvements that those aging in place should undertake. Grab bars offer a secure and steady place for people, especially those who struggle with balance and mobility, to latch onto. They also allow for seamless transitions from one position to the next. Grab bars significantly reduce the risk of falling, particularly in the bathroom - the room most often associated with grab bars - where the floor can often be wet and slippery and getting up and down from the toilet can be challenging.
While grab bars are most commonly associated with the bathroom, they have a multitude of often overlooked uses and areas where they should be installed throughout seniors’ homes, particularly in areas where the risk of falling is highest. Those who might cringe at the thought of installing what they might consider to be industrial looking products throughout their home will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the grab bar market has expanded tremendously in recent years. No longer does style have to be sacrificed for safety. Grab bars now come in a variety of colors (white, black, pink, orange), finishes (textured, matte, polished, nickel, chrome, brass, silver), shapes, and sizes. The options are endless as are the places grab bars should be installed.
Installing a grab bar next to the front door, as well as any other exterior doors, is a perfect solution for seniors who struggle with balance and might be unsteady on their feet. For these seniors, opening and closing a door while maintaining their balance presents a challenge. A simple grab bar can help remedy this by offering something to grip onto upon entry or exit. A weatherproof grab bar with non-slip molding improves graspability even further and, helps prevent the user’s hand from slipping on the bar when wet. These grab bars should be mounted vertically at a height most desirable for the senior.
In the same way that grab bars should be installed at exterior doorways (as outlined above), they should also be installed next to a home’s interior doorways. Interior doorway grab bars will provide seniors with stable support at multiple locations throughout the home, and help them maneuver from room to room if need be. In particular, these grab bars can provide a senior with additional stability when opening or closing sliding doors, stepping through or over thresholds, or reaching into closets to retrieve an item off the shelf. The more grab bars, the more places to securely grasp onto to avoid a fall.
Long hallways and transitional hallways can be hard for some seniors with limited mobility or activity tolerance to navigate. Installing grab bars along the pathways of a home increases a senior’s safety and helps them conserve energy. Those wary of installing grab bars in prominent areas of their home should opt for sleek and sophisticated looking grab bars that seamlessly blend in with the home’s design and style. From elegant designer options with victorian flare, to modern and sleek ones with level lines, to those made of wood, there is a grab bar suited for every home.
People spend a significant amount of time in their kitchens. For seniors who are unsteady on their feet and spend a lot of time standing, the potential risk of falling in the kitchen is greater. Yet, kitchen safety is often overlooked, potentially because it’s difficult to figure out where to install a grab bar without comprising room to maneuver. Most walls of a kitchen are occupied with cabinets and countertops, and most seniors rely on these for support as they move around their kitchens. Because of this, it makes sense to install grab bars continuously just under the countertop and above the hinges of the lower cabinets. This will provide continuity of support along work surfaces without interfering with drawers, cabinet doors, and other essential functionalities of the kitchen.
Many seniors need help maneuvering the steps from the garage into the home. Regardless of the number of steps, it is worthwhile to install a foldable grab bar on one or both sides of the steps. Foldable grab bars come in a variety of sizes and are a great option for tight areas as they seamlessly fold up and thus do not take up additional space.
Simple modifications can make the greatest impact on safety within the home. Grab bars offer so many opportunities to provide stability in the places where seniors need it most. With unlimited options to choose from, there is guaranteed to be a grab bar out there to meet everyone’s safety and style needs.
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