By Leslie Farin
Many people treat their bathroom as a sanctuary. And why not? This room frequently serves as a spa-like retreat in which to enjoy time alone on a daily basis. It’s easy to create beautiful bathrooms with the wide range of products available these days, but they can be costly. For that reason, we recommend you design your new bathroom to use for the long term no matter what your current age or physical ability.
My ideal bathroom is serene, stylish, and of course, safe. It should feel more like a resort instead of a rehab facility. Think a safe bathroom can’t be beautiful? Yes it can, thanks to new safety products on the market. Why not install decorative grab bars or towel bars that double as grab bars now before you think you need them? The truth is, grab bars are not just for older adults to age in place. It’s easy to slip and fall in a bathroom because of the water – grab bars can come in handy for all ages.
A Twist on Towel Bars for Aging in-Place Bathrooms
Towel bars are generally located in convenient locations outside the bath or shower. While understandable, bathers tend to instinctively grab onto them to ease in and out when finished. As towel bars are not designed to support the weight of a person, this common act creates a serious fall risk. It makes sense to use a grab bar in place of a grab bar to both hold towels and serve as an assist when needed.
Today, grab bars are found in decorative finishes and designs to seamlessly integrate with the style of your bathroom. These bars, previously thought of as utilitarian, now easily add both beauty and functionality which allows you to age in place in your home. Today’s grab bars are not your grandma’s grab bars!
Why Doesn’t Everyone Add Grab Bars to Their Bathroom?
The answer is fear. People don’t like to believe they will get old, which leads to unpleasant thoughts of their own mortality. But we all do… right? If we’re lucky that is. As they say, consider the alternative. Why not plan ahead? It just makes good sense.
There is another really good reason to make your bathroom easily accessible for all and that is for guests. You may have a friend whose son broke his ankle and is temporarily on crutches. Or perhaps a family member developed multiple sclerosis recently. Life is hard enough for those with a disability without them having to worry if they will be able to use the restroom comfortably when they go out.
Can You Buy Decorative Towel/Grab Bars?
Yes, you can buy towel bars that are designed to also function as grab bars. Since decorative grab bars that double as towel bars are readily available for purchase, you can outfit your bathroom for safety without sacrificing your decor. Grab bars do not need to look utilitarian.
These types of towel bars are specifically manufactured to serve a dual purpose, providing a convenient place to hang towels while also offering support and stability like a traditional grab bar. Designed with the necessary weight-bearing capacity, grab bars securely mounted to the wall can handle the additional load when used as a grab bar. These items may come with features like textured surfaces for improved grip.
Where Can You Buy Combination Towel/Grab Bars?
One of my favorite places to buy designer grab bars is at Great Grabz, where they describe their grab bars as “Jewelry for Your Home”. Check out Grab Bar Specialists too for some unique grab bars for your aging-in-place bathroom. Finally, we like the selection at Amazon when we need a decorative grab bar sent quickly.
Considerations When Putting Towels on Grab Bars
In most cases, you can put towels on your grab bars. However, for those grab bars that are specifically necessary for safety and used frequently, towels on a grab bar can cause a slip and fall. In those cases, you want to make sure you don’t load up every grab bar with towels. Perhaps add towels sparingly leaving plenty of the bar free. Safety should always be the priority.
Do you have a favorite place to buy decorative grab bars that double as towel bars? Drop your suggestions in the comment section below.
FAQs About Grab Bars
While not everyone may feel they need grab bars in their bathrooms, these assistive fixtures provide significant benefits for a wide range of individuals. Here are some commonly asked questions about why everyone should consider having grab bars installed in their bathrooms.
1. Who can benefit from having grab bars in their bathrooms?
People of all ages and abilities can benefit from having grab bars in their bathrooms. This includes seniors, individuals with mobility or balance issues, pregnant women, people recovering from injuries or surgeries, and anyone looking to enhance bathroom safety.
What are the primary benefits of installing grab bars in bathrooms?
Grab bars offer several essential benefits, including:
Fall prevention: Grab bars provide support and stability, reducing the risk of slips and falls in slippery bathroom environments.
Independence: With the help of grab bars, individuals can maintain their independence and perform daily tasks in the bathroom more confidently.
Accessible bathing: Grab bars make it easier for individuals with disabilities to transfer in and out of the bathtub or shower safely.
Injury recovery: For those recovering from injuries or surgeries, grab bars can aid in balance and support during the rehabilitation process.
Pregnancy support: Pregnant women often experience balance challenges, and grab bars can offer support and stability during this time.
Can’t I rely on towel racks or other fixtures for support in the bathroom?
Towel racks and other fixtures are not designed to support body weight and are not as sturdy as grab bars. Using these items as grab bars can result in accidents and damage to the fixtures. Grab bars are specifically engineered to provide the necessary support and stability for safe use.
Where in the bathroom should grab bars be installed?
Common locations for grab bars in the bathroom include:
Alongside the bathtub or shower, for assistance when getting in and out.
Near the toilet, to provide support when sitting down or standing up.
In the shower itself, to prevent slips while bathing.
Are grab bars aesthetically pleasing?
Modern grab bars come in a variety of styles and finishes. This makes it easier to find options that blend seamlessly with your bathroom decor. Many manufacturers offer grab bars with stylish designs that add to the bathroom’s aesthetics without compromising safety.
How are grab bars installed, and can I do it myself?
You can install grab bars by following the manufacturer’s instructions, and some DIY enthusiasts may be able to handle the installation. However, for more complex installations or if unsure about proper anchoring techniques, it is best to hire a professional to ensure safety and stability.
Fun Facts About Grab Bars
Grab bars may seem like simple safety devices, but there are some interesting and fun facts associated with them. You’ll be a hit at your next cocktail party after learning these fun facts!
Invention History: Some historical evidence suggests people used grab bars as early as ancient Rome. However, the modern grab bar design we are familiar with today was patented in 1954 by Robert B. White. His innovative design featured a bar that was ribbed to provide a better grip.
Not Just for Bathrooms: While grab bars are commonly associated with bathrooms, they have versatile uses beyond that. Used frequently in public spaces like public restrooms, shopping centers, and healthcare facilities, grab bars provide support and accessibility for people with disabilities.
Grab Bars in Space: Grab bars aren’t just limited to Earth; Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) use grab bars to move around in the microgravity environment. These bars are essential for safety and navigation in the confined space of the ISS.
Multi-Purpose: Grab bars are not only useful for stability and balance; they can also double as towel racks in bathrooms. Manufacturers design modern grab bars with aesthetics in mind, making them look more like towel bars or stylish accessories.
Non-Traditional Materials: While traditional grab bars are made from stainless steel or other metals, some manufacturers now make grab bars from alternative materials such as bamboo or acrylic. These non-traditional materials offer a unique look while still providing necessary support.
Grab Bars for Pets: Some pet owners install grab bars to help their older or disabled pets move around more comfortably. These bars are placed near pet beds, stairs, or entry points to assist pets in getting up or down.
Grab Bars for Water Sports: Grab bars aren’t only for use in bathrooms. In some water sports, such as wakeboarding, wakeboard towers often include grab bars for riders to hold onto for stability and performing tricks.
Overall, grab bars are much more than just functional safety devices; they have a fascinating history and versatile applications in various settings.
originally posted November 8, 2020
updated December 24, 2022