Hi! I’m Blair Gilbert, a.k.a.
As a third-generation hardware store owner, licensed builder, and finish carpenter, my mission is to help you “do it right the first time!” On this site, I share expert home and yard DIY advice in over 250 articles and videos. Feel free to dive in!
- Install bath grab bar and hand held shower in 1 hour for safe bathroom (7/15/2019)
Bathroom showers and bathtubs are a common area for older adult accidents with mobility issues. These are some ways to reduce falls for your parents. Here a few safety additions.
Bath mats, decals and rugs
Some tubs and showers have built-in, non-slip textured floors, but may still be slippery from soap and shampoo. Bath mats that stick to the floor, or the adhesive decals, are cheap and easy to apply. Also, a non-skid rug outside the shower because of wet tiles, not just a towel on the floor. Put in front of the toilet and sink, too.
Shower chairs and transfer bench
Chairs give stability for elders with balance problems or cannot stand too long. Chairs should have rubber tips on the legs.
A transfer bench reduces problems of stepping into the bathtub. They sit on the bench before lifting their legs over the edge, then they sliding over.
Removable hand-held shower head
These are simpler to use while sitting down because you don’t have to move your feet. And they need no tools to install. Add an attachment for the head down-low so it is reachable and not flapping about. Include a weighted shower curtain so the water doesn’t spray outside the shower.
Don’t use towel bars as grab bars because they are not designed for stress or weight.
The grab bar should have a slip-resistant grip surface, not a high gloss finish with a different color than the wall for visibility, and bolted securely, not suction cupped. Thinner bars are available, but a standard 1-1/2 in. dia. shower bar like we’re using is just right for most people’s grip.
The best position to install grab bars is where the elder usually holds onto when entering or exiting the shower. Take into account if the elder will be standing or sitting. Have the person decide the bar placement.
Attach the bar to wood wall studs if possible.
If the shower is fiberglass, must mount the bar into a wall stud. But the space between the fiberglass wall and the stud behind must be supported (filled) or the fiberglass will bend and may crack.
For the hollow walls behind tile with no stud, or they are metal studs, toggle bolts are best.
You’re not done until you yank-test. Give the shower bars a good solid yank to test their holding power. Pull with all your strength to ensure it will hold when needed.
Install a tension pole if you can’t have a grab bar for some reason. It runs from floor to ceiling to give the elder something to hold on to for stability, support and balance.
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