Finding Grab Bars

4 different color grab bars with arm and hand grasping one

By Kathryn Wyeth, MATP Team Leader

In my last post, “Simple Things”, I wrote about finding a toilet paper holder that works as assistive technology. I also mentioned that we put in plywood behind all the walls so we can securely place grab bars now and in the future.

The search for grab bars wasn’t as easy as I optimistically thought it would be.  I was hoping that with the numbers of baby boomers aging and the increase in the numbers of people who stay in their homes, it would be easier to find attractive, color coordinating, affordable, non-medical grab bar options. Maybe the market is better now than in the past, but I think there is room for improvement!

Where to place grab bars is an individual decision. If you are not sure, there are professionals, such as Aging in Place Specialists and Occupational Therapists who can help you. Various places have developed guidelines on placement of grab bars in bathrooms. I found this: “Evaluation of Optimal Bath Grab Bar Placement for Seniors” which may give you some ideas. I also found this pdf document on reinforcing walls for grab bars.

For our shower and by the toilet we found curved grab bars we think will work for us. We like the texture – a vinyl which they claim is “warm to the touch” and it came in colors. We chose biscuit to match the roll-shower base. In the shower, we installed it so it can be a support either standing up or perhaps someday, from a chair or bench. We found a matching straight 30” bar to put on the wall of the shower opposite the shower head. We also added this attractive grab bar solution from Moen. It looks like a nice curved shelf and can function that way to. Plus is was fairly affordable and available off the shelf.

curved grab bar   grab bar with a shelf

My dad used well-sanded pine railings and railing hardware to add a bar to the wall of his bathroom by the toilet. He prefers the look of the wood and it was a very affordable solution for them. There are many other options for grab bars available so you should be able to find solutions which work for you.

I hope the options will continue to grow, diversify, become more colorful and fun and come down more in price! Time will tell if we chose correctly and we are happy we’ve reinforced the walls so we can make changes as we change!

Some Additional Resources

Google Home: Useful Services

4 colorful circles with speech bubble "Hi, how can I help"

Virtual Assistants and home devices are evolving rapidly. Alexa had a sizeable jump on the market and is doing very well with a huge number of “Alexa Skills”. But Google Home also has capabilities that can be of use to people with disabilities and you don’t have to enable them as you do with Alexa. All you have to do is say, “Hey Google, Talk to (Name of Service) or Control (Name of Service)”. The correct command for use is directly below the name of the service

Everything is voice activated, so potentially any service could be useful to our community. The ones I describe below are a sample.

There are a lot of services and you can review them by opening the Home App on your smartphone, tapping the menu in the upper left-hand corner of the app’s home page, and tapping More settings. Services is down the list.

  • CareGeneral: task management and support service specifically designed for home-based care delivery
  • Autovoice: You can run customized voice commands using Tasker with this android app
  • Control Nightingale: Nightingale is the first smart home sleep system designed to ensure better and more restful sleep.
  • Dominos Pizza Order: You can order and track your pizza’s life journey when you have that special hunger
  • Harmony by Logitech: Use Harmony to control your TV with voice, channel changing, volume, play and pause, etc.
  • World Air Quality Index:  How bad is the air around me?

Many services such as information about public transportation is specific to a location, but you might want to try the service, Next Transit to see if there is something around your location.

Obviously, more services will be developed, For more information about the Services available through Google Home, see the Google Home Help page for 3rd party services and apps.There is also a continuously update list of services

Simple Things

by Kathryn Wyeth

Post-it note

Sometimes it is the small things that really can make a difference. There were so many decisions to make in designing our addition and the bathroom was one of the hardest rooms to figure out. Part of the problem was designing for future, unknown needs as we want this house to be where we live as we age.  Yes, I never want to have to leave!

We realized we can’t possibly anticipate every need so did the best we could.  For example, we have 5 feet plus of turning radius and put in plywood behind the drywall so we can put grab bars anywhere we might need them in the future. We installed a comfort height toilet and a roll-in shower with a handheld option for the shower head. We have grab bars that work to meet my husband’s current needs.

toilet paper holder with cardboard inner tube on it However, one option I found was only about $20 (on sale!) and makes just a nice difference every day. It’s the toilet paper holder. Most holders we’ve had in the past were the spring-loaded type. With limited fine motor control in his hands, my husband found these nearly impossible to take on and off. So I’d go in to find an empty roll. Not good.cat standing up tearing toliet paper on with other cat standing on a pile of paper on the floor

We also tried the type of holder which is simply open on one end. That worked, but the roll would get easily knocked off onto the floor and become a cat toy.

After looking and many different options, I found the perfect holder. The bar that goes through the roll pivots up so you can just drop the roll on it, push it back down and ta da, it’s done. No more empty cardboard tubes!

We purchased this one from Kohler, on sale, despite some bad reviews. We’ve been very happy with it.toilet paper holder with motion indicating bar pivots up

Since then also found one from Moen which functions the same way.

person pivoting up the bar on a toilet paper holder

Genius. Sometimes it the simplest things that make me happy!

We are Back, Sort of…

Back in October 2016, our previous blog suddenly disappeared. We had over 3 years of regular posts on a wide variety of Assistive Technology-related topics. Despite having back-ups of all the posts and of the site, we have been unable to successfully recover the site or the articles.  If anyone can help, please let us know!

So for now, we’ve moved to this format. We’ll be updating the format of the site to maximize accessibility. Let us know as we go of any specific issues. We are working on it! The tools are a bit different so we have a bit of a learning curve to climb up.

We’ve missed all of you and have lot’s to say and share. We’ve been saving up ideas for posts! Stay tuned!