How I Learned to Love My Grab Bars – Next Avenue
Some people may have a negative bias towards home accessibility accessories, but they can make it easier to age in place
“I love grab bars even though I am not old,” said my 60-year-old fiancé when we found our one-level condo, meant to be our forever home. I recoiled.
It turns out I am not the only one hesitant to live in a home with chrome grab bars in the bathroom. In a 2021 Cleveland Clinic article, geriatric specialist Ami Hall reveals why people do not want grab bars. They are either in denial that they need them or “embarrassed and feel like there’s [negative bias].”
The grab bar is a longstanding purposeful accessory, particularly in the bathroom. Often its necessity comes to light when a towel rack is used as a substitute, and an accident occurs | Credit: Getty
Wondering if others feel the way I do about products to help with accessibility at home, I sought out advice from three occupational therapy colleagues who work directly with consumers who could benefit from mobility and safety devices: Daniel Elliot of Long Beach, New York, Director of Partnerships for Jukebox Health; Dr. Carol Siebert of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, owner of The Home Remedy; and Susanne Giannitti, of Norwalk, Connecticut, clinical lead on a subacute rehab unit at The Carolton Chronic and Convalescent Hospital.
Although the client did not say anything about aging, Siebert sensed the bias. The real estate agent said the grab bar was “a desirable amenity.”
Over time, all have learned strategies to help consumers transcend [negative bias] and attitudinal barriers for the sake of safety and functionality.
The Benefits of Grab Bars
The grab bar is a longstanding purposeful accessory, particularly in the bathroom. Often its necessity comes to light when a towel rack is used as a substitute, and an accident occurs. Elliot points out that now many manufacturers have come out with colorful grab bars and others “that do not look like grab bars or are dual-purpose,” such as toilet paper holders or towel rack grab bars that blend in while still serving their intended purpose.
Siebert once recommended a grab bar that matched the decor of a client’s bathroom in a valuable historic house. The client first consulted her real estate agent to see if grab bars would affect her home’s resale value. Although the client did not say anything about aging, Siebert sensed the bias. The real estate agent said the grab bar was “a desirable amenity.”
Bedside commodes are often met with a negative bias, even though Medicare will cover the cost when deemed medically necessary. Inevitably some people acquiesce to its use usually out of absolute necessity, which is especially the case for those living alone.
Siebert shares a story she read in the “OT Practice” publication about Susan Bachner, an occupational therapist, and her client, a gentleman who needed a commode. With a home full of …….