Betty was adamant about her son not installing grab bars in her home or bathroom. “I’m not going to a nursing home and I don’t want my home to look like one,” she told her son. “You’re not putting those ugly railings in my house. No!”
Her son Rob was pretty upset. His mother had slipped and fallen several times already, even once while in the shower. When the rescue crew showed up they had to pull her out of the tub, soapy, naked and embarrassed.
“I thought that would convince her to let me have the grab rails installed, but it didn’t,” Rob told me. “She’d rather be embarrassed than have someone think she’s old.”
I nodded. I’d heard it before from other customers. No one wants their home to look like a nursing home or hospital. That’s one reason many people who could benefit from grab bars don’t install them.
The good news is, today’s architects have designed grab bars and aids that don’t look like hospital or institutional railings. They fit into your design scheme, whatever it is.
Many people are surprised to realize upscale hotels also use these same devices to ensure their guests aren’t injured and are protected from slips and falls. Most hotel guests never even notice the grab rail bars and other devices because they blend in so well with the design of the room.
Roll in showers, walk in tubs, safety tile, grab bars, toilets, sinks and kitchen cabinets come in a variety of designs, colors and styles — allowing older adults to age in-home and any age family to stay safer as well.
They make porcelain tiles which are more slip resistant than ceramic. “Porcelain tiles,” says Michael Powers, owner of Powers Construction Group in Lisle, IL, “Let the water seep through, while ceramic tiles let the water build up and are slipperier.”
Michael from Powers Construction Group Inc. started his own business in 1979, at the age of 19 and never looked back. A master carpenter, Michael says he’s always seen a desire for design in homes where people have opted to “age in place,” rather than go into a nursing home or medical facility. His designs have not only pleased his customers, they’ve won him numerous awards. He knows exactly how to redesign to help prevent slips, trips and falls.
“Designs for aging in place have always been popular,” he said. “I don’t tell people what they should have, but I ask them what their challenge or problem is. Together we talk about how to solve the problem.” One client who is in a wheelchair had a challenge navigating corners in her home. The average solution from most contractors was to widen hallways — a major undertaking and expense. Michael came in and just knocked the corners out. “We eliminated the corners without having to hack up anything else on the inside. I keep the inside corner intact, and just eliminate about 5-inches on the outside,” he said. “Now she takes corners easily, without nailing the corners and it looks cool too.”
A lot of time the resistance people have to having grab bars or other safety features is simply because of how they look, not the functionality.
“Ask the person what they want to be able to do first, then design around that,” Michael said. “Sometimes a grab bar isn’t the best solution, and sometimes it is. When it is needed it doesn’t have to be ugly or look like a hospital. Check out Moen and some of the other businesses designing safety features not to look institutional.”
If you, or an elderly client, friend or family member is resisting safety devices because they “look ugly” or remind them of nursing homes, show them some of the new devices, tiles, colors and designs on the market. Remind yourself and others that it’s better to age in a home with grab bars and safety devices than to not have them and slip and fall.
For more information about architecturally designed grab rails and distributors who sell them: