The Best Locations For Grab Bars In The Shower (And Why)

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

For maximum shower safety, the best locations for shower grab bars are at the entry, near the faucets, and across the long wall. A possible fourth location is across the back wall.

Best Locations For Grab Bars In The Shower
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Bathrooms can become harder to navigate with advanced age. When strength and balance become an issue due to old age, getting out of the shower can become challenging.

Fortunately, you can use strategically positioned grab bars to make your bathroom/shower safer for your elderly loved one.

An important part of choosing the best shower grab bars for seniors and the elderly is knowing where you will put them. This guide will help you figure that out.

Why Do You Need Grab Bars In The Shower?

Showering can be pretty risky for people with limited mobility and strength. For starters, the wet surfaces present a severe risk of slipping and falling.

Another issue is stepping up and over a tub edge when entering or exiting the shower. Even many shower stalls have a four or five-inch high curb at the bottom of the door.

The danger is more pronounced when it comes to bathtub-shower combinations, as the side of most tubs is at least 18 inches high.

These factors combine to create a challenging situation for people suffering from deteriorating physical balance and strength. You can use grab bars to mitigate the risk involved and enhance the independence of your elderly loved one.

What Are Grab Bars?

Also known as wall bars and grab handles, grab bars are simple safety devices designed to help a person maintain balance and reduce fatigue when standing.

They also give users something to hold on to for support in a slip or fall. Another use for grab bars is to help users redistribute their weight when maneuvering.

All in all, seniors can use grab bars to enhance safety in a home by providing a firm and stable place to hold onto during risky maneuvers. Caregivers can use grab bars to help transfer a patient from one place to the next.

best locations for grab bars in the shower CDC
The CDC recommends the installation of grab bars in the bathroom to help reduce injuries.

CDC Recommendations On Grab Bar Installation

Every year, more than 230,000 non-fatal bathroom injuries are treated in emergency rooms among people over the age of 15, according to a published CDC report. The rate of injuries increases with age.

According to the same report, the CDC recommended that environmental modifications, like the installation of grab bars in showers and around the tub, can help reduce injuries by providing added support and stability, especially in slips and falls.

Where To Install Grab Bars In The Shower

Shower Stalls

You should install at least three grab bars in a traditional shower stall at different positions. Shower grab bars can be installed horizontally, vertically, or even angled, depending on their use.

You should install the first grab bar just inside the shower stall door jamb in a vertical position. This bar provides support when entering and exiting the shower. In most cases, a shorter (18 or 24-inch long) grab bar will do.

Install another grab bar on the opposite shower wall in a horizontal position. This bar will provide support inside the shower in case of slips or falls.

It should attach at a point between 33 and 36 inches from the shower floor. A 24, 30, or 36-inch grab bar is usually sufficient in this area.

Lastly, install the third bar horizontally on the faucet wall, close to the faucet handles. This bar should also be about 33 to 36 inches from the floor.

This way, your elderly loved one will have something to hold onto for support when reaching for the faucets. Use a 24, 30, or 36-inch bar, depending on the width of the shower.

Optionally, you could install another grab bar on the back shower wall as an additional safety measure to provide support in the rear of the shower.

Install this one horizontally at the same level as the other horizontal bars. Again, choose a 24, 30, or 36-inch bar, depending on the width of your shower.

With these grab bars properly installed, you can be sure that your elderly loved ones will have all the support they need to ensure safe use of the shower.

best locations for grab bars in the shower bathtub-shower
The most suitable placement of grab bars differs if you have a bathtub-shower combo.

Bathtub-Shower Combo

If you have a bathtub-shower combo, the best placement of the grab bars varies. You should install the vertical entrance bar discussed above on the wall opposite the faucets because people generally enter from the rear.

Next, you should install the horizontal bar along the side wall, about 30 inches from the tub floor. This bar should be as long as possible so the user can hold onto it while they walk the length of the tub. Lastly, install another vertical bar on the wall next to the faucets.

Conclusion

Grab bars are an invaluable tool to make your bathroom/shower safer for seniors/individuals with mobility issues. These grab bars should be strategically positioned in and around the shower area for the utmost safety, as outlined above.

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Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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