Healthier Living | Child Safety | Eco Friendly Tips

Grab Bars Reduce Falls for Elderly and Others When Installed in Bathrooms

by Barbara 1. July 2012 07:56

Question about standard and ADA grab bars types and installation.

Q: "My mother is sometimes unsteady on her feet. We have installed a Locked toilet seat riser. Now we are looking for grab bars to install in her bathtub shower combination and along side the toilet. What are some of our options? Thanks. Mary."

Answer: According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for grab bars near toilets are:

For commercial projects, ANSI 117.1 requires three grab bars:

  1. a 36" horizontal grab bar behind the toilet, starting 12" from the corner. The bar should be mounted at 33-36" above the floor.
  2. a 42" horizontal grab bar on the side wall, starting 12" from the corner
  3. an 18" vertical grab bar 39 to 40" from the corner, starting 39 to 41" above the floor.

Until recently, most jurisdictions required only two horizontal grab bars. Some regulations now require all three bars. For home use, you have more flexibility in how and where grab bars are placed.

Home grab bar installations can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal.

1. Vertical grab bars  (straight up or down).  Have a handyman or carpenter install grab bars into studs or use anchoring devices.  A shorter vertical bar mounted at the tub or shower entrance helps the person to enter or exit without losing their balance and falling..  Two more grab bars in the shower or tub let the person rise from the tub or bath chair or give more stability when the person is washing herself or himself. Usually the grab bars are 12, 16 or 18 inches long. We also sell Lumex Chrome Grab Bars - 32 Inch, Knurled that have better gripping surface and have a 250 lb. weight capacity. Save if you need several by buying the Chrome Grab Bars, 32 In Knurled, 3/CS by Medline.  For those with glass sliding tub doors, the grab bars offer a secure way to regain balance.  In order to install this grab bar for my mother, the handyman had to remove the 1950's glass sliding doors as the door track interfered with the mounting.

2. Horizontal handicap grab bars. This installation gives the option of using the grab bar as a towel bar, too.  Typcially wall studs are 16 inches apart on center. If you examine other exposed areas of your home, you can determine more accurately where the centers are in the studs. Otherwise use a hollow wall anchor system available at hardware stores.  That is why 16 inch, 32 inch and 48 inch grab bars are most common.

3. Diagonal  installed. At the side of my Mom's toilet, there is a diagonally installed 32 inch grab bar. Installation may be more difficult. The positives are that grabbing a diagononal bar puts less stress on one's wrist. If installed in a shower, the diagonal bar is preferred by those who face only the shower head.  The horizontal bar has can be used facing forward or backward but the height if obviously the same no matter where one grabs.

Grab bars are  measured from the center of one flange (the round area that conceals the screws) to the center of the other flange. The flange covers typically measure about 1.5 inches on either side of the grab bar. So add three inches to the total length of the grab bar you need.

Safe Home sells quality grab bars from Lumex (Graham Field Health Products) and Medline Industries. Most are sold in packages of 3, all the same size. Lumex has individual packages as well. Your material/color choices include Chrome plated, White enamel over steel and Nickel Plated Steel. ADA compliant grab bars include the Carex brand from Medline in 12, 16, 18, and 24 inch sizes. Additional lengths are available. Just send us an email if your grab bars must be compliant with ADA.

Safe Home also advises that you treat ceramic flooring and porcelain bathtubs to reduce the risks of slip and fall accidents. Both are slippery when wet. GripOn is easily applied by anyone who can use a mop and a bucket. Us of Grip On anti-slip treatment also means no need for suction cup bath tub mats!

Thank you for your question. Please look at the options on and email any questions to or phone us at 877-358-0900.

Need for Oximeter for Elderly Mom with Congestive Heart Failure to Justify 24/7 Oxygen

by Barbara 28. December 2010 09:16

Question about the Medline Digital Finger Oximeter, Black.

Question: "My mother is 89 years old and has congestive heart failure. She wore a 24 hour oxygen monitor a few weeks ago. The result was a non-portable oxygen unit so she can get supplemental oxygen at night. Her daytime reading was 90% and her night readings averaged 80%. Despite her age, Mom's mind is very good except now from mid-morning on you can see the deterioration. Sometimes her heart races. She says she had her first anxiety attack of her life: Gail and I feel it is that her heart is struggling due to the congestion.  I live over a thousand miles away but will be at her home for the rest of the week. Would this be something that her home care helper could use to help justify with her doctor her need for a portable tank on her wheelchair during the day? She has been told to use oxygen as she needs it! The tank is in the living room where she sleeps in a recliner during the night and naps. Thanks, Your brother Jim.

Answer: Yes, Jim, this unit is what she needs and it should arrive in two days from Medline. This oximeter unit is reasonably priced, easy to use and gives accurate readings. I know you have already contacted her physician about what is happening to Mom.  I've ordered this oximeter that should arrive in another day. When I spoke with Mom two days ago, I knew then something was wrong because she seemed confused. She's been complaining about fatigue for months. I was wrong in believing that this was depression or age. Obviously Mom needed someone to actively be her advocate as her doctor did not see the whole picture.

We do sell several other oximeters which would work equally well. Most are hospital grade units, though. For example,John Bunn DIGI O2 Finger Pulse Oximeter JB02007, the John Bunn DigiOx Finger Pulse Oximeter Model JB02008 which costs a little less than the Medline unit referenced in your question, the Medline Digital Finger Oximeter, Yellow and the Medline Handheld Pulse Oximeter which is personal computer and printer compatible.

This oximeter as other finger pulse oximeters gives SPO2, pulse rate and pulse strength readings. SpO2 numbers give you the amount of oxygen attached to the hemoglobin cells (red blood cells) in your body or the saturation of oxygen in your red blood cells.. Normal is 96%.

I've done more internet reading about what is normal for oxygen levels and will share this with my readers.

HeartFailureSolutions.Com gives this list which covers part of Mom's symptoms:

"Watch for the following signs:

  • water retention (especially feet/ ankles)
  • shortness of breath/ difficulty breathing
  • extreme fatigue
  • chest tightness
  • mental confusion/ short-term-memory loss
  • tingling fingers
  • chronic cough
  • blue coloring around lips
  • waking at night gasping for breath

Your body requires 92% blood oxygen saturation or above.  There is no getting around your oxygen requirement.

If you ignore you rlow oxygen level, you will lose your eye sight, short term memory, and your strength and stamina.  The progressive weakening of your heart muscle will contribute to your heart failure."

Thanks for being there, Jim and Gail. I know Gail went through similar issues about supplemental oxygen for her late mom: she shared that she needed to buy an oximeter to present her case for 24/7 portable oxygen for her mom

Love you!




Sheepskin Shearling Wool Pelt Underlay vs Mediwool for Invalids

by Barbara 5. April 2009 00:55

Question about the products GF-1816 Sheepskin Shearling Wool Pelt and SF-MW-115 MediWool Wool Mattress Pad, 36 x 48 inch Draw Sheets

Q: "My mom spends most of her day in bed due to health problems. We have the alternating pressure mattress. Someone suggested we get a sheepskin wool pelt for additional comfort. I cannot decide between the Mediwool mattress pad and the wool pelt. Can you help by explaining the pros and cons?" Thanks, Sara

Answer: The G F Health Products deluxe wool pelt is 3/4 inch thick and is the actual sheepskin pelt. The total size is 6 to 7 square feet and the shape is that of a sheep, narrow at the top and wider at the bottom. The pelt is washable. Many people prefer the natural pelt. There is a Medicare Code for this product: HCPCS Code: E0189 so you can apply for reimbursement if applicable.

The 36 by 48 inch MediWool™ pad is 12 square feet. MediWool™ mattress pads are made of one-inch, 100% lambswool pile with draw sheets to hold them in place. There are many sizes available, twin, full, queen, etc. You can sleep directly on the pad or cover it with a sheet.

MediWool™ is the trademark of the soft, pure, fleece pads which are fully washable one-inch deep pile lambswool imported from Australia and New Zealand and made in the USA. The wool is hygienically scoured and treated to allow frequent machine washing and drying. The backed fleece retains all of the natural qualities of sheepskin (including absorption of moisture vapor, softness and cushioning) without requiring that the animal give its life. These products are especially versatile due to their ease of washability, unlike the sheepskin which dries out and cracks.

Thank you for your question.