By Paul F Spite


Though it might be difficult to increase the size of bathrooms in existing homes, some added or changed accessories can make them a bit more usable while attempting to age in place. One key component will likely be needed, to provide additional measures of safety to users. These are the support structures, available from many suppliers, termed as ‘grab bars.’

If possible and at a minimum, grab bars should be installed by the toilet and near tubs and showers. Understand that drywall and other finishes will likely need to be removed to first provide backing inside walls. This reinforcing is then used to attach the bars to which a resident can cling, when slipping or stepping in or out of a bath or shower. That reinforcing is critical, as installed grab bars should support up to 300 pounds at any point along them.

Towel rods should never have to be relied upon for support. Attempting to do so will likely result in a destroyed towel bar and an injured occupant.

Stud finders are sold which use various means to locate available studs in a wall, that can be used for attachment of a new grab bar. If such studs cannot be located or are in entirely the wrong location, refer to the included detail. Bars can first be secured to a face plate, made from a length of finished dimensional lumber. Then that face plate can be secured as needed to available studs, with the bar already attached.

Some additional accessories to ease bathroom use are easy to install. Mirrors should be hung at a height and be tall enough to accommodate someone sitting or standing. Installing mirrors that are already angled slightly downward is one way to accomplish that dual use. Install a toilet paper dispenser or holder that makes it possible to restock toilet paper with one hand. Twisting sideways too often on a toilet seat will likely not end well, as the plastic bolts holding the seat in place may shear off. Place towel bars and shower robe hooks very close to where a bather will exit from showers and tubs. Users should not have to stretch and risk falling off balance, to grab their towel or robe. Have storage units or cabinets easily accessible in bathrooms, to hold personal items and supplies for incontinence.

Classes containing information on Renovations to Enable Aging in Place can be accessed at  It can also be found in book form at or in a shorter presentation at  


Bonus Article
Sponsored by Buena Vida Estates, the only Continuing Care Retirement Community in Brevard

(321) 360-4814 • Toll-free (800) 742-0060

Buena Vida Estates