Best Bathtub Safety Rails for the Elderly

best bathtub safety rails for elderly

Quick Picks: Best Bathtub Safety Rails for Elderly Seniors

  •  Drive Medical Clamp-On Adjustable Bath Bar [Best Overall] This stylish bathtub bar features a combination of stability, comfort, and design from innovator Michael Graves. With damage-free easy installation and convenient soap and shampoo dishes, it’s no surprise this is a fan favorite.
  • Parallel Bathtub Grab Bar Safety Rail [Best Budget-Friendly Bath Rail] A solid choice that delivers dependable stability at an affordable price. This bath safety bar has been on the market for years, consistently earning top marks among bathtub safety rail reviews.
  • HealthCraft Dependa-Bar Lower Grab Rail [Most Secure Bathtub Grab Bar] Our top pick for most secure bathtub safety rail, the Dependa-Bar is ADA approved to support the full weight of individuals up to 325 pounds. (rather than just assisting with stability and balance). It’s also unique in that it can be installed near a bed, toilet, in the shower, or anywhere that the installation requirements can be met.

The bathroom is a dangerous place for an elderly individual. Surfaces are often slippery, making falls more common – and the hard bathroom tiles are very unforgiving when you do fall!

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in American elders. They are a very serious concern for seniors, but they aren’t inevitable. The Center for Disease Control recommends a number of things seniors can do to reduce their chance of falling.

One of the main things you can do – the one we will focus on today – is to make your home safer by providing proper safety equipment. Specifically, we’ll talk today about how to make your bathroom safer through the use of bathtub safety rails.

Who Are Bathtub Safety Rails Important For?

When seniors step into a bathtub it can challenge their balance. Choosing the right bathtub rail for elderly can prevent a costly or tragic fall.

A bathtub safety rail is intended for people who need a little assistance with balance while getting in and out of the tub. 

Bathtub rails are not generally meant to bear a user’s entire weight. In most cases, individuals who need more weight support should consider a permanently mounted bath rail instead.

Safety rails are also helpful in supporting stability while seniors engage in any activity that might find them changing position or picking up a foot off the floor in the bathroom.

This might include:

  • Dressing or putting on shoes
  • Undressing or taking off shoes
  • Toweling off after a bath
  • Standing up from the commode
  • Toenail care, applying lotion or performing other footcare

For those seniors who need just a little assistance with stability, a bathtub rail can make a big difference in safety for a pretty low cost.

There are many bathtub rail options available – we’ll help you find the best option for your needs by highlighting some of the best bathtub safety rails for seniors below!

Best Bathtub Safety Bars for Seniors

1. Drive Medical Clamp-On Adjustable Tub Rail

About: The Drive Medical Clamp-On Adjustable Tub Rail was designed by world-renowned architect / designer Michael Grave. This innovative bathtub rail was created with the user’s safety, comfort, and overall bathing experience in mind. 

Best Overall
drive medical clamp tub rail

Drive Medical Clamp-On Tub Rail

A unique & attractive clamp-on tub rail

This colorful, adjustable bathtub rail features an easy-to-grip handle and a bright orange tightening knob

The Drive Medical Tub Rail has been around for years and has consistently garnered praise from users for its durability, comfort, and design.

Its large orange knob can easily be rotated and can be seen by seniors with eyesight impairment. Seniors and caregivers love its unique aesthetic appeal! 

Features:

  • Adjustable height handle
  • Large, easy-grip handle
  • Soft, non-slip handle for comfort and safety
  • Contoured soap and shampoo areas keep items within easy reach
  • The large orange tightening knob is easy for most seniors to see and turn

Product Specifications:

  • Installation Level: Easy. Installs without tools. Slip the base clamp over the side of the bathtub and turn the knob to tighten.
  • Height: Adjustable between 14-17 inches
  • Clamp Width: Adjustable between 3-7 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Material Construction: Steel with soft plastic cover
  • Special Features: Contoured soap and shampoo dish

Pros

  • Won’t scratch or damage tub
  • Large knob is easy for seniors to see and rotate

Cons

  • Works best with straight edge tubs; curved edge tubs may affect tightness of clamp

2. HealthCraft Dependa-Bar Lower Grab Rail

About: The HealthCraft Dependa-Bar Lower Grab Rail offers the sturdiness and weight support of an ADA compliant mounted grab bar along with the additional benefits of its unique pivot and lock design. 

Because it can swivel and lock into five different positions (one every 45 degrees), the HealthCraft Dependa-Bar is always right where you need it to be.

Most Secure
dependa-bar

HealthCraft Dependa-Bar

Swivel, multi-position bathtub grab rail

An extra secure, semi-permanent bath grab bar that locks into five different positions

Seniors up to 325 pounds can feel secure transferring in and out of the bathtub, when standing up from a seated position, or when leaning over in the shower. 

Adjust this bath grab rail’s position as often as needed by easily lifting the rail upward. When you let it down it will lock securely into place.  Simply position out of the way against the wall when not in use.

The HealthCraft Dependa-Bar is also suitable for placement near a toilet or bedside. It can be installed anywhere an elder may require a secure handhold for safe transferring, provided there is room for installation.

It installs like a grab bar, mounting securely to structural studs with three points of contact for supreme stability.

Features:

  • Can be adjusted into 5 different positions
  • Folds out of the way against the wall when not in use
  • Can be installed in the shower, tub, near toilet – or in other areas a grab bar may be needed
  • ADA compliant – meets top safety standards!
  • Reversible – install on either wall

Specifications

  • Installation Level: Difficult / Permanent. Installation requires a drill or screwdriver. Users provide their own screws to match their substrate (so that it can be securely mounted on cement, wood, tile, etc.
  • Height: Unit is 18 inches; it may be installed at various heights
  • Clamp Width: N/A
  • Weight Capacity: 325 pounds
  • Material Construction: Stainless steel
  • Other Dimensions: 5” spacing between rails; 1.5” wall clearance; Extends 20” from the wall
  • Special Features: 5 locking positions

Pros

  • Stainless steel for a long rust and chip free life
  • Can support a senior’s full weight (up to 325 pounds) 
  • Can be used in the shower or bathtub
  • 1 inch bar diameter is easy for arthritic hands to hold onto

Cons

  • Permanent installation is more involved than portable options and can’t be moved without leaving behind damage to wall
  • The price is higher than some other options

3. Ktaxon Safety Shower Handle Grab Bar

About: The Ktaxon Safety Shower Handle Grab Bar is an affordable choice for seniors who need a lightweight portable shower safety handle for a little added balance support.

This simple, comfortable handle adheres to any non-porous flat surface such as glass, tile or acrylic via powerful suction technology. Simply flip the latches downward to lock the handle into place.

Best Portable Bath Grab Bar
portable-shower-grab-bar

Ktaxon Safety Shower Grab Bar

Portable, lightweight shower grab bar for on-the-go use

Features a textured grip and locking suction latches

The Ktaxon Safety Shower Handle Grab Bar is very comfortable to grip. The molded, textured grip provides non-slip security, even when hands are wet. 

The Ktaxon safety rail for bathtubs is easily portable – just flip up the locking latches to release the suction. It is small enough to toss into an overnight bag. It removes easily and will not damage surfaces, so seniors can feel comfortable using it in a hotel room or at a friend or family member’s home. 

Features:

  • Comfortable molded ribbed grip keeps hands from slipping, even when wet 
  • Simple suction cup installation
  • Lightweight and portable

Specifications

  • Installation Level: Easy to install and remove by pushing latches down to lock or up to release.
  • Height: Unit height is 11.42 inches. Install at desired height.
  • Clamp Width: N/A
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Material Construction: Plastic
  • Other Dimensions: Product weight is 12.7 oz
  • Special Features: Molded textured handle. Latches lock and release for quick and easy placement and relocation. Portable.

Pros

  • Does not damage surfaces
  • Low price that’s budget-friendly
  • Very portable, great for taking on vacations or to hotel rooms

Cons

  • Surface must be completely flat and non-porous for suction cups to adhere, so it may not be the best choice for locations with small tiles (less than 4 inches), texture painted walls, etc.

4. Drive Medical Adjustable Bathtub Safety Rail with Clamp on Grip

About: The Drive Medical Adjustable Bathtub Safety Rail with Clamp-On Grip slips over the edge of most bathtubs to provide extra stability and balance assistance for users as they step in and out of the tub. Simply rotate the knob to tighten it securely into place. 

Best Clamp On Design
drive-clamp-on-rail

Drive Medical Adjustable Rail w/ Clamp On Grip

Clamp-style bath rail with tightening knob

Ergonomic bath rail made from recycled plastic

This Drive Medical bathtub handrail is constructed from a durable recycled plastic material. It is easy to clean and will stand up well to moisture. Because it’s recycled it is better for the environment as a bonus! 

Like all clamp-on bars, this handrail is intended to provide assistance with balance, not bear the user’s full weight. 

The manufacturer advises buyers to use extreme care to prevent damage if installing on fiberglass tubs. Do NOT overtighten. Most clamp-on rails state they are not intended for use on fiberglass tubs due to risk of damaging the tub. 

If you have a fiberglass tub, it may be a safer bet to opt with a different model altogether, such as a suction-based handle.

Features:

  • Ergonomically designed for safe, comfortable grip
  • Adjust the width to fit almost any standard bathtub
  • Made from durable recycled plastic

 Specifications

  • Installation Level: Easy. No tools required. Simply slip it over the edge of a bathtub and rotate the knob to adjust the width
  • Height: 16.5 inches
  • Clamp Width: Adjustable between 3 – 6.25 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Material Construction: Durable recycled plastic
  • Other Dimensions: N/A
  • Special Features: Ergonomically designed handle 

Pros

  • Slip on installation is easy, quick and requires no tools
  • Fits most bathtubs

Cons

  • It may be difficult for elders with arthritis to rotate the knob enough to tighten it
  • May require periodic retightening

5. Parallel Bathtub Grab Bar Safety Rail

About: This Parallel Bathtub Grab Bar Safety Rail by Drive Medical has been impressing users for years with its stability and durability. The grab bar runs parallel to the shower wall, providing a comfortable and secure handhold. 

Best Budget Bathtub Grab Bar
non-adjustable-clamp-tub-rail

Parallel Bathtub Grab Bar Safety Rail

Sturdy, stainless-steel bathtub grab bar

An adjustable, clamp-design tub rail that’s durable and secures via a tightening knob

This bathtub safety bar is designed to install easily onto most standard bathtubs. It slides over the edge of almost any bathtub and clamps securely into place. Wear-resistant rubber pads protect the bathtub and ensure a strong and slip-free fit for the long term. 

The Parallel Bathtub Grab Bar Safety Rail is constructed from stainless steel for excellent durability. It’s coated in white powder for an aesthetically pleasing and easy to clean finish.

Many users have been pleased to find it nicely doubles as an assist while standing from a raised toilet seat – depending on their bathroom layout, of course.

Please note that this bathtub safety rail is NOT for use with fiberglass tubs.

Features:

  • Adjustable height
  • Adjustable width clamp to fit most tubs
  • Rubber padding on contact points prevents damage and ensures a secure fit
  • Installs easily without tools by tightening a knob

Specifications

  • Installation Level: Easy tool-free installation. Slip the bath safety bar over the edge of the bathtub and turn the knob to tighten and secure.
  • Height: Adjustable between 14 – 17 inches
  • Clamp Width: Adjustable between 3 – 7 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Material Construction: Coated stainless steel
  • Other Dimensions: N/A
  • Special Features: Wear resistant rubber pads prevent damage to run and enhance the secure fit

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Will not rust or corrode
  • Easy tool-free installation
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Not for use with fiberglass bathtubs
  • Won’t work in showers without a tub

6. Ktaxon Adjustable Height Bathtub Grab Bar

About: The Ktaxon Adjustable Height Bathtub Grab Bar has a comfortable anti-slip foam covering for a safe and comfortable grip. Its steel construction and excellent craftsmanship lend to its durability and dependability.

Best Hand Grip
ktaxon-bathtub-bar

Ktaxon Adjustable Heigh Bathtub Grab Bar

Anti-slip foam padding for security and comfort

This clamp-style grab bar features soft foam padding to help prevent slipping due to a compromised grip

The Ktaxon Adjustable Height Bathtub Grab Bar is easy to place – and to remove without a trace. The powder-coated steel will not rust or corrode. Wear-resistant rubber pads ensure the bar will not scratch or damage bathtubs. 

This safety bar uses a stainless steel locking mechanism to ensure its fit remains tight and secure.

Features:

  • Adjustable height
  • Anti-slip foam covering for safety and comfort
  • Fits most bathtubs
  • Easy slip over and clamp installation
  • Stainless steel locking mechanism to ensure secure fit

Specifications

  • Installation Level: Easy. Tool-free. Simply slip the assist bar over the edge of the bathtub, rotate the knob to adjust width until tight.
  • Height: Adjustable between 14 – 17 inches
  • Clamp Width: Adjustable between 3 – 7 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Material Construction: Powder coated steel, foam, rubberl
  • Other Dimensions: N/A
  • Special Features: High density foam grip covering, wear-resistant rubber padding to protect tub from scratches

Pros

  • Easy to install and remove without tools
  • Will not damage tub when properly installed (not to be used on fiberglass)

Cons

  • Not for fiberglass bathtubs
  • Not to be used to support someone’s entire weight
  • Cannot use in tub-less showers
  • Can’t be used for support in the shower as it is outside of the curtain.

Features to Consider in a Bathtub Rail for Elderly Individuals

Bathtub bars are used by a large range of people, from children to adults. They come in a variety of heights, weight capacities, materials and designs, so it’s important to ensure that you find the right combination for the unique needs of the elder you’re shopping for.

Height Adjustment

Having the right height for the intended user is important for comfort and safety as well. If the bar is at an improper height it could affect its stability, or the balance of the senior as they reach for it. 

To make sure you are installing the bathtub safety rail at the appropriate height, it’s best to have the seniors practice the actions they will perform while using it, and adjust the installation height accordingly so that the individual can easily and comfortably access it.

Consider how the grab bar will be used in conjunction with other bathtub items, such as handheld shower heads, shower chairs, soap containers, shampoo dispensers, etc. Be sure the individual can use the bath bar to help them access or navigate any necessary items.

Grip 

The area that the user will hold onto the bar is important to consider. Will the handle or grip area become slippery when wet? Will it be hard for arthritic hands to grip?

Ergonomically designed grips are those that have been specifically engineered for safe, efficient and comfortable interaction with the human body – definitely a good feature! 

Arthritic hands often prefer a gripping diameter of about one inch. Most safety bars vary in diameter from about 1 – 1.5 inches. Find the most comfortable diameter for your grip by trying various cardboard rolls from aluminum foil or paper towels.

Positioning, Options and Shape

Ask yourself these questions as you consider the best bathtub safety rail for your special senior’s particular needs.

  • Will the rail need to be portable? 
  • Will there be a need to take it along while traveling or use it in multiple locations?
  • Will there be a need to remove it for storage or after a period of time?
  • How long do you intend to use the rail?

If you expect it to be used for years, investing in durable, rust-free materials and construction can be well worth any higher up front costs over a piece that will lose stability or need to be replaced.

Weight Capacity

What is the weight of the elder who will be using the bathtub handrail? 

Many safety rails for bathtubs list a weight capacity of 300 pounds, but are not intended to support the full weight of the user.  Choose a rail with a weight capacity well over the elder’s actual weight.

How much support does the senior need?

Can they simply touch the bar for a bit of assistance with balance and stabilization? Or will they need to pull on the rail in order to stand up? If the individual needs more than just light balance support, a more long-term, permanent installation will be preferable for increased stability and security.

Consider the elder’s current needs, as well as what you think their needs may be in the foreseeable future. 

Color, Style & Design

Does color, style or design matter to the senior who will be using this rail? Some people are bothered by safety rails that look too “medical” or out of place.

Bathtub Safety Rail Installation

Most bathtub safety rails simply clamp on to the edge of the bathtub. Many accommodate a range of bathtub widths, so be sure to measure the edge of your tub before making a purchase.

Note that if the bathtub is curved it may affect how securely the clamp can grip the tub, and therefore how safe it is.

Some safety bars are designed to be installed on the wall inside or outside the shower area. 

Check the instructions carefully to ensure that installation is done correctly. Improper installation can lead to damage to the tub or walls. Worse, if an elder grips the bar for stability and it comes loose, it can lead to a fall with serious injury.

Types of Bathtub Rails for Elderly

Suction Technology

Many portable hand bars adhere to the shower wall surface using suction cups. If installed properly these can be quite secure, although they do tend to be less secure than other methods.

They are not intended to support a user’s entire weight – only to offer a bit of assistance with balance.

Suction based hand bars adhere well to any completely flat surface including glass and acrylic.

Larger tiles are fine, provided the suction cup doesn’t cross a grout line. Four inch tiles are usually large enough, but check the particular product to be sure. Textured paint can also interfere with a secure latch since it isn’t completely flat.

Be sure the surface is completely clean and free from soapy residue before installation.

Suction based hand bars are typically lightweight, portable and easy to place and remove. Some feature latches to enhance the suction power.

Clamp-On Models

Clamp-on bathtub rails are almost as easy to install as suction-based models. 

They typically slip over the edge of the bathtub. There is often a knob to tighten the clamp into place over the tub wall.

It’s always important to check the tub dimensions to ensure the clamp-on rail will fit your particular bathtub. 

Curved bathtubs can interfere with the clamp stability, so pay extra attention to that if your tub is curved. Some clamp-ons do accommodate some level of curve, but it may be a good idea to investigate other options as well. Suction-cup or wall-mounted options may be better suited to your needs.

Wall-Mounted Rails

Individuals who require full body weight support, or who need to pull on a rail to stand up, will need a wall-mounted rail.

Wall-mounted rails tend to be the most secure but the installation is the most involved. These are permanently installed rails which are screwed into studs in the wall. Mounted bath rails cannot be removed without leaving damage to the wall.

grab bar handles

The installation is not challenging for those with the basic know-how and comfort to work with screwdrivers, hand drills and wall studs.

However, if you aren’t confident in your ability, you should get someone who is to complete the installation. Mounting these rails incorrectly can easily cause damage to the walls and injury to the person using them. 

What is the best bathtub safety rail for fiberglass tub?

Fiberglass bathtubs can easily be broken and so they are not recommended for use with most clamp-on hand bars.

In fact, most models of clamp-on hand bars flat out state they are not intended for use on fiberglass tubs, period. However, there are some models, like the Drive Medical Adjustable Bathtub Safety Rail with Clamp on Grip, that simply caution users to be very careful while installing on fiberglass. 

So, depending on your situation, it may be worth the risk… or it may be preferable to go with a different style of bathtub handrail. 

A suction-based handle, like the Ktaxon Safety Shower Handle Grab Bar can stick nicely to any completely flat surface, including fiberglass. It is a low cost and portable option.
Alternatively, the HealthCraft Dependa-Bar Lower Grab Rail, offers excellent stability and weight support. It is permanently installed into studs in the wall.

Does Medicare Cover Bathtub Rails?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not usually cover bathtub rails, although there may be rare exceptions

Luckily, most bathtub bars for seniors aren’t too costly. Even the more expensive ones don’t come near the cost of a single trip to the emergency room.

Have you ever used these senior bath bars in your home or a loved ones home? Have you used a different model? How have the bath bars improved you or your loved one’s life? Share your stories in the comments below!

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