Safety. Independence. Dignity. How do you put a price tag on some of the most important things imaginable to the quality of life for older adults?
Fortunately, it doesn’t always have to be a big investment. Considering all they provide, transfer poles are relatively inexpensive – often less than a couple hundred dollars. Finding the right supportive equipment like a transfer pole can make a tremendous difference in a senior’s life.
We’ve taken a close look at all the transfer pole options, and have narrowed down the selection to a few of the best transfer poles for the elderly.
We’ll kick off the article by going over how a transfer pole is used, followed by a review of several top transfer pole choices in a number of categories so that you can find just what you need for your own unique situation.
Then we’ll conclude with some helpful information you’ll appreciate knowing as you select the best security pole for your senior and their specific situation.
What Exactly is a Transfer Pole?
Sometimes referred to as a security pole, a transfer pole runs from floor to ceiling, and provides seniors with something sturdy to hold onto while changing from one position to another – also known as “transferring”.
A transfer pole is most often situated near the bed, toilet, or favorite chair, but it can also be used near the shower, or other places where a senior may need something sturdy to hold on to.
Transfer poles offer many of the same benefits as grab bars, but are generally less expensive, easier to install, and can be installed in many places where traditional grab bars can’t – like the middle of a room!
A transfer pole can:
- Reduce the risk of a senior falling
- Protect family members or caregivers from injury by reducing the physical demand of helping up an elder
- Increase a senior’s independence by reducing the need for assistance from others.
A transfer pole can even – in some cases – eliminate the need for assistance with personal hygiene needs, helping to protect a senior’s sense of pride and dignity.
1. Stander Security Pole and Curve Grab Bar
The Stander Security Pole and Curve Grab Bar features a unique double-rounded handhold that increases ease and comfort for seniors as they grip the bar and pull themselves up with a natural, hand-over-hand motion.
- Curved double grab bar handle offers 4 different hand grips
- Handle rotates and locks every 45º
- Easy to install and relocate if needed
- Rust resistant
The Stander’s unique curved grab bar provides multiple options for grip. Its horizontal bars can be easier for seniors with wrist weakness to grasp, although its lack of padded grip may not be comfortable for seniors with painful, arthritic hands.
The Stander’s slim design means you can place it in the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, or living room – anywhere in the home with flat ceilings between 7 and 10 feet tall. Because it’s rust-resistant, it can even be placed in a steamy bathroom without worry!
Because the Stander’s handle rotates, it’s able to pull double duty! For example, you can place it in between the bathtub and toilet, and reposition the bar easily, based on where you need it in the moment. Simply raise the grab bar to unlock, rotate, and release it into a locked position, which is available every 45º.
Weighing only 20 pounds, the Stander is easy to install for most able-bodied seniors. It requires some tightening to create enough tension between the floor and ceiling to keep it in place. A wrench is included, and no other tools are needed for installation. Optional screws come included in case you’d like to install it permanently.
Its padded top and bottom protect the ceiling and floors from marks or damage. Some seniors opt to take this handy bar along with them when traveling. It breaks down into two pieces, each 53 inches in length.
- Weight: 20 pounds
- Installation: Tension mounted, no tools required beyond the wrench that comes included
- Weight Capacity: 300 pound
- Additional Hardware Required: none (optional screws included for permanent installation)
- Ceiling Types: Flat, 7-10 feet
- Pole Height: 7-10 feet (separates into two 53 inch halves for storage or travel)
- Colors / Styles: Iceberg white or metallic black
- Grip / Handle: Double-curve
- Sturdy, vacuum insulated water bottle keeps liquids cool
- Includes a leak-proof lid and a straw lid
- Comes in several sizes depending on hydration goals
- Water bottle can weigh 1 lb or more, so may be too heavy for many to manuever (although if kept at an appropriate height, the built-in straw may negate the need to lift the bottle).
2. Stander Security Pole with Padded Grip
The Stander Security Pole with Padded Grip is a price-conscious option with a slim footprint that allows this transfer pole to squeeze into tight spaces. It also features a very nice 24-inch foam cushioned grip, which promotes a comfortable, non-slip grasp for seniors with sore hands.
- Foam cushioned grip
- Easy installation
- Slim design
The tension-mounted Stander is easy to install without damage to the ceiling or floor, thanks to rubber pads that protect the top and bottom plates.
Screws are included, in case permanent installation is preferred, but it’s not required. The Stander installs quickly in minutes using just the included wrench, and it can disassemble easily for travel or relocation.
- Weight: 17 pounds
- Installation: Tension mounted
- Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
- Additional Hardware Required: none
- Ceiling Types: Flat
- Pole Height: Adjusts from 7-10 feet
- Colors / Styles: Iceberg white, metallic black
- Grip / Handle: Padded
- Padded grip is more comfortable for seniors with sore, arthritic hands to grip
- Budget-friendly pricing
- Not for use inside showers or tubs
- Not for use on vaulted or slanted ceilings
- No horizontal grip option
3. Healthcraft SuperPole with SuperBar
The Healthcraft SuperPole features a unique pivoting horizontal bar that locks into five different positions. This SuperBar, as it’s called, provides additional grip options and increases weight bearing support for seniors. The bar’s foam padding protects sore hands and contributes to its non-slip security.
- Meets ADA recommendations for rail diameter (1.5 inch) and structural strength
- Bar rotates and locks in five positions
- Adjustable height bar
- Padded foam grip
The SuperBar easily lifts upward to unlock. Move into position, and lower it to lock securely in place every 45º. The SuperBar is 16 inches in length, and its height from the floor can be adjusted from 24-38 inches.
Because of the slight slant to shower floor surfaces, the SuperPole can’t be secured directly inside a shower, but it can be placed just outside. The horizontal grab bar provides more support than a vertical bar, which really comes in handy when stepping in and out of the shower – especially because it can be positioned to extend into the shower stall.
For use near a shower, the SuperPole should ideally be rust-resistant – but, unfortunately, it isn’t. Still, it’s made from steel alloy and is coated with an antimicrobial white-powder finish, which repels water and does seem to reduce rust. Many seniors have been able to use the SuperPole for shower support, but if you do, keep an eye out for potential rust development.
Because the horizontal bar can be adjusted at will, it can easily flip from shower support to toilet grab bar with a quick adjustment.
The SuperPole installs by adjusting a jackscrew. It’s held firmly into place with tension, leaving no damage to the ceiling or floor. It is designed for use only with standard 8-foot ceilings.
- Weight: 24 pounds
- Installation: Tension-mounted
- Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
- Additional Hardware Required: none
- Ceiling Types: flat
- Pole Height: 8 feet
- Colors / Styles: White with grey foam padding
- Grip / Handle: Non-latex foam padding on both horizontal and vertical bar handholds
- SuperBar provides additional grip options
- Foam padded handholds for increased comfort
- Transfer pole installation may be challenging without assistance
- Height is not adjustable – for use with 8 foot ceilings only
- May not be fully rust resistant
4. Signature Life Sure Stand Pole
The Signature Life Sure Stand Pole is our choice for overall best pick in large part due to its rich array of optional add-ons, which ensure a custom experience to meet each individual’s needs. It’s also one of the few transfer poles compatible with a vaulted ceiling.
Its comfortable padding and elegant color choices are just icing on the cake!
- Multiple optional add-on accessories available
- Can be used on slanted ceilings
- Comfortable padded handle
- 2 elegant color choices
- Rust resistant
Place this Sure Stand Pole near the bathtub to enhance stability for seniors stepping in and out of the tub. Position it near the toilet, bed or favorite living room chair for a sturdy handhold anywhere you need it.
The Signature Life pole can even be used on vaulted ceilings – a real rarity for transfer poles. If it’s installed on a ceiling with any slant at all, it must be secured at both the floor and ceiling level using the included hardware. If the ceiling is completely flat, tension mounting is plenty secure.
Signature Life sells an impressive array of helpful accessories, which come in coordinating color choices for an attractive, modern appearance. Some of the optional add-ons include:
- Curved hand grips
- Trapeze grab bar
- Original grab bar
- Swiveling Tray
- Extended horizontal grab bar
- Extension piece for ceilings 10-12 feet in height
Let’s take a closer look at a few of these options.
Curved Hand Grips
The curved hand grips actually come included with the Sure Stand Pole in this special listing. Choose the “Sure Stand Straight Pole” option if you don’t want them for any reason.
Each of the two curved padded hand grips can be attached at any height or position, 360º around the pole. The handles offer easy-to-grasp, comfortable, horizontal handholds in exactly the right spots for your exact needs. Customizing their position allows you to create excellent leverage to aid in standing or balance support.
Horizontal Grab Bar Accessory
Signature Life’s Horizontal Grab Bar Accessory is a handy and cost effective way to create a sturdy, 50-inch grab bar anywhere in the home. Attach between the wall and a Sure Stand Pole, or between two Sure Stand Poles for a free standing grab bar anywhere you need it.
Because traditional grab bars must be carefully installed into wall studs, their placement is limited, and installation tends to be expensive or cumbersome. Signature Life offers a nice alternative with this accessory.
Swivel Tray Accessory
The Swivel Tray Accessory can be attached to the Sure Stand Pole, rotating a full 360º around it, to provide easy access from your bed or favorite chair.
The bamboo tray looks lovely and is also naturally water-resistant. It measures 15.75 inches in diameter, and can support up to 30 pounds – plenty to hold your laptop, handiwork, hot coffee or full meal.
- Weight: 16.5 pounds
- Installation: Tension mounted
- Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
- Additional Hardware Required: Use included hardware for mounting on a slanted ceiling (none required for flat ceilings)
- Ceiling Types: Flat or vaulted
- Pole Height: 7- 10 feet (12 feet, with transfer pole extension piece)
- Colors / Styles: Choose from Deep Bronze or Graphite
- Grip / Handle: Padded, optional grab bar accessories available
- Many optional accessories for custom fit, function and comfort
- Compatible with vaulted ceilings up to 12 feet high
- Higher end of cost spectrum
5. Able Life Stand Assist Safety Handle with Adjustable Laptop Table
While not a floor-to-ceiling transfer pole, the unique Able Life Stand Assist Safety Handle deserves a mention in our lineup thanks to its sturdy support and highly functional tray table.
It offers seniors a lovely, durable and budget-friendly alternative to a traditional transfer pole with tray.
- Fits under most recliners, living room chairs and sofas
- Attractive, durable bamboo tray cover
- Built-in cup holder and utensil tray
- Adjustable height
The Able Life Stand Assist Safety Handle is intended to be used underneath most sofas, recliners or other large chairs. It’s not intended for freestanding use.
It’s important that the sofa or chair’s front and back legs measure anywhere from 20 to 36 inches apart, because the furniture sits on top of the stand’s base, giving it stability. Furniture with more (or less) than four legs will be unbalanced and unsafe.
The Able Life Safety Handle comes with pads to protect the floor, and furniture, from damage.
The beautiful bamboo tray surface measures 16 x 18 inches, and can hold up to 30 pounds. It can support a laptop, a meal, crossword puzzles or handiwork. When not in use, the tray can be positioned off to the side of the sofa, like a nice little end table.
The tray also features a built in cup holder and small item storage area, perfect for keeping little essentials, like glasses, pencils or the remote control, close at hand.
When it’s time to rise from the chair, a senior can simply swivel the tray out of the way, and use the 6 x 6 inch rounded mobility handle for assistance to stand. It supports seniors weighing up to 250 pounds.
The handle’s height adjusts between 34 to 40 inches, and the tray table’s height adjusts from 26 to 32 inches. The base length is also adjustable between 20 to 36 inches, so this stand can accommodate seniors with a range of heights, and a variety of furniture.
- Weight: 25 pounds
- Installation: Adjust the base and position it underneath two legs of a chair. No tools required.
- Weight Capacity: 250 pounds (Tray weight capacity is 30 pounds)
- Additional Hardware Required: None
- Ceiling Types: Not Applicable
- Pole Height: 34-40 inches
- Colors / Styles: Bamboo tray, black powder-coated steel base
- Grip / Handle: Powder-coated steel
- Small item storage area keeps must-haves close at hand
- Swiveling tray is both attractive and handy
- Place on left or right side of chair
- Use only under a 4-legged chair or sofa, whose feet measure 20 to 36 inches apart
All About Transfer Poles for Seniors
A transfer pole is a vertical bar, running from the floor to the ceiling, designed to aid seniors, or people with disabilities, who have difficulty transitioning safely or independently from a lying, seated or standing position.
Sometimes called security poles, these assistive devices provide a sturdy handhold to enhance balance, or maximize use of upper body strength, during transfers. They can make an enormous difference in independence and safety for older adults with poor strength, balance or mobility.
Why are Transfer Poles Essential for the Elderly?
Transfer poles offer a number of benefits for seniors. They are used by many older adults across the country, and for some, they literally make all the difference in their ability to live independently.
Transfer poles provide assistance for seniors to stand up independently, and sit down safely. For some, this eliminates the need for transfer assistance from another person. Others may still need assistance, but the transfer pole eases the physical demand on the caregiver, making the situation much safer for both individuals.
Steadying oneself on a transfer pole can greatly reduce the risk of falling, which is one of the foremost causes of injuries in the elderly. Falls can lead to major complications, so preventing them is one of the important ways for seniors to maintain their best possible quality of life.
How are Transfer Poles Installed and Positioned?
Most transfer poles use tension mounting, which means there are no screws, bolts or drilling involved. Usually, you just use a small, included tool to twist the pole until it reaches the ceiling. Simply continue twisting until it fits snugly and securely.
Transfer poles with extra grab bars may be slightly more complicated to assemble or install. While assembly may be an easy task for an able-bodied adult, it might be challenging for an elder with impaired strength or abilities to tackle on their own.
The pole may be placed on carpet or hard floors, as long as they are not slanted. The top and bottom plates are generally padded to ensure there is no damage to the floor or ceiling.
Some transfer poles come with optional screws, or other mounting hardware, which can be useful in providing extra stability for seniors who are heavier, or put a lot of force on the pole during use.
In some cases, transfer poles must be mounted for safety, for example in the case of bariatric transfer poles, or those designed for use with vaulted ceilings.
Transfer poles are easier and less expensive to install than traditional grab bars, which must be mounted to studs in the wall by a contractor or skilled handyman.
Where are Transfer Poles Commonly Placed?
Transfer poles are most commonly used:
- Next to the bedside
- Beside a favorite recliner or living room chair
- Near the toilet
These are areas where seniors frequently need to get up or down, and can often use something stable to grab onto for support.
Some seniors also use transfer poles next to the bathtub or shower. Transfer poles typically can’t be installed inside of the tub, due to the slightly slanted surface, but having it just outside works well in many cases.
Transfer poles can also be installed in other areas of the home where there is a need for a sturdy handhold. Some appreciate having a transfer pole installed in the kitchen, next to their dining chair, or on a single step down into a sunken living room, for example.
Because many transfer poles are relatively easy to install and relocate, some seniors even take their transfer pole along with them to hotel rooms, or when visiting a friend or family member’s home.
Who are Transfer Poles Good For?
There are many seniors across the nation who benefit from using a transfer pole. A few examples include:
- The elderly lady who struggles to stand up from her favorite easy chair.
- An elderly man who relies on his wife to steady him as he moves between his bed and wheelchair.
- An older woman who has recovered from hip surgery, but still has a bit of trouble standing up from the toilet.
- A senior man who prizes his independence, and appreciates the security of having something to hold onto while getting in and out of the shower.
- The chronically ill woman who can’t sit up in bed unassisted, and finds independence when pulling herself up with her security pole.
- A retiree who is prone to bouts of lightheadedness in the bathroom.
- A veteran whose arm strength helps compensate for the pain and weakness in his legs.
- The adult son of an elderly couple who are coming to stay with him for a while. He doesn’t want the hassle and expense of installing grab bars, but he knows his parents need something secure to hang onto in the bathroom.
Transfer Pole Safety for Elderly Seniors
One of the leading reasons seniors invest in a transfer pole is to enhance their safety – with good reason. Transfer poles go a long way in preventing falls, which can be incredibly dangerous for any senior. Just be sure the pole is installed according to the manufacturer’s directions to be safe.
Leave enough room between the pole and the bed or wall, so that a weak or confused senior won’t end up accidentally lodging an arm, leg – or even their head – between the bed and pole.
Transfer poles tend to present much less danger of entrapment or injury than bed rails, and usually, their benefits far outweigh any risks.
It’s recommended to consult with a physical therapist when a senior is having increased difficulty with mobility. In-home therapy appointments can usually be made through the senior’s primary care provider’s office. Often Medicare or insurance will cover most, if not all, of the bill.
A physical therapist can make the best recommendation for exactly the right transfer pole or mobility assistance device for your specific needs.
What to Consider in a Transfer Pole
There are several important factors to keep in mind when selecting the right transfer pole.
Be sure to measure the distance from the ceiling to the floor to ensure you are choosing a transfer pole that will work for your space!
The height can be adjusted on many – but not all – transfer poles. Some models sell optional transfer pole extensions.
Type of Ceiling
Most transfer poles require flat ceilings, and can’t be installed safely on a slanted ceiling. Transfer poles for slanted ceilings must be hardware-mounted to prevent slippage.
Ease of Installation: Tension Mounting vs. Hardware Mounting
Most transfer poles are tension-mounted, which means that they expand until they are held snugly in place between the floor and ceiling. This method of set up is far easier than bringing in the drill and screwdriver to secure it into the support beams, and it is secure enough for most seniors’ needs.
Many transfer poles offer optional hardware to screw the pole into the ceiling, which provides added stability, if needed. For example, those at the higher end of the weight capacity, or those who exert a great deal of force on the pole may feel more comfortable with a more permanent installation.
Besides the ease of installation, another advantage of tension mounting is that the pole can be relocated without difficulty, and without damage to the floor or ceiling. This is handy if the pole is needed short term, such as for recovery from a surgery. It can also be nice if the senior’s daily routines change and the pole is needed elsewhere.
Some tension mounted transfer poles do require occasional tightening, which amounts to a simple twisting until snug. It requires even less effort than the original installation, and isn’t a problem for most seniors.
However, those who would find this troublesome may prefer to install the pole permanently in the first place, so as to not have to worry about it again.
Check that the transfer pole’s weight capacity is enough to handle the demand. This is especially important if you will be using it heavily, or putting a good deal of force on it.
Even if you intend to use the transfer pole only for occasional balance stability, it’s important to ensure that it can support your full weight if it needs to, for example in the event you lose your balance and start to fall.
Most transfer poles can support 250-300 pounds. Heavier seniors should look for a bariatric transfer pole, which will likely need to be hardware-mounted.
Many transfer poles consist of a vertical pole reaching from the floor to the ceiling, but some have additional grab bars or hand grips to make grasping easier and more comfortable.
Shapes and styles of these grab bars vary. A transfer pole with swing grip, for example, features a hairpin-shaped bar that rotates and locks in several different positions.
Some transfer poles include a single horizontal bar extending from the vertical post, and others feature curved handholds of various designs.
Regardless of their specific shape, all horizontal grab bars tend to be easier to grasp for seniors with reduced hand strength. However, they take more space than a basic vertical pole does, so measure your space carefully when considering a model with a grab bar.
If the transfer pole is to be used in the bathroom – especially near the shower – look for a rust-resistant model for long-term safety and performance.
Some transfer bars have foam padding over the area intended for holding. This can create a softer, more comfortable surface to grasp, which may be especially appreciated by seniors with painful arthritic hands. In some cases, foam padding can also enhance grip, reducing the risk of slipping when compared to a bare pole.
However, most types of foam padding can be harder to sanitize than a non-padded bar. If infection control is a major concern in your senior’s situation, it might be a good idea to skip the padding, or at least ensure it is made from hospital-grade foam that can be effectively sanitized.
There are a number of styles, and even colors, when it comes to floor to ceiling transfer poles. First and foremost, be sure that any prospective pole meets your senior’s safety needs. From there, look for a pole that pleases the eye and accentuates the home decor.
Many basic transfer poles are available in black or white. Some of the more premium (and pricey) transfer poles are available in premiere color choices, such as bronze or graphite.
Transfer Pole Alternatives
Seniors who mainly need a transfer pole for bedside use – for basic assistance getting in or out of bed – may find that bed rails make a fine alternative to a traditional transfer pole.
Bed rails are often smaller and less expensive than transfer poles, but are limited, of course, to the bedside.
Some transfer poles offer more stability – but there are some very stable bed rails out there, so this could vary from case to case. When it comes to ease of installation, it’s also a bit of a toss up, with a specific bed rail or transfer pole taking the cake in this area.
Toilet Safety Rails
If the only place you need assistance is next to the toilet, toilet safety rails can offer a good alternative to a transfer pole.
Raised toilet seats – when they come with handles – can provide a basic handhold which can be very helpful to seniors as they get up or down from the commode. Seniors who need a great deal of weight or balance support, however, will fare better with a transfer pole or traditional grab bar (although this can be expensive or cumbersome to install).
Also known as grab bars, assist bars generally refer to a permanently-mounted supportive bar used to provide stability assistance in standing or maintaining balance.
Assist bars may be placed horizontally, vertically, or sometimes, diagonally, depending on the space and needs. Horizontal grab bars offer the best weight support.
Some newer assist bars are designed to be stylish as well as functional.
Suction-based assist handles are sometimes used by seniors in the shower. They can help those who are mostly steady maintain their balance, but they are not intended to support a great deal of weight. Doing so can cause them to break away from the wall, and can lead to a fall.
Suction-based handles are sometimes favored because they can be applied without permanent installation, which is not always an option in an apartment or condo.
Permanently installing grab bars can become rather expensive, as it’s generally recommended to have a contractor install grab bars for safety, and installing them in the shower may mean a major renovation.
Because of this, seniors often opt instead for a transfer pole, which offers full weight support with easy installation, and without damaging the bathroom.
Our Summary of Top Transfer Poles for the Elderly
While all the transfer poles listed here should be great picks for any senior, we believe that the best overall option out there for seniors seeking a security pole is the Signature Life Sure Stand Pole.
This pole accommodates flat or vaulted ceilings up to 12 feet high, which covers considerably more than most others on the market. It also offers a long list of optional accessories, which allows you to select exactly the support you need.
We appreciate you taking the time to read our transfer pole round-up. We’re always interested to hear about your own experiences with transfer poles – leave us a note in the comments section below and let us know what you think!
Last update on 2021-07-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API