“Here I Stand”
Constantly risking catastrophe. It’s a thought I sometimes have when I’m stepping out of the shower at night. Ours is one of those shower/tub monstrosities that is neither a good tub nor a good shower. It has a shower curtain, not the sliding glass door I would much prefer, but the worst is just the unit itself. The tub is too low to soak in, but it’s high enough that one has to step over it to get in and out of the shower which becomes increasingly awkward as the years go by. More than that, and more to the point, really, is the shower floor itself because now we get into the issue of safety. I guess we can call it a shower floor because in all these years I have only used it as a tub twice, but because it is designed to be used as a tub, the floor of the unit is smooth. Knowing that I would use it as I have, I immediately put down friction strips when we bought the house, and there the matter rests. Or doesn’t I suppose.
This is surely more information than my wife is comfortable sharing, but we use our bath towels for two days. The first day when I exit the shower, it rests on a towel rack near the shower. Because this towel rack has decorative towels on it, I move the towel to a hook on the other side of the towel rack to dry for the second night’s use. It’s when I reach for the towel on the second night that I sometimes find myself playing “What If.”
Having been a woodworker for so many years, the one thing I know—and know full well—is that if my feet should suddenly come out from under me when I’m leaning over a bit to get the towel from that distant hook that the nearer towel rack I use to steady myself when I reach over would be of no use at all. It’s designed to do what it’s doing now—hold up a towel. It is almost surely affixed with screws into plasterboard, which is to say that if this rather corpulent body should suddenly head for the floor and I grabbed it, it would simply break right off the wall. And there’s another element to consider. Time.
When we first got this house over twenty years ago, it was something I never gave a thought to because middle-aged people tend to do quite well in bathrooms. I don’t like to think of myself as old, but the calendar has a way of putting the lie to that sort of dissembling. Truth to tell, given the hours I continue to spend in the woodworking shop, I now get comments about being “really active” for my age! As I said, I don’t like to think about that sort of thing, but age comes to us all, and along with it comes the problems of age. Our vision is not as good; our balance is not as secure; and when we break a bone it stays broken for a very long time. And even though we do actually know that most dangerous falls for the elderly occur in the bathroom, we tell ourselves that ours is not that kind of a bathroom, mostly, I think, because we’re used to it as it is. I’ve showered in that bathroom for decades. Why would there be a problem now? But in asking that question I’ve already answered it. I’ve used that bathroom for decades.
In saying all this I have not advanced a single argument you haven’t heard before. Really, it’s not so much a matter of not knowing the possible dangers in a bathroom as it is not wanting to have to adopt Stodgy Old People Paraphernalia. At one point I was discussing this very issue with my wife who told me she did not want grab bars in the shower for that very reason. But for those who don’t want to appear old, but who also do not want to make a Hospital Emergency Room visit for something so avoidable, there is now a solution, namely Invisia, who makes the very products we need to avoid this sort of thing.
It’s been some time since I was able to visit their booth while I was at KBIS in Las Vegas in February of this year, but I still remember their booth very well. I honestly do not look my age, but I’m aware of it just the same, and I have long been on the lookout for bathroom safety equipment that would both do the job and do it with élan. I spent quite a bit of time in their booth, both in search of new material for blogs like this one and for information on a product I mean to use myself when we remodel our bathrooms.
These bathroom accessories are considerably more than just a pretty face, but then that’s the whole point of the exercise, to provide a safety feature for the bathroom. They use stainless steel almost throughout, and all of their items are designed to support five hundred pounds with total security, even tiny soap dishes! The screws are discreetly hidden, but all of their units have multiple mounting areas. I also like the concept of steel tubing throughout, because it transforms the otherwise depressing into a stunning design feature. The toilet roll holder looks like “just another design,” but it’s just what’s needed for those who require a bit of support when sitting down or getting off the toilet. And sadly, as the years pass, almost all of us will benefit from that kind of help. If you find yourself using the chair arms to help yourself out of a chair, you’ll soon be a candidate for one of these. Now you can have it and keep your dignity because there’s nothing “old people” about it.
What I especially like about the Invisia Collection is the stylishness with which they have designed their products. They have developed an entire line of bathroom accessories that looks like high fashion while providing safety to all, and note I did not say the elderly, but all. Tiny children slip in tubs. So do pregnant women and high school students recovering from football injuries and the like. And all of us with any kind of luck will eventually find ourselves old enough to welcome the security of products like these. It’s called aging in place, and it’s the very thing I want to do. I hope to live quite a bit longer yet, but as I age, my muscles will atrophy, my limbs will lose their elasticity, and my bones will become brittle. But if I am able to avoid falls, especially those bathroom falls which invariably include splatting onto hard tile at some point, none of the aging process will matter quite as much as the sheer joy of being able to continue to live right where I am.
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