Promoting Senior Independence With Walk-In Tubs
Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 81 percent of bathroom injuries occur due to slips and falls in the shower or tub. Bathing - what was once a simple routine - can become difficult or even dangerous for the aging adult.
Walk-in tubs serve the same purpose as regular tubs but allow individuals with limited mobility to bathe more independently. Walk-in tubs are fundamental for seniors who wish to remain in their homes as they age. While still maintaining independence, older adults can safely experience a relaxing and therapeutic bath with walk-in tubs.
How Do Walk-In Tubs Work?
So, how does a walk-in tub work? Generally, walk-in tubs have a side door that you open to step into the tub easily. Standard tubs require lifting the leg and stepping over the bath wall – increasing the possibility of falling and injuring yourself. The walk-in tub door seals when it closes, making it watertight to prevent leakage.
Most walk-in tubs contain:
- Non-skid flooring – This special flooring helps to prevent slips and falls.
- Handlebars – These safety bars are typically for stability during entry and exit from the tub.
- Built-in seat – Chair-height seats are built into the tub to avoid dangerous repositioning from standing to laying.
- Textured seating – This prevents individuals from slipping off the seat.
For a walk-in tub with a shower, you can choose to include an extendable showerhead. This option allows for a comfortable wash overhead while seated in the tub. Whirlpool and jacuzzi features are usually available for hydrotherapy.
How To Choose A Walk-In Tub
Walk-in tubs come in many different shapes and sizes – and frequently have options to add on extra features, some of which we discussed above. When choosing a walk-in tub, you may want to compare your options to see which one meets your specific needs. Here are a few different types of walk-in tubs to choose from:
- Hydrotherapy – Often referred to as jacuzzi or whirlpool tubs, these tubs contain strong jets that massage sore muscles and may help to alleviate pain and inflammation in conditions such as:
- Aromatherapy – These walk-in tubs allow you to incorporate essential oils into the bathwater to promote a soothing and relaxing experience.
- Wheelchair Accessible – These tubs have wide-swinging doors for roll-in access, making an easy transfer from the wheelchair to the seat inside the tub.
- Bariatric – These walk-in tubs are designed to support people who weigh more than 300 pounds.
Can You Turn a Traditional Bathtub into a Walk-In Tub?
You can turn a traditional bathtub into a walk-in shower, but here are some crucial aspects to consider when doing so.
A walk-in tub conversion consists of turning your traditional bathtub into a walk-in shower. The company you choose to make the conversion will make the necessary modifications depending on your needs. For instance, if you would like to convert your traditional tub to a walk-in shower only, removing part of the bath wall to create a low threshold is required to accommodate walk-in access. However, if you would like to keep the traditional bathtub option in addition to the walk-in shower, then installing a sealable door on the tub wall is required. This door allows for walk-in access and a sealed traditional tub.
Please keep in mind that a complete conversion from a traditional bathtub to a walk-in tub is not ideal. As we discussed above, walk-in tubs generally have a built-in seat for comfort and safety. A traditional tub wall is just not high enough to accommodate a seat inside. If a standard walk-in tub is what you're looking for, your best bet would be to completely remove the traditional tub and replace it with a walk-in tub. We'll talk about costs and brands in the next section.
Are Walk-In Tubs Worth It?
Before we get into the cost of walk-in tubs, let's first discuss the hefty hospital bill seniors may face after a fall. A trip to the hospital often costs $30,000 or more for a fall injury. Many seniors are on fixed incomes, and a $30,000 bill can add unpleasant financial stress to a physical injury. Because walk-in tubs are designed to eliminate bathing hazards, you may already be thinking just how worth it walk-in tubs really are.
The average cost of a walk-in tub with installation can range anywhere from $2000 - $20,000. As with anything else, the brand and added features can tack on higher costs. While these prices may seem alarming, keep in mind that it's still less expensive than a fall-related hospital bill.
Best Walk-In Tubs For The Elderly
Now that we have discussed walk-in tubs and their overall costs, let's talk about a few household brand names with quality tubs for seniors and excellent customer satisfaction.
With over 140 years of engineering expertise, Kohler tubs are designed to give you a truly spa-like experience. They are manufactured in the United States with a variety of added features to choose from. The Kohler walk-in bath offers an ultra-low 3" step-in and is equipped with fast-drain technology to minimize waiting time.
For more information, visit: https://www.kohlerwalkinbath.com/.
American Standard walk-in tubs are known to include safety and functionality benefits, such as one-touch hydrotherapy jets and a spacious bathtub with a low threshold. They provide lifetime warranties on their door seals and free installation estimates.
For more information, visit: americanstandardwalkinbaths.com.
Added Safety With MobileHelp
Get an added layer of protection for seniors living independently by pairing a walk-in tub with a medical alert device. These devices come with numerous options but nonetheless provide peace of mind knowing that help is on the way immediately after pressing the medical alert button.
The MobileHelp Classic is an in-home base unit that comes with a waterproof help button. Or, for maximum protection, get the Waterproof Wall Button that you can easily attach to any flat surface, including your walk-in tub. Summon emergency help when needed, even in the bathroom where most fall injuries occur.
https://www.seniorliving.org/walk-in-tubs/ https://www.bathplanet.com/baths/walk-in-tub/ https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/health/research/16stats.html https://www.renewitrefinishing.com/walk-in-tub.php