As we age, some activities that were once easy, such as getting into the shower, can become challenging. This can be due to physical limitations, illness, or simply the aging process, making the act of cleaning up a prolonged, painful, or hazardous experience. If you or someone you know is experiencing reduced mobility and can no longer use a regular bathtub or shower, a walk-in tub may be worth considering. This is an excellent option for older adults who desire to live independently and age in place. We will provide all the essential information you need to know before purchasing a walk-in tub, as well as additional resources to aid in your research.
Walk-in tubs offer a secure and comfortable solution that reduces the risk of slips and falls by allowing individuals to sit rather than recline, unlike a traditional bathtub. While they may be costly to acquire and install, walk-in tubs can provide a sense of comfort and self-reliance for those who choose to age in place.
What is a Walk-In Tub?
It's likely that you've come across TV ads promoting walk-in tubs, which provide a more accessible and secure bathing experience than a traditional shower or bathtub. Standard tubs can be elevated by 20 inches or more from the bathroom floor, posing difficulties for individuals with balance or mobility impairments.
In contrast, a walk-in tub features a handy side door that opens and shuts effortlessly, allowing the user to step directly into the tub. These doors are sealed tightly to prevent water leakage and typically come in both right-hand and left-hand designs, making them simple for anyone to use.
Why are walk in tubs important for elders?
Walk-in tubs are designed to provide safety and comfort to people who face mobility and balance challenges while using a traditional shower or bathtub. These tubs come equipped with several features that enhance the bathing experience for seniors and people with disabilities. A seat that is typically set at chair height is incorporated into the design of the tub, along with handlebars to ensure easy and safe access. The non-skid flooring of these tubs also adds to their safety features.
Furthermore, additional features like a whirlpool or jacuzzi option can make the bath even more relaxing by creating air bubbles that massage the body. Walk-in tubs are usually deeper than standard bathtubs, allowing the user to fully immerse themselves and enjoy longer soaks. For those who need to shower, many walk-in tubs come with an extendable showerhead feature that allows the user to sit comfortably while bathing. However, it is important to note that installing a walk-in tub requires professional assistance, which is an additional cost to consider.
The bathroom can be a hazardous place, and falls in the bathroom are a common cause of injury for seniors. However, precautionary measures can be taken to prevent these accidents. For instance, opting for a walk-in tub can help minimize the risks associated with falling. Walk-in tubs are particularly useful for seniors who suffer from mobility issues or disorders such as vertigo, as the entrance to the tub is located at floor level, eliminating the need to step over a high threshold. This reduces the difficulty of balancing and the risk of tripping and falling.
In conclusion, walk-in tubs can be a safer and more comfortable option for seniors and people with mobility or balance impairments. By investing in a walk-in tub, you can enjoy a more relaxing and independent bathing experience while reducing the risk of injury.
Why do I need a walk-in tub?
In light of the numerous benefits of walk-in tubs, it's important to understand why they are becoming increasingly popular among seniors. Beyond providing a safer bathing experience, walk-in tubs offer unique features that cater to the needs of aging adults. Two of the most notable benefits are hydrotherapy and fall prevention. Furthermore, incorporating a walk-in tub into your home can potentially increase your property value.
A whirlpool or jacuzzi tub with jets can provide a massage that can help relax sore muscles. Seniors dealing with injuries such as burns, ulcers, or amputations can benefit from hydrotherapy. If you suffer from arthritis, the warm water and jets can soothe inflammation and aching joints, making it a valuable feature. Even if you opt not to add jets to your walk-in tub, simply soaking in warm water offers multiple health benefits. It can ease joint and muscle pain, and the warm water can stimulate the release of endorphins, which can help enhance your mood.
Prevent Accidents and Injuries
For older adults with mobility issues or a history of falling, getting into a standard tub can be a leading cause of falls. According to the CDC, falls can result in hospital bills that can cost more than $30,000, which can be a significant financial burden for seniors on fixed incomes or tight budgets. By eliminating the hazards of bathing, walk-in tubs greatly reduce the risk of falling and help seniors avoid costly hospital visits.
In addition to fall prevention, walk-in tubs also eliminate the need for a sliding shower door, which is another potential risk for seniors. As we age, our balance and mobility decline, especially when standing on slippery surfaces like a bath or shower. Shower doors are not designed to support body weight, and they may move or break if too much weight is put on them when trying to balance. Walk-in tubs are much safer since they don't have sliding doors and typically feature sturdy handrails.
May Increase Home Value
Incorporating a walk-in tub into your home may not only provide you with added safety and convenience, but it could also potentially boost the value of your property, especially if you reside in a retirement community. Such communities cater to older adults, and incorporating safety features and medical equipment like a walk-in tub could make your property more appealing to potential buyers, making it a wise long-term investment.
How to choose a walk-in tub?
Here is Walk-in Bathtub Buyers' Guide that you can refer to.
How to Install a Walk-In Tub?
Professional installation is usually necessary for walk-in tubs, as most bathrooms are not designed for them. Depending on the size of your bathroom and the new tub, some renovation may also be required, though this can vary from home to home. It's important to keep these extra costs and steps in mind before purchasing a walk-in tub.
Certified installers will typically handle the installation process, including the removal and disposal of your old bathtub, as well as any necessary plumbing and electrical work. In most cases, your existing plumbing and electrical lines will work fine, which can help you avoid expensive renovations. However, installation costs can vary depending on your bathroom, the installation speed, and building permit costs.
All walk-in tubs require a secondary drain in the door to be certified. It's recommended to get the second drain to avoid affecting the cost of your insurance, and you should ensure that your chosen model complies with local building and plumbing codes before making a purchase. The best option is to select a well-known and trusted brand to install your new walk-in tub. Attempting a DIY installation can be expensive, dangerous, and time-consuming, especially if you lack experience in this area. A reputable company will work efficiently and carefully to ensure that your new walk-in tub is installed correctly and fully functional, and they will also provide instructions on how to use it.
How to maintain your walk-in tubs?
Although quality walk-in tubs can last a lifetime, it is important to maintain them properly to keep them beautiful, safe, and functional. To help you do this, we have put together a maintenance guide with tips for properly maintaining your walk-in tub.
Rinse after Bathing
It may be tempting to simply move on with your day after using your walk-in tub. However, taking a few minutes to perform maintenance can save you a lot of effort in the long run. Rather than just draining the tub and moving on, take a minute to rinse it out with warm water using the handheld shower wand.
By rinsing the tub immediately after use, you can prevent the build-up of limescale and soap scum while they are still fresh. If left unchecked, these substances can settle and dry onto the tub's surfaces, making them much more challenging to remove.
It is recommended to conduct a weekly thorough cleaning of your walk-in tub. If you rinse your tub with warm water after each use, this weekly cleaning shouldn't be too challenging. To clean the tub, use a mild and non-abrasive cleaner along with a soft sponge or washcloth to scrub all the surfaces. You should also clean the door seal weekly using rubbing alcohol on all its surfaces. Avoid using wire brushes or steel wool to scrub your tub as it may cause damage to its surface. It's important to ensure that the cleaner you use is safe for use on acrylic.
Remember to wash all the surfaces and fixtures to restore their shine and make them look brand new.
Monthly Internal Cleaning
Up until now, you may have assumed that cleaning a walk-in tub is no different from cleaning a regular bathtub. However, this section provides some unique cleaning tips specific to walk-in tubs. Many walk-in tubs come equipped with either air or water jet systems that provide therapeutic massages while bathing. If your walk-in tub has jets, you will need to perform special purging and cleaning at least once a month.
To thoroughly clean your tub, fill it with warm water until the back jet is covered, then add one cup of bleach and a tablespoon of dishwasher powder. Next, run the air or water jets for 15 minutes each. Afterward, drain the tub and rinse it with the handheld shower wand. This process disinfects the tubing inside the jets and removes any dirt and grime, ensuring that you enjoy a fresh and clean bathing experience every time.
While it’s extremely difficult to damage our durable walk-in tubs, it does occasionally happen. Keep an eye out for any damage to the tub’s surface, fixtures, or moving parts. This includes looking for leaks around the faucets or in the showerhead hose, as well as looking for loose handles, trouble with the door hinges, and more. Be sure to repair this damage right away to ensure your tub is always safe, watertight, and ready for use.
Please choose a high-qualified walk-in bathtub in your home, and then take good care of it, which is very helpful for the elderly to enjoy a good old age.
In conclusion, walk-in tubs are important for elders because they provide a safer and more comfortable bathing experience. Elders are more prone to accidents and injuries, especially in the bathroom, and walk-in tubs eliminate the need for them to step over high ledges or slippery surfaces to get in and out of the tub. They also provide a variety of safety features such as grab bars, non-slip flooring, and built-in seats, making it easier for elders to maintain their independence and dignity. Additionally, walk-in tubs can offer therapeutic benefits for elders with mobility issues, arthritis, or other health conditions, helping to reduce pain and improve circulation. Overall, investing in a walk-in tub can greatly improve the quality of life for elders and give their loved ones peace of mind.