With 80% of falls happening in the bathroom, it's imperative for anyone at a risk for falls to examine the hazards in the home and the bathtub is one of them. An alternative to traditional bathtubs are walk-in bathtubs.
Walk-in Bathtubs for Seniors
Walk-in bathtubs are bathtubs that have doors on them. They have doors that open up so the user doesn't have to step over the leading edge of a traditional bathtub. Walk-in bathtubs can be much safer alternatives for elderly and/or disabled individuals and can minimize the risk involved (in falling, etc.) for the less mobile among us.
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Walk-in bathtubs have heavy duty sealing (around the doors). The seal prevents water from seeping out when the tub is full of water. Walk-in tubs typically drain faster than traditional tubs too. This ensures that users don't have to sit around for long periods of time (waiting for the water to drain out).
RELATED: Is A Walk-In Bathtub Right For Me?
How To Buy A Walk-In Bathtub
Because these tubs don't come standard in a typical home, families will either reach out to a walk-in bathtub dealer (who can order the appropriate tub, and arrange for installation, etc.) or they will find a tub at Home Depot (or other big box stores) and hire someone separately to perform the installation.
Walk-in bathtubs can come with many features including jacuzzi style water jets. Doors can open inside or outside, depending on the make and model of the tub, and they come in a variety of (stale) color combinations. Newer walk-in tubs aren't one-size-fits-all either. They can come in small, medium or large sizes... and many different shapes!
RELATED: 6 TIPS FOR BUYING A WALK-IN BATH TUB
The Down Side
There are other considerations to make when considering walk-in tubs. First, you have to understand the overall experience of bathing in a walk-in tub. It's different than it is in a traditional bathtub. For example, in a walk-in bathtub:
- You must get in your tub, shut the door behind you, and then turn the water on so it slowly rises to the desired depth and temperature.
- Getting out involves the same drill in reverse. You have to wait for the tub to empty until you can get out of your walk-in tub.
- Because many of these tubs have fast-draining systems, your plumbing may or may not be able to accommodate the faster draining systems. You'll want to find out before ordering.
- A bare bones walk-in bathtub (without installation) is going to start at $2,000, and they go up from there. The nicer models retail between $4,000 - $6,000. Often times the bathroom will need a remodel to accommodate the new tub, and this could involve both an electrician and a plumber. So price is definitely a consideration when considering a walk-in type bathtub.
The Bottom Line
There's a big difference between stepping into a traditional bathtub vs. a walk-in bathtub, especially for the elderly and/or less mobile folks out there. Imagine stepping into the tub below, vs. some of the walk-in tubs illustrated above. Cost should always be a consideration when making the decision to invest in a walk-in tub, but the safety of your loved one should be your primary consideration.
In the end, you must do a good bit of research to understand what makes the most sense in your specific situation. We'll continue to write about these interesting products, in order to help you make the best choice you can make. Until then... Happy Soaking!
Click here for tips on how to gently shower your aging parent.
If you have any tips about ordering or using a walk-in bathtub, please tell us your story in the comments below!