Did you know the vast majority of falls in the home occur in the bathroom? In fact, a whopping 80 percent of senior spills occur in bathrooms, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
Luckily there are some simple things caregivers can do to reduce the risk of falls in the bathroom while supporting senior independence. At the top of the list? Fall-proofing the bathroom by investing in adaptive devices, such as walk-in tubs.
But how do you choose between the many different options available? Let's count down six things to keep in mind when choosing a walk-in tub for your aging loved one. You can also review previous articles in this series about walk-in tubs.
Tips for Purchasing Walk-In Tubs
#1. Do Your Research
There are many different types of walk-in bathtubs offering a breadth and depth of features and functionality. Before heading to the store, take time to research various products and their pricing online. If possible, head to the store for an up-close-and-personal look.
Ultimately, whether you end up making an in-store or online purchase, the more information you have at your disposal, the better prepared you'll be to make a smart purchasing decision.
#2. Use Peer Power and Check out Reviews
Walk-in tub manufacturers and retailers alike share a common goal: to entice the public to buy their products. If you're looking for real insight into whether a walk-in tub is likely to fulfill your expectations, rely on the input of people who don't have a financial stake in the matter. There's a reason why people trust their fellow consumers over other sources in this era of peer sharing: it's accurate and unbiased.
#3. Know Your Needs… and Your Wants
Are you looking for an all-in-one option including built-in grab bars and hand-held showers? Are additional “bells and whistles,” such as jets, air massages, in-line heaters, and hydrotherapy, also on your must-have list? What sort of installation will you require and are you on a particular deadline? As you identify the attributes you're looking for in a walk-in tub, you'll automatically narrow down your list.
#4. Set a Budget
Walk-in tubs range from basic to luxury with price tags to go along with them. Aligning your needs and wants with your budget is an important part of the walk-in tub buying process.
#5. Consider Warranties and Return Policies
While understanding the warranty specifics for all of the walk-in tubs you're considering can seem like an overwhelming process, you'll be glad you did so if/when you encounter any issues with your purchase.
Walk-in tubs and their parts, including everything from water-tight seals to water pumps, heaters, and blowers, can vary in terms of what's offered, so be sure to understand exactly what you're getting when making a purchase.
Additionally, some companies allow returns; others do not. If you opt to purchase from a company without a return policy, be sure to double-check your measurements.
#6. Consult a Plumber
The last thing you want is to deal with the hassle of purchasing a walk-in tub that doesn't work with your aging loved one's current set-up. Depending on how the plumbing is wired, projects can range from simple and straightforward to a complete tub relocation. Knowing what to expect early in the process can help you adjust your wish list and budget, as necessary.
One last thing to keep in mind? Walk-in tubs and other adaptive equipment support the ongoing health, safety and independence of aging loved ones. While spending a significant amount of money on a walk-in tub may seem like a splurge, it's actually an invaluable component in senior home care, not to mention an investment in your aging loved one's quality of life.