Aging brings plenty of concerns. Growing older comes with health woes, daily living challenges, and many adjustments. One of the most concerning difficulties that can come with older age is an increased risk of falling. Anyone can fall, but adults age 65 and older are the most at risk of taking a fall and winding up with a serious injury.1
Falls are a common cause of injury among older adults. The NHS reports that approximately one in three adults over age 65 will fall at least once in a year. Many falls occur in the bathroom, where floors can be wet and slippery. The bathtub alone can be deadly for many older adults, with slippery surfaces, a high ledge, and little to hold on to.
So, how can you protect your aging loved ones who are living at home? It’s important to reduce their risk of falling, particularly in areas where there’s a high risk of such injuries. One way older adults can lower that risk is with a walk-in bathtub.
What Is a Walk-In Bathtub?
A walk-in bathtub is a different type of bathtub. As such, it has a different structure and functionality than a traditional bathtub.
Typically, walk-in bathtubs feature higher walls and doors that open up so you can easily walk into the tub. They eliminate the big, high step you’d have to take in order to get inside a traditional bathtub. Instead, you only need to step over a threshold of a few inches.
Generally, walk-in bathtubs are considered much safer alternatives for those who are elderly or disabled.2 These bathtubs can minimize older adults’ risk of falling. Considering many of these tubs also include seats, they make it much easier and more comfortable to shower and bathe.
How Does a Walk-In Bathtub Work?
Here’s how a walk-in bathtub works.
You open the door, enter the tub, and close the door. After the door is properly sealed, you can then begin filling the tub with water. You can bathe in a seated position without any difficulty. Once you’re done, you’ll drain the water before opening the door and stepping out.
Because of their unique design, walk-in bathtubs are generally deeper and higher-walled than traditional bathtubs. Yet they also include additional features that can be especially beneficial for older adults. According to Aging in Place, walk-in tubs often include:
- Accessibility features that help those with disabilities bathe in comfort;
- Built-in grab bars to help adults stand, sit, and maintain balance;
- Textured surfaces to prevent slips;
- Built-in seats;
- Controls, tap, and handheld shower head all within reach of the tub’s seats, and;
- Leak-proof doors that swing in or out.3
A walk-in bathtub could be the right solution for you or your elderly loved one. It may be able to improve their mobility in the bathroom and help them bathe without many common risks.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Walk-In Bathtub
If you’re ready to replace a current bathtub with a walk-in bathtub, there are a lot of different factors to consider. Walk-in bathtubs are all unique from one another. As such, each comes with different features, benefits, and even ways to bathe.
As you shop for a walk-in bathtub, make sure to consider the following.
The Tub Size
It’s important to make certain your new walk-in tub will fit in your bathroom.
Before you begin shopping around, measure the available space in your bathroom, or space where the new tub will be installed. If you plan to replace a current shower or tub, you’ll want to check to see how much room you have.
If you have flexible options, you can note all of your size choices.
Safety and Accessibility
One of the most important factors to consider is the safety of the walk-in bathtub. Because these tubs are meant to be safer, more easily accessible alternatives to a traditional bathtub, it’s critical that you consider how easy and safe it is to use a particular model.
You can assess different walk-in bathtubs by looking at the tub door, the lip you’ll need to step over in order to enter the tub, and any disability or accessibility features it has. Look for features like textured surfaces, non-slip grips, handles, and other functionality.
How the Tub Fills and Drains
It might seem like a simple detail, but you should consider the way in which walk-in tubs fill up with and drain water.
These bathtubs require the user to get inside the tub before beginning to fill it, then wait once finished for the water to drain. This means it’s important to find a walk-in bathtub that can both fill and drain as quickly as possible.
Lastly, don’t forget to consider all the additional features and perks that can come with a walk-in bathtub. Some walk-in bathtubs include extras that can make older adults feel even more comfortable – or even more relaxed – via different kinds of therapeutic features.
Walk-in bathtubs can include therapeutic benefits like water massage, air massage, chromatherapy, and even aromatherapy. These may be available as add-ons or included with some tub models.
Comparison Shop Online for Walk-In Bathtub Deals
Once you’ve decided on a few different walk-in bathtub models, it’s time to buy. Well, after you do some comparison shopping, that is.
Walk-in bathtubs can be an expensive purchase. That’s why it’s so important to do your research before choosing one. Even after narrowing down your choices, you should compare pricing and available options at different retailers.
Comparison shopping is the best way to ensure you’re getting a walk-in bathtub at the best possible price. Fortunately, there are now more ways than ever before to shop around at multiple retailers. Try shopping and comparing walk-in bathtubs in the following ways:
- Specialty Home and Bath Shops: These specialized retailers who sell items for renovations often offer a variety of different types of bathtubs. You can look for retailers who specifically sell walk-in tubs. You’ll likely find a wide selection at these types of shops.
- Hardware Stores: Big-name stores in the hardware and home improvement space often sell many different types of bathtubs and showers. These stores typically offer deals, discounts, and affordable pricing. Check to see if popular hardware stores in your area offer walk-in tubs or if they might sell them online.
- Online: Searching for walk-in bathtubs online allows you to browse a huge selection. You can compare many different retailers, bathtubs, and prices all at once.
Once you’ve made certain to compare walk-in bathtubs from several different sources, you’ll be well-informed and ready to make a purchase.