In order to safely age in place, it’s often necessary to make some house renovations. There’s plenty to do, as many everyday objects are a falling hazard for the elderly. That’s especially true when it comes to the bathroom, as it’s one of the most dangerous rooms for seniors and usually requires a complete overhaul. Of course, changing the bathtub for a safer one is a must. Even if the older adult already has a tub with a small step, getting into the shower may still result in a fall. Since falling is the second leading cause of accidental injury deaths worldwide, getting a walk-in tub should be one of your top priorities.
Safety of Bathtubs for Seniors
Even though it’s easy to slip in the shower, many seniors prefer using a shower instead of a bathtub because the standard bathtub requires a certain amount of mobility to get in. Still, bathtubs offer the possibility to take long, relaxing baths and implement several safety modifications. Moreover, for seniors who can’t stand for a long time, a tub can easily allow them to bathe in a seated position.
So, getting a walk-in bathtub might be the best option. Since tubs come with a small door, seniors can get in and out without lifting their legs. Additionally, there are extra safety features available, such as grab bars to help seniors get in and out. You can also install hydromassage bathtub pumps to soothe body aches, and since the user is in a sitting position, there’s almost no chance of falling due to fainting spells.
For cases where a caregiver is required, walk-in bathtubs are also easier to use than showers. Since the senior sits in the bathtub instead of a shower chair, there are fewer complications when helping the patient take a bath.
Recommended Walk-in Tubs for Seniors
American Standard 3060
With prices starting at $5,300, the American Standard 3060 walk-in bathtub is expensive. But it also comes with many extras to make such a big investment worthwhile. It features an air spa system with 26 jets to deliver advanced water-based therapy and a whirlpool massage system with 13 water jets. In other words, this walk-in tub comes with everything you need to get a reinvigorating spa experience that improves blood circulation and relieves pain. To make sure it’s safe to use, the bathtub comes with a built-in seat and safety bar, allowing the user to take their bath stress-free. The bathtub is 30”x60”, and you can choose between a left-handed or right-handed door. The door seal comes with a lifetime warranty, the tub shell with a 10-year warranty, and all other components enjoy a 5-year warranty.
Empava White 53
Costing $3,199, the Empava White 53” walk-in bathtub is a more affordable option. But the cheaper price doesn’t mean it lacks features. This walk-in tub offers a whirlpool massage effect with six large water jets on the back and four more around the body, and comes with a built-in seat for safe bathing. Speaking of safety, Empava White 53 features an ultra-low step-in threshold of four inches, making it easy for the senior to get in and out of the tub, which is securely reinforced by a slip-resistant tub floor. It’s also perfect for larger seniors, as it supports up to 440lbs and comes with an extra-wide door. The walk-in whirlpool tub is covered by a 3-year warranty.
Energy Tubs Soaking Walk-In Bathtub
Although the 32”x53” Energy Tubs walk-in bathtub might seem smaller than the others, it still offers enough space to sit comfortably inside. More importantly, the wide door that opens outward is perfect for any senior who uses a wheelchair. Plus, it comes with a tub filler set for fast filling and a hurry drain system that drains the entire tub in just 110 seconds. This way, the user won’t have to spend too much time waiting to get out of the tub. For a total of $3,499, this walk-in tub also comes with an anti-slip floor combined with two built-in grab bars and a seat to make sure that the senior can get in and out of the tub safely.
Pros and Cons of Walk-in Tubs for the Elderly
The main advantage of having a walk-in tub is how it combines comfort with safety. Since seniors can bathe while sitting down, there’s virtually no risk of them falling while bathing, even if they get dizzy due to the heat. Additionally, it’s more comfortable to take a bath seated than standing in a shower, and there are many products to make the bathing experience even more relaxing.
Like everything, however, walk-in tubs also come with their fair share of disadvantages. Since a walk-in tub has a built-in door, seniors can’t fill or drain the water with the door open. In other words, they’ll have to spend a considerable amount of time sitting inside the tub waiting for it to fill up. It’s also more difficult to get the water temperature right, as the senior has to make sure it’s not too cold or too hot while sitting inside the tub as it fills up. Plus, walk-in tubs are more expensive to install and use more water than a walk-in shower.
Fortunately, most disadvantages can be fixed. Some walk-in tub models come with features that fill the water faster, whereas others offer a heated seat to keep the user warm.
How To Choose the Best Walk-in Bathtub
There are many walk-in bathtub models on the market that come at different price points and offer unique features. So, there isn't a perfect walk-in tub that works for everyone. Instead, you'll need to keep the user’s needs in mind when looking for the best walk-in bathtub.
The main aspect you need to consider is the bathtub size. It should be large enough for the senior to sit comfortably inside but small enough to fit in the user’s bathroom. The door’s size is also important. For instance, a wheelchair user will need a wider door that opens outward. Additionally, keep in mind that the lower the entry step is, the safer it is for the senior.
Next, it’s time to check how long the bathtub takes to fill up and drain out. Standard models take around 15 minutes, but some come with rapid fill and rapid drain features that decrease the time to just a few minutes.
Finally, you should consider which added features are worth their price. For example, a tub with a non-slip surface is a safer option, especially for when the senior is getting out of the tub. Meanwhile, more expensive walk-in bathtubs come with water or air jets that provide pain relief. A bariatric tub might be necessary for larger seniors, as these can handle people who weigh over 300 pounds.
Safe Bathing for Seniors
A walk-in bathtub is a necessary investment for any senior who wants to age in place. But the work doesn’t end there. In the bathroom alone, there are plenty of renovations you can do to make it safer. Having an elevated toilet seat, a non-slip floor, and grab bars in the walls are just a few examples.
You shouldn’t forget about the other rooms, though. Everything needs to be changed to make the house as safe as possible for the elderly. Having a medical alert system is excellent if an accident happens – not only inside the house but even when the user goes outside. With a medical alert system in place, the senior just needs to press a button to call for help and they’ll be automatically connected to a team of specialized caregivers. Some companies even call for assistance when the user isn’t able to answer, which can be lifesaving in case of an emergency.