Falling as an older adult is dangerous. In fact, it’s the leading cause of fatal injury among older adults. So, it’s easy to understand why some seniors even develop a fear of walking. To counteract this, it’s essential to renovate a senior’s home to make it fall-proof. While there’s always an associated risk with aging at home, you can mitigate many of the hazards by removing objects that seniors could trip over, installing grab bars, and making other small adjustments to make the house safer.
The place you need to prioritize is the bathroom, as it’s where the majority of falls happen at home. Usually, a complete overhaul is necessary, as you should install grab bars, an elevated toilet seat, slip-resistant flooring, and more. But the bathroom’s centerpiece – whether it’s a bath or shower – is the first thing you should consider. While bathtubs can be challenging for seniors to step into, a standard shower can be a slipping hazard. The way to solve this is pretty simple – either install a walk-in bathtub or a walk-in, slip-resistant shower. But which one of these is the better option?
Benefits of a Walk-in Bathtub for Seniors
Walk-in bathtubs are very secure as they allow seniors to bathe in a seated position, so there’s no chance of them falling. And since walk-in bathtubs have a door, older adults can easily enter the tub without lifting their leg. Meanwhile, a bathtub offers a level of comfort that a shower can’t compete with, especially for those who find it hard to stand up for long periods of time. Better yet, some of the more advanced walk-in tubs come with hydrotherapy features, such as water or air jets, which improve circulation and ease aches and pains. Finally, there are plenty of extra security features available, such as transfer benches, grab rails, heated seats, and more. You can even get a combo unit that comes with a shower function.
Benefits of a Walk-in Shower for Seniors
Walk-in showers are straightforward to use. Unlike bathtubs where the senior needs to wait inside for the water to fill up, a shower allows the user to enter and start showering right away. This is especially helpful when the senior uses a wheelchair or needs the help of a caregiver to shower. Of course, walk-in showers also come with various add-ons for both safety and storage. From grab bars to shower benches and non-slip flooring, walk-in showers can be made highly secure. Additionally, there are plenty of showerhead options available. In this case, we recommend having a wireless showerhead to make sure the senior doesn’t get tangled up in the wire. Last but not least, walk-in showers are affordable with decent options costing below the $1,000 mark.
Walk-in Tub or Walk-in Shower: Which Is Best for You?
There isn’t a universal answer to this question. The best option depends on the senior and their needs. For example, a walk-in shower might be the best solution for a senior who’s in a wheelchair since they won’t have to leave the chair to take a shower. Meanwhile, walk-in bathtubs with hydrotherapy features help patients suffering from body aches or poor blood circulation.
Still, walk-in showers are more affordable than tubs and take up less space, making them the perfect option for those with a small bathroom and who aren’t able to spend $3,000 to upgrade their bathtub. A senior may also get cold while waiting for the tub to fill in or drain out, which doesn’t happen when using a shower. However, there’s no way around the fact that a walk-in bathtub is the most secure option for seniors who bathe alone.
In short, only you and your loved one can decide which is the best option for you. We do recommend backing up your purchase with a medical alert system, though – especially if you’re getting a walk-in shower. Even with all the renovations, there’s still a chance of an accident happening, and a medical alert system will be there to help the senior in distress right away. For instance, if the user falls while wearing a pendant with fall detection, the caregiver team will be contacted automatically. In case the senior isn’t able to answer, help is sent anyway. Better yet, these devices work everywhere, even when the user is outside the house.
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