The bathroom can be the most dangerous room in the home for individuals with disabilities and seniors with limited mobility. In fact, approximately 80% of senior falls actually happen in the bathroom. Since slips and falls are such a problem in the bathroom, it’s important to take measures to prevent them if you or a loved one has difficulty with traditional style bathtubs. Walk-in bathtubs offer a safer way for individuals with mobility problems to bathe independently. However, with many different options to choose from today, it’s often challenging to know when you need a walk-in tub, the options available, and where to begin your shopping. Here’s your one-stop guide to choosing the right walk-in bathtub for you or your loved one’s bathing needs.
Benefits of a Walk-In Bathtub
For the elderly or individuals with disabilities, a fall in the bathroom can be a serious danger. Trading out your old tub for a walk-in bathtub offers a number of benefits, including:
- Doors make it easy to enter and exit the tub without worrying about stepping up over the side of a traditional tub.
- These tubs usually feature seats that allow users to bathe in comfort.
- Several different therapeutic features are available to help with many medical ailments and chronic conditions.
- Even younger children can more safely bathe since they can easily walk into the tub.
- Many individuals are able to bathe independently with the addition of a walk-in tub, making it less embarrassing and more comfortable for them to take care of routine bathing.
Who Needs a Walk-In Bathtub?
Are you wondering who needs a walk-in bathtub and when it’s time to consider this new addition to your bathroom? Some of the people who can benefit from a walk-in bathtub include:
- Individuals with Disabilities or Limited Mobility – A walk-in bathtub offers easy access, and it’s a great choice for those who have a tough time using a standard bathtub due to mobility issues.
- Seniors – Seniors often see a decline in stability and mobility that can make it more difficult to use a standard bathtub, and a walk-in tub can make routine bathing easier.
- Aging in Place – Even if you don’t have mobility problems now, if you want to remain in your home as you age, an investment in a walk-in tub is a great way to prepare for your golden years.
- Caregivers – If you’re caring for a loved one with a physical or mental disability or an aging parent, walk-in tubs can make your caregiving responsibilities easier.
- Anyone with Joint Pain – Since many of these walk-in tubs come with hydrotherapy or aerotherapy, anyone with joint pain from restless leg syndrome, arthritis, or other chronic problems may appreciate these features.
Basic Walk-In Tub Features
A basic walk-in tub features a hinged, watertight door in the side that makes it much easier for individuals to step into the tub. This offers a much lower threshold for users to step over, usually around three inches instead of the 12-15-inch threshold or a traditional tub. Although most of these tubs have an inward opening door, outward-opening doors are also available for individuals who may need to move from shower chairs or wheelchairs.
Most walk-in tubs also have a hand-held showerhead, which makes it easier to bathe for those who have difficult standing. Some kind of built-in seat generally comes standard on these tubs as well. Although these tubs vary in size and shape, most fit into the same space as a standard tub and are between 25-32 inches wide. The height of the tub usually ranges between 37 and 47 inches.
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Most people choose walk-in bathtubs because they offer a safer bathing option than standard tubs do. Some of the safety features that commonly come with these tubs include:
- Built-In Seat – Seats that have a textured surface to avoid slipping come in most walk-in tubs, and rising from these seats is much easier than rising from the floor of a standard tub.
- Grab Bars – Walk-in bathtubs usually come with a minimum of two grab bars, and some come with more. It’s important to look for tubs that have bars installed where they’ll be easy to grab and use.
- Anti-Scald Valve – Anti-scald valves come standard on most of these tubs and they prevent quick changes in water temperature to help prevent injuries.
- Textured Flooring – Most walk-in tubs also have a textured floor surface to prevent slips and falls.
Therapy Options Available
Some walk-in bathtubs are equipped with therapy systems that can be beneficial for individuals who have chronic pain or arthritis. Therapy options available include:
- Hydrotherapy – Water jets move water around to offer a massaging bath, and hydrotherapy jets provide a fairly vigorous massage.
- Aerotherapy – Air jets are used to move water to offer a massage while bathing.
- Aromatherapy – Essential oils are placed in a special diffuser to offer an aromatherapy experience that makes you feel like you’re at a relaxing spa.
- Chromatherapy – LED lighting is used to create peaceful, soothing moods while bathing.
Available Customization Options
Many additional features can be added to your walk-in bathtub. However, they will cost more. Some available customization options can include:
- Neck Rests – For individuals who need more neck support, a neck rest can be added to some seats.
- Lowered Entry Step – While these tubs usually have 3-4-inch threshold, depending on the tub, some companies offer even lower entry step-ups for individuals who are unable to clear the average threshold height.
- Wall Surrounds – If you want a taller shower, it’s possible to add an acrylic wall surround.
- Tub Extender – Some tubs may not fit correctly into the space available in a standard bathroom. Extenders help to eliminate the gabs between the walk and the tub.
Where to Shop for a Walk-In Bathtub
Many different companies, make, sell, and install walk-in tubs. Some of the top names in the industry include American Standard, Premier, Jacuzzi, and Safe Step. Home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes often sell walk-in bathtubs, too.
Steps to Ordering Your Walk-In Tub
Since purchasing and installing a walk-in bathtub can be an expensive investment, it’s important to take the appropriate steps to ensure you get the tub you need. Steps to ordering your tub include:
- Consider Your Needs – Assess your needs for a walk-in tub. Who will be using it? What features will best meet your needs? Will extra therapy features be worth the additional money? Once you know your needs, you’ll be able to look for the best tub that meets those needs.
- Research and Reviews – Do your research on different companies that offer walk-in tubs. See what different companies offer. Take time to read reviews to find out what customers have to say before making your decision.
- Home Visit – Most walk-in tub providers or the contractor you’re working with will offer a home visit to assess your needs and check out your bathroom space. This way the space can be measured to get the right tub dimensions and you can discuss any additional features needed.
- Shipping – If your tub is a custom order, you’ll probably need to pay for shipping. Tubs can be shipped directly to your home or the store or contractor taking care of the installation.
- Tub Installation – Some tub manufacturers do provide installation, or your tub can be installed by a plumber or a contractor. In some cases, installation may require some bathroom renovations to ensure the tub fits properly.
How Sage Can Help
Are you considering a walk-in tub for your home? It’s an excellent choice for individuals with disabilities or aging loved ones. However, you may be holding back because you’re worried the contracting work will be too expensive and take too long. At Sage, we work to take the worry out of getting a new walk-in tub. We offer free consults and we’ll work with you to make the process simple and painless so you can begin enjoying your new tub as quickly as possible. Contact Sage today by calling (610) 518-2221 or request a consultation using the form below.