As more older adults choose to age in their own homes for as long as possible, walk-in bathtubs have become extremely popular. They're safe, comfortable and therapeutic. But, are they right for you?
This article will review the most common reasons users give for buying a walk-in tub.
1. You want to manage your pain
Walk-in tubs offer hydrotherapy, aerotherpay, heat, massage and buoyancy. All are designed to offer relief for aching joints, stiff muscles and pain in your feet and back. More specifically, warm water therapy has been proven to benefit symptoms associated with:
- Circulatory Disease
- Joint Pain
- Lower Back Pain
- Muscle Stiffness
- Poor Circulation
Bruce E. Becker, MD, director of the National Aquatics & Sports Medicine Institute at Washington State University in Spokane, recommends soaking for 20 minutes at a time, with water temperatures between 92 to 100 degrees. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says anything over 104 degrees is dangerous. Dr. Becker also recommends you drink a glass of water before and after your bath to stay well hydrated. This is especially important for older adults.
2. You have difficulty taking a bath
If you've reached a stage where you need help taking a bath or shower, but you'd prefer to be doing it on your own, a walk-in tub may be a solution for you, giving you your privacy back.
At some point, despite adding grab bars and adaptive seating, you may still need help getting in and out of the bathtub or washing yourself. The best walk-in tub will give you the ability to get in and out of the tub safely, get up and down from the tub easily and wash yourself with the bath water or a shower head without the need for assistance.
3. You're afraid of falling
Nearly 1 in 3 older adults fall every year. If you've already had a fall, your risk of falling again nearly doubles. All that to say, if you're over 65 year old, and you're afraid of falling, especially in the bathroom, you have good reason.
Lifting your leg over a nearly 2 foot high bath tub lip, while standing on one leg that's on a slippery surface, can be a challenge for many. It's even more difficult if you have range of motion or mobility difficulties.
Walk-in tubs solve this problem by allowing you to enter the tub through a door. You step over a low threshold of 3 to 8 inches, which is much less than the 17 to 19 inch threshold of a standard sized tub. Moreover, walk-in tubs have built in grab bars that help you lower and lift yourself from the built in seat, that are typically designed to be at the height recommended by the ADA, making it easy to wash yourself and get up and down in the tub safely.
4. You want to stay in your home
It's no secret, most older adults want to age in their own homes. You're next to friends and family, you're comfortable in your own space, you don't want to deal with the stress of moving, you don't want to risk not being happy in a new setting, you're not sure you can afford a senior residence, the list goes on.
If you're questioning whether you should move in to a senior residence, it's probably because you're either having difficulties with some or all of the activities of daily living (bathing, toileting, cooking, dressing etc), find it challenging to manage medications, feeling lonely or have a health condition.
If bathing on your own is the most difficult issue for you, a walk-in tub may be the answer. Instead of moving in to a residence so a caregiver can help you bathe, consider a walk-in tub as a solution. A walk-in tub can cost, in total, what an assisted living community may cost for 1-2 months. It may be worth the try.
5. You have a loved one you want to take care of
There's nothing worse than watching a loved one suffer or worrying about their safety. Whether it's your husband, wife, mother or father, we tend to worry about our loved one falling or slipping while getting into the bathtub. A walk-in tub may give you the peace of mind you need.
Walk-in tubs, aren't for everyone. But with so may different types of walk-in tubs available at different price points, there's likely a tub for you. Take the time to understand your options and explore alternatives that fit your needs.