Bathtubs are a game-changing bathroom product for seniors who want to age comfortably at home. They provide a seat while bathing, making it easier and more comfortable to wash oneself. Bathtubs for elderly individuals also help regain their confidence and independence inside the bathroom.
Despite their pros, tubs can be a safety hazard for seniors with balance issues. Most models have high thresholds, which make it challenging for the elderly to climb in and out. This significantly increases the risk of falls and injuries.
So, what exactly can you do to ensure the safety of your loved ones in the bathroom?
Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of bathing accessibility products in the market. For instance, a walk-in bathtub for seniors can help make bathing easier for elderly individuals who want to manage their hygiene.
We'll guide you by outlining everything you need to know about bathtubs for the elderly. We’ll give you an overview of their importance, benefits, types, and other essential information to prevent serious injuries caused by falls in the bathroom.
According to the National Institute on Aging, one in three elderly individuals experience falls every year. This risk is even higher when it comes to bathing or personal hygiene, as 80% of these falls happen in the bathroom.
A bathtub can be dangerous for a senior citizen due to two main reasons. First, it has a high threshold without enough dependable things to grab onto, making it easier for seniors to lose their balance. Second, it usually has unforgiving and slippery surfaces, which further increase the chances of harm.
Falls rarely happen without warning. If you’re taking care of a loved one, you must observe their mobility.
Do they have trouble keeping their balance? Do they find it difficult to get up from a bed or chair? If so, these signs indicate that they are highly at risk of experiencing a bathroom accident.
So, before any accident happens, you should intervene now. Invest in bathing safety and accessibility products for senior citizens to avoid a serious or fatal injury from falls.
Now that you know the importance of making bathtubs safe for the elderly, you’re probably wondering how to actually go about it.
Fortunately, the key to reducing the risk of falling is relatively simple. All you need to do is install safety features in the bathroom to make your bathtub secure and accessible for seniors.
Below are the following options you can consider to make a bathtub safe for the elderly.
This bathroom accessory is an easy-to-install, budget-friendly feature for bathtubs. Also known as bath tapes or shower treads, they are adhesive strips that add friction to bathing surfaces. It makes it harder for elderly individuals to slip or fall while bathing.
Besides bathroom surfaces, bed safety strips can also be attached to linoleum, marble, and wooden floors. They are available in Amazon, Walmart, and other online retailers.
Non-slip mats function similarly to bath safety strips—they both prevent slipping on wet tiles. But unlike bath strips, these accessories are simply placed on the floor instead of firmly attached to the ground.
It’s best to lay down non-slip mats in front of the shower or bathtub, or near the sink and toilet. Since these areas are usually slippery, having a non-slip mat can prevent your loved one from slipping or falling. They are also inexpensive and are available in most stores.
Grab bars are suitable for elderly individuals who have poor balance and difficulty getting in and out of the tub. Since they are firmly attached to the wall, they can support the senior’s weight when entering or exiting tubs, unlike ordinary towel racks.
Additionally, safety grab bars are durable and can last for years to come. Besides your home, they can also be found in accessible public restrooms and hospital bathrooms.
In terms of installation, safety grab bars require bolts, so you may need to hire a handyman to attach it to your bathroom wall. However, suction-type grab bars are also available in the market if you want an easy-to-install safety feature.
Do note that some suction models can come loose and slide down the shower wall, leading to a severe fall. It’s best to invest in bolted-on grab bars as they are more reliable.
If you are looking for an alternative to safety grab bars, consider a security pole and curve grab bar. Also known as a tension pole, it gives the elderly something to hold onto while bathing. It is a temporary bathroom aid that prevents senior citizens from falling.
But unlike a standard grab bar, this accessory can be attached anywhere in the bathroom. It is also easy to install since it doesn’t require any tools.
As its name suggests, bath chairs give the elderly something to sit on while taking a bath. These accessories support those who have difficulties standing up or balancing in the shower or bathtub.
Bath chairs are waterproof and come in a wide range of designs. Some models are equipped with back seats to provide further support, while others have armrests for comfortability. More expensive bath chairs can also have cushioned surfaces.
On top of these benefits, bath chairs for seniors are also easy to install since they are already fully assembled. These bathing accessories are available in medical supply stores and drugstores.
Transfer benches are upgraded bath chairs, suitable for those who have problems getting into bathtubs. They are designed to hang over the tubs’ edge to support a senior citizen entering and exiting the bathtub.
These accessories have different applications, making them a versatile option for the elderly. They can be used by seniors who want to transfer to another seat in the tub. Or they can allow wheelchair access for individuals with disabilities.
Like bath chairs, transfer benches are also available in different models. They can have armrests, padded seats, and suction cups. Some models can even support seniors who weigh over 350 pounds.
While grab bars, transfer benches, and other products can make tubs safer for senior citizens, they are not enough to meet all elderly needs. After all, there’s more to taking a bath in tubs than just staying safe.
Seniors often have mobility issues that make it harder to take care of one’s self. As such, they need easy bathtub solutions when bathing or cleaning themselves.
Fortunately, there are specialized bathtub accessories that offer not only safety but also accessibility for seniors. It helps make it easier for the elderly to maintain their hygiene so that they can enjoy a more engaging bathing experience.
With that said, these accessible bathtub features are often more expensive than the bathing products we mentioned earlier. They would also require a handyman or professional contractor to install tubs. Still, you might find them worth the cost, especially given the benefits they provide for seniors.
A handheld shower is suitable for seniors who already feel safe in their bathtubs but still need help standing up. It is available with different showerheads, making it easy for the elderly to control features such as water temperature and pressure.
A handheld shower in bathtubs may also come in handy for senior individuals with arthritis or Parkinson’s disease. It has ergonomic handles, making it easy for someone to turn on the water and wash in the tub.
Like handheld showers, a lever tap installed in the bathtub can be beneficial for seniors. It can easily be gripped or controlled by seniors who have trouble grasping knob-type tubs or showers.
Fortunately, most tub manufacturers already offer ADA-compliant lever taps. This ensures that seniors and disabled individuals can use accessible fixtures in their bathtubs or showers at home.
Most standard tub models have high walls, which can increase the risk of falling. Fortunately, a bathtub cut out significantly lowers the probability of falling because of its unique design.
A contractor will “cut out” a wall from the tub to provide easier access to the bathtub. He or she can then refurbish the outside wall of the tub with a lower division, which allows individuals to walk in the bathtub easily.
Besides reducing the risk of falls, a bathtub cut-out also eliminates the need for a bath chair or transfer bench inside the soaking tub. Moreover, a bathtub cut-out can also include a swinging door or a door-insert. These optional accessories allow seniors to take advantage of the bathtub’s full height when bathing.
These bathing accessories are an upgraded, more accessible version of the standard bath chairs or transfer benches. They come with a set of rails or tracks that allow the elderly to sit inside the bathtub instead of outside. The rails also provide support for seniors who have difficulty carrying their body weight into the seat.
In addition, sliding bath chairs also include a seatbelt for enhanced safety and stability when taking a bath. Overall, sliding bath chairs are a far more convenient tool when getting in and out of tubs.
Bath lifts are seats designed to lower into the water and emerge again once an elderly individual is finished bathing. They are available in a myriad of designs and builds. Some models have a reclining back, while others have hinged flaps. Other versions are even operated using a wired controller.
Bath lifts ultimately make bathing safer and more comfortable for any elderly individual with mobility issues.
Are you still hesitant about bathtub accessories? Do you want to ensure that your elderly family member enjoys all the benefits of a safe tub? Or maybe the senior individual suffers from a specific condition such as arthritis, neuropathy, or restless leg syndrome? If so, a walk-in tub might be the best and most complete device for your bathing needs.
Walk-in tubs are special bathtubs that feature watertight doors and molded seats. Unlike conventional tubs, these unique tubs have a lower entry wall to provide easy access for seniors when getting in or out of the tub.
Moreover, walk-in tubs handle greater water capacity than standard tubs. Depending on the specific model, they can provide up to four feet of water depth compared to the standard tubs’ maximum depth of 13 to 14 inches.
Walk-in tubs are a great accessible and safe bathing choice for any elderly individual with mobility issues or disabilities. Read on below to learn the pros of walk-in tubs in your home.
The number one benefit of having a walk-in bathtub in your home is ensuring your safety.
Both walk-in tubs and showers offer essential safety features such as grab rails, anti-slip surfaces, and built-in seats. These help seniors stay stable when bathing, thus preventing any unwanted trips or falls. Plus, they can support older adults who struggle when standing for too long, thanks to their integrated shower seats.
What makes walk-in tubs entirely different from standard tubs is their therapeutic features. Depending on the specific model of the bathtub, walk-in tubs can offer benefits such as:
Additionally, walk-in tubs can help improve the conditions of individuals suffering from arthritis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and rheumatism.
Bathing is a personal and private activity. However, due to the aging process, seniors can suffer from limited mobility. Growing old restricts them from doing certain tasks on their own, such as bathing.
It’s also worth noting that most elderly are not comfortable having someone take care of their needs. Some older individuals may even feel guilty when asking for help. It’s all part of the aging process.
Fortunately, walk-in tubs or showers come fully equipped with safety features. These enable older individuals to wash or bathe themselves without the help of a caregiver or family member. They ultimately help the elderly regain their independence and confidence inside the bathroom.
Bathroom aesthetics might be the last thing on your mind, but you may be pleased to know that a walk-in bathtub or shower comes in a range of luxurious styles. Whether you want a modern or traditional design, you can choose from different kinds of wall panellings, doors, and taps for tubs.
You can have a perfectly accessible bathroom for seniors without sacrificing how it looks.
Since walk-in tubs ensure the safety of a senior citizen, they promote peace of mind.
With a walk-in bathtub or shower installed in an accessible bathroom, you can relax knowing that your elderly family member would be safe on their own.
A walk-in bathtub is, without a doubt, an excellent bathing aid for elderly individuals. However, if your purchasing decision lacks forethought, this special bathtub can still be challenging to use for a senior citizen.
That’s why it’s essential to look for specific features when shopping for a bathtub for the elderly. Here are some factors to consider to ensure a bathtub is safe and accessible for seniors.
Walk-in tubs are available in different sizes to suit each person’s needs. There is no such thing as an “oversized” bathtub, but it’s important to choose a tub that fits the elderly well.
So before purchasing a walk-in bathtub for your home, you have to consider an individual’s height and weight. Doing so helps you find the right tub that would give your family member the most immersive bathing experience.
Unlike standard bathtubs, walk-in tubs use fall-proof materials such as fiberglass, acrylic, and cast iron instead of slippery ones. These already ensure the safety of elderly individuals.
With that said, you still have to assess which bathtub material to choose, depending on your preferences and budget.
For instance, a fiberglass bathtub might be durable, but it is prone to scratching and color fading. On the plus side, it’s relatively affordable. An acrylic bathtub, on the other hand, is also strong but is more resistant to scratches and stains. The only downside is that it’s expensive and can be hard to replace.
Weighing these pros and cons can help you decide which bathtub material is suitable for your needs.
Walk-in tubs can come with a frame to support the exterior shell or be frameless. The tub’s frame is an important factor to consider, especially if the senior has limited mobility.
A framed bathtub is usually suspended a few inches above the floor by the frame. This design results in a higher threshold that an individual must step over to enter and exit the tub.
In contrast, a frameless bathtub is designed to rest directly on the ground, thus having a lower entry threshold. This makes it easier and safer for the elderly to get in and out of the bathtub.
You should also review the water features a walk-in bathtub might offer. These include water jets, air jets, or a soaking tub.
A bathtub with water jets delivers a strong water flow, which is suitable for any elderly individual who might want to enjoy a massage-like effect. However, it can be prone to bacteria or mold growth due to its recycled water system. As such, it is not recommended for seniors with respiratory problems and a compromised immune system.
In an air jet bathtub system, water does not get recycled, which allows the use of soaps, oils, and scents in the tub. But it provides a softer stream of water that is similar to a gentle rush of air. It also offers an adjustable water temperature setting.
Lastly, soaking tubs are comparable to standard tubs. They allow the use of soaps, oils, and shampoos. Plus, they are the cheapest walk-in bathtub option. With that said, they don’t offer therapeutic benefits.
Choosing the color of walk-in tubs might not seem like a big deal, but it’s important to soothe the elderly’s senses.
Invest in tubs that have cool colors such as shades of blue or green. These have a calming effect that can give seniors peace of mind while bathing.
Before purchasing a bathtub for your home, you should ensure that it passes minimum safety standards such as IAPMO (UPC), ASME, CSA, and UL certifications.
Here’s a brief guide on what these terms mean:
It’s also best to check in with tub manufacturers if their products are ADA-compliant. Bathtubs that are ADA-compliant are designed to make bathing safer and accessible for elderly individuals and persons with disabilities.
Each person is unique, so what’s accessible to someone might not be accessible to another individual. For any elderly individual who might rely on a wheelchair, you should invest in a walk-in bathtub with an outward-opening door.
As its name implies, it can open outwards, which exposes the entire side of the bathtub. This allows wheelchair access, making it easier for the elderly to transfer from the wheelchair to the built-in shower seat.
Lastly, you should check with tub manufacturers if they offer lifetime warranty in their products. Having a product warranty is useful if you need to replace or repair certain bathtub parts in your home.
However, while some tub manufacturers might provide a lifetime warranty, it might not apply to commercial installations. So make sure to read the complete warranty document to manage your expectations.
Now that you’re aware of the essential features to consider in tubs, you might be ready to purchase one for a family member.
You can find different types of walk-in tubs in various stores. Below are the three main places where you can check out tubs for sale.
You can directly contact a manufacturer if you want to ensure an easy and quick set-up.
Some brands, such as SafeStepand American Standard, can refer you to a local dealer to discuss your needs and installation budget. You don’t have to worry about looking for a contractor or handyman as the dealer will suggest personnel for the installation.
However, if you prefer a different contractor, it’s best to look into other methods.
If you opt to look for other manufacturers or want to see different models, you can go to your nearest home and bath store. Here, you can have a closer look at all the models available, so you’ll have an idea of how they will look in your bathroom.
This also gives you the freedom to choose among various brands, which may help keep your expenses down. The only downside is that some manufacturers may not provide labor warranties if you don’t choose their preferred contractors.
For those who want the widest variety of brands and models, you can shop in Amazon or online stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s. You’ll have plenty of options. Plus, prices can even be lower compared to physical stores!
However, you may need to find a contractor who will install the tub in your bathroom. You also have to further research on warranties because some online sellers will not be liable for any leaks or damages to the tub.
Check out tub reviews to learn what other customers are saying. Reading tub reviews is also a great way to know if the seller is reliable or not.
Walk-in tubs offer a lot of benefits, but they are far more expensive than standard tubs.
So, if you’re not yet ready to invest in walk-in tubs due to a lack of budget or resources, you can always consider buying old tubs.
While they don’t seem to be safe and accessible right off the bat, there’s a way to make them secure enough for senior citizens. For one, you can purchase bathtub accessories such as non-slip mats, grab bars, bath chairs, and lever taps. These are excellent budget-friendly options that help you achieve an accessible bathroom for the home.
When you’re taking care of an older family member, you must observe if they have balance or mobility issues. These are tell-tale signs that they are at risk of falls. And if you don’t intervene now, your bathroom can be the most dangerous place in the household.
Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to prevent falls. You can install safety bathroom features for a quick fix, or you can consider walk-in tubs for a more complete and permanent solution.
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Looking for dual bathtubs? Check out our article about the best dual bathtub for seniors to learn more.
If you're looking to purchase products that can help ensure a senior's safety, check out Senior Strong's resources on various senior safety products for the home today.