Walk-in tubs or other senior-friendly bathtubs offer concrete solutions for older adults who intend to age in place. These tubs can give your home a much-needed senior-friendly upgrade to ensure safety at all times. Keep in mind, however, that they may not always be the right choice for everyone.
Walk-in tubs have their pros and cons, so allow us to walk you through them before you make your decision.
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There are many benefits to purchasing walk-in tubs — particularly for their advanced safety and therapeutic features. Since one out of four people aged 65 and above fall every year, walk-in tubs offer a reasonable fix for enhancing the safety in your home.
Compared to traditional bathtubs, walk-in tubs are considered a lot safer. By nature of their design, users do not have to overextend when entering the tub. This significantly reduces the chances one may have of getting into an accident, slipping, or falling.
In most cases, these have additional safety features, such as seats, textured surfaces and grips, grab bars, slip-proof flooring, and more. Walk-in tubs also do not have sliding doors, which are a common cause of accidents — especially among seniors who hold onto them without realizing that they do not offer sufficient support.
There are numerous therapeutic and health-related add-ons for walk-in tubs. Hydrotherapy can be beneficial for those who have chronic pain or suffer from mobility-related ailments, and walk-in tubs can improve circulation in the body with the help of whirlpool jets. You may be able to get a full body massage from your walk-in tub and soothe your sore muscles, depending on the model.
The additional jets and mechanisms help maintain the water temperature, making for a pleasant and relaxing bathing experience akin to a hot tub. Some tubs may even have chromotherapy lights to enhance your overall relaxation and put you at ease while you soak.
Lots of walk-in tubs available today have self-cleaning mechanisms to make clean-ups easy. Newer technologies include purging features that get rid of mold in your tub, as well as other sanitation systems to reduce the possibility of growing bacteria, viruses, and chemical build-up. There are even tubs with UV lights to kill these germs.
The drains of walk-in tubs are working a lot faster, meaning you do not have to wait too long after the water drains before getting out of the tub. When you want to clean the tub on your own, not much work has to be done. All you have to do is rinse its surfaces weekly with mild cleaners and purge the whole mechanism on a monthly basis.
Walk-in tubs generally have extra-wide seats positioned in such a way that your torso will be fully submerged while bathing. Some tubs even have heated seats to ensure that the water is at an optimal temperature throughout your bath. Hydrotherapy, again, can bring you more comfort and ease tension in your muscles and other forms of body pain.
Since walk-in tubs usually have jets to increase the water pressure, buoyancy, and the like, you may notice how the tightness in your muscles will be relieved. This also facilitates the release of endorphins, which combats pain.
Like any other product in the market, there are certain caveats for purchasing walk-in tubs. From steep costs to complicated installations and the like, there may be a few points to consider before making your purchase.
The overall cost for a walk-in tub is far more than a traditional bathtub, particularly because of the extra features they contain. On average, a walk-in tub is priced between $2,000 and $10,000. In addition to this, you may have to pay extra installation costs and possibly even maintenance fees.
You may also have to pay more if your home’s existing plumbing and electrical routing are outdated. You’ll have to factor in the costs for updating these features, prior to installing the actual walk-in tub. If you are wondering if this applies to you, you can ask the walk-in tub company or provider to assess your current system.
Due to their size, some walk-in tubs are able to contain a lot more water compared to regular tubs in the market. Excessive water usage can be harmful to the environment, not to mention, negatively affect your water and electricity bills.
Walk-in tubs may also take longer to fill due to their depth. The door must be closed while waiting for the water to fill or drain, usually taking fifteen minutes. Because of this, you may be shocked by drastic temperatures since you can only enter when it is full. This leaves your body with less time to acclimatize to the water’s temperature, making you too hot or too cold.
As mentioned above, walk-in tubs take a considerable amount of time to fill. Some models also have swing-out doors to supposedly make entering the tub easier, but this also increases the possibility of flooding. In the event that the door is not securely latched or closed, the pressure of all the water from the tub can flood out.
This can be extremely dangerous and can cause even more problems down the line. If you do not want to take the risk — especially if you live alone — you may be better off without a walk-in tub, or with a model with different types of enclosures.
Walk-in tubs are not the easiest utilities to install. As mentioned, you may have to check if your home has up-to-date plumbing and electrical systems to ensure that the tub can be installed in the first place. Depending on the material, installation can differ. Acrylic tubs are on the heavier side, making them much more complicated to install.
You may have a simpler and faster time installing gel-coat tubs as they are lighter and easier to maneuver. Medicare does not cover the costs for installation (or for the tubs themselves) as they are not classified as Durable Medical Equipment (DME).
The average price of installing a new walk-in tub starts at just under $10,000, depending on what kind of product and labor is needed. This figure doesn't include any other costs like plumbing work, so make sure about everything first before starting anything at home.
Walk-in tubs usually take 10 minutes to fill up completely, but keep in mind that this number ultimately depends on your home’s water pressure and water fixtures.
For a regular size walk-in tub, the recommended minimum tank size for electric or gas water heaters is 50 gallons. That said, the size of the water heater in a walk-in tub is not usually directly proportional to its dimensions. For instance, if you only plan on using your new bathtub for washing up or soaking after exercise then it may be enough to just have ten gallons worth of hot water available at any given moment.
Walk-in bathtubs can range anywhere from 20 to 45 inches high with taller models requiring less than shorter ones. If that's not enough, petite size walk-in baths are also available as well as full shower enclosures that are built into a pedestal frame.
A soaker tub is a basic walk-in bathtub that has no hydrotherapy jets. Most entry-level units come with a leak-proof door and grab bar, as well as a handheld shower accessory for convenience.
Walk-in tubs have a fair amount of pros and cons, so the decision to make your purchase depends on which side outweighs the other. Be sure to consider your particular needs and capabilities. After all, these mechanisms are a pricey investment, but they can also make your life much safer and simpler.