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Walk In Bathtubs for Seniors

William Rivers
 | 
October 26, 2020
walk in tub

The self-cleaning process can often be a tiresome task for seniors—especially for those with limited mobility. Fortunately, there's a solution for this: walk-in bathtubs for seniors. This amenity can instantly make bathing more accessible. All while offering safety and therapeutic benefits that traditional tubs cannot provide.

The market for walk-in tubs is pretty diverse too. There's a myriad of standard and custom walk-in tub features that might just suit your elderly loved one's unique needs.

Unfortunately, a walk-in tub is an option that not all people are aware of—and if they are, it's often considered a luxury due to its expensive cost. However, the comfort and independence that a walk-in tub grants the elderly may be well worth the cost.

But what exactly are walk-in bathtubs? How can seniors benefit from it? And how much do they typically cost?

What Are Walk-In Bathtubs?

Walk-in bathtubs are your typical bathtub with a door that allows the user to simply step into the tub with minimal effort. Due to their easy access, they are sometimes referred to as accessible bathtubs.

Walk-in tubs are primarily suited for older adults and individuals suffering from limited or impaired mobility. Designed with seniors in mind, walk-in tubs transform the bathroom into a safer private space.

Before the bath, the user must step in through the door and shut it before filling the tub with water. To prevent leakage, the bathtub door itself is watertight.

Unlike its more traditional counterparts, the walk-in bathtub is usually taller than it is wide. The odd dimensions make them wheelchair accessible. Even better, most walk-in tub models come with a built-in contoured seat for the bather's comfort.

Indeed, a walk-in bathtub is a curiosity to many. Some may view it as a non-negotiable bathroom addition for the elderly, while others consider it a luxury that only the few should consider.

Truly, no bathroom addition is as polarizing as the walk-in bathtub.

Are Walk-In Tubs Safe For Seniors?

The short answer: yes.

When choosing where to age, safety should be non-negotiable. For this reason, seniors who choose to age at home need amenities that guarantee their safety even if no one is around. After all, traditional bathing options can be risky, as seniors are often plagued by limited mobility or balance issues that can lead to falls.

Falls are the leading cause of lethal injury among older adults, with one senior dying every 19 minutes due to a fatal one. Indeed, statistics from the National Council on Aging show that one in four senior Americans falls each year. Alarmingly, most of these accidents occur within the confines of the bathroom.

Unless a caregiver attends to you or a loved one during bath time, taking extra caution when stepping in and out of the tub is essential. Otherwise, the simple act of taking a private bath at home can lead to a visit to the emergency room.

That said, it's crucial that the bathrooms at home can accommodate a senior's special needs. As a high-risk area, it's important to significantly reduce the potential of falls with the right modifications.

With a walk-in tub, seniors and their loved ones will be able to rest easy knowing that safety will no longer be a concern. This amenity combines both innovative and tried-and-tested features to make aging in place a whole lot safer. A walk-in tub can instantly transform the bathroom into your personal safe space.

Depending on which model you choose, most walk-in tubs have several built-in safety features. These features include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Low, safe step-in
  • Wheelchair-accessible door frames
  • Handrails or grab bars
  • Built-in seats
  • Slip-resistant surfaces

We are firm believers that convenience and safety go hand-in-hand. All these features should make it easy for mobility-restricted individuals to step in and out of the tub.

By bringing together safety and convenience, a walk-in bath offers an experience that regular tubs cannot easily replicate.

What Are The Benefits Of Walk-In Tubs?

Walk-in tubs are loaded with features that cater to the elderly's needs. To help you make an informed decision, here are the key benefits a walk-in tub can offer.

They Make Bathing Safer

Walk-in tubs are specially designed to make bath time as smooth and risk-free as possible. They're equipped with tons of safety features that can prevent "near-miss" incidents from ever occurring. A good walk-in tub often includes built-in handrails to support the user. Contoured and built-in seating also prevents cases of accidental drowning.

Many models boast a wide door to make them wheelchair accessible. No more trying to put one leg over the other in hopes of getting into the tub. With a walk-in tub, all you need to do is to open the door latch.

Paired with this is a low-step height for entry, which makes for a safe step and hassle-free transferring. Stepping in and out of the walk-in tub is such an easy process that even older adults can do it.

Worried about slipping while in the tub? The tub's anti-slip flooring should prevent otherwise. Not to mention, you've got handrails to hold onto if you're still unsure of flooring.

All these features make a walk-in bathtub an ideal pick for seniors with limited mobility or unstable balance. If you or your loved ones are at risk of injuring themselves in their personal space, a walk-in bath should give you comfort and peace of mind.

They Guarantee Maximum Comfort

A walk-in tub is more than just your typical soaker tub. Aside from the safety features it offers, a walk-in tub sports comfort amenities that traditional tubs usually don't provide.

For instance, walk-in bathtubs come with a convenient water heater that delivers hot water just the way you like it. But that's not the only thing heating up—mid-to-high-end models also include a heated backrest to relieve back sores. Other tubs also boast water jets and whirlpool systems that function as hydro-massagers.

While these features may seem like a luxury, they're practically a necessity for seniors. These amenities are built to make what is usually a tedious process far easier, bringing the bathing experience to greater heights.

They Help You Regain Your Independence

Adolescents and seniors are much more alike than we tend to believe. These two age groups fear one thing: losing their independence.

As you enter your senior years, you might fear that you will lose all sense of privacy and freedom. If you do, then you're not alone in your fears. Studies show that older adults fear losing their independence. In fact, more seniors fear being caged in and watched over 24/ 7 more than dying.

If you want your loved one to live life to the fullest, a walk-in bathtub should be among your top considerations. After all, a walk-in tub adds a layer of freedom to their daily lives.

These tubs come with safety features that drastically minimize the need for assistance during bathing time, letting seniors retain their independence. This difference can mean the world for those who value their private time.

They Make Bathing Even More Therapeutic

It's no secret that dipping into a soaker tub after a long day is a therapeutic experience.

According to studies, hot water bathing can significantly improve cardiovascular health among the middle-aged and elderly. A therapeutic bath can be all you need to clear the mind, body, and soul.

The benefits of warm water for seniors are endless. Warm water baths are known to reduce aches and pains that frequently come with age. They also accelerate the healing process for certain injuries, such as burns and ulcers.

While standard bath tubs come with water heaters, they do not offer the same type of amenity that walk-in tubs do.

For one, a walk-in bathtub refines the hydrotherapeutic benefits of bathing. Hydrotherapy refers to the use of water to relieve pain, treat certain ailments, and improve overall health. Through water jets and whirlpool systems, seniors get to experience hydrotherapy from a walk-in tub.

Older adults who suffer from muscle problems such as arthritis should find great comfort in hydrotherapy. It also works great for amputees who are recovering from a recent operation.

Many mid-to-high range walk-in tubs specifically offer features like hydrotherapy jets and built-in water heaters to aid seniors with their ailments. Hydrotherapy jets agitate the water at certain angles, making it form ripples that can land on sore areas. The effect mimics a deep massage capable of restoring vitality. It's like having a spa right at home.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Walk-In Tub?

When making a purchase, you should always consider how much you're willing to spend on the advantages you're getting. That being said, walk-in tubs do not come cheap. They can actually be quite pricey.

Pricing for walk-in tubs varies depending on the complexity and the combined features you're looking for.

Even the most affordable walk-in tubs can set you back by at least $1,000, not including the inspection and installation fees. There are options just under the thousand-dollar mark, but those options are rare and could be outdated.

For lower-range models, expect to pay $2,500 (inclusive of installation free) upfront. For higher-end tubs loaded with impressive features, you'll most likely need to shell out at least $10,000.

Part of the reason why installing a walk-in tub can be so expensive is due to the installation itself. If you can't or don't want to have a professional install one for you, you might want to opt for alternatives like portable tubs instead.

Whether you're looking for a permanent setup or a movable one, you must consider how you will finance the tub and its installation.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that Medicare does not consider walk-in tubs as Durable Medical Equipment (DME). This means that Medicare insurance might not cover the costs of purchasing and installing the walk-in tub. However, it's still worth checking to see your state's regulations and if you can get some type of financial assistance on walk-in tubs.

Are Walk-In Tubs Worth The Money?

Installing a walk-in bathtub is a considerable investment, and just like any investment, it requires extensive research and planning.

When deciding whether walk-in tubs are right for you, there are several factors you need to consider. It is vital to assess your personal situation and requirements. Just because you belong to the same age group doesn't mean that you share the same needs.

Before you take the plunge into the variety of tubs, here are some key questions to guide you in your decision-making.

How Is My Mobility?

Part of the allure of walk-in tubs is that they cater to all types of seniors. However, the primary reason why walk-in tubs are so popular in senior care is that they help mobility-restricted individuals safely enjoy the benefits of bathing.

It's worth noting, though, not all types of mobility restrictions are the same.

Do you have trouble stepping in and out of a standard tub? Do you struggle to sit in a tub without a dedicated seat? How difficult is it for you to walk?

It is important answer these questions before making the purchase. An honest assessment of your mobility in the bathroom will help you gauge how much support you need.

If you struggle with stepping in and out of high-step baths, then that's a good indication that an amenity like the walk-in bath suits your needs. If sitting is your primary concern, you may opt for a bath chair instead. On the other hand, walking-impaired individuals can greatly benefit from the features that come with the walk-in tub.

Is My Home Plumbing Okay?

Remodeling and renovating the household is a chore, to say the least.

One disadvantage of a walk-in bathtub is that they're not the easiest pieces to install. If your drain pipe and water system aren't in suitable conditions, then a walk-in tub might not be for you.

Not to mention, the installation process for tubs can take some time to finish, which can also cause disturbances in your home. To ensure that you're getting the best installation services, make sure you're getting it done by a certified tub specialist.

If installation and remodeling are things you want to avoid, there's a portable tub option for you.

Instead of going through the installation and remodeling phases, you can choose from an array of portable walk-in bathtubs available today. Portable walk-in bathtubs require no installation to get going, but they don't always have the same features that a fixed walk-in tub has.

What Are My Alternatives?

Before you make your final decision, it helps to look around similar offerings to know what you're getting into. Fortunately, there are tons of walk-in tub alternatives.

For those with limited mobility, there are other modifications you can do to make stepping in a bathroom safer for a senior. Here are some alternatives to a walk-in tub you might want to consider:

  • Bath Lifts: A bath lift is an assistive medical device that gently lowers or lifts an individual in and out of a bathtub. It's perfect for individuals who enjoy baths but have trouble getting into the tub in the first place. The advantage of the bath lift is that they're markedly cheaper than walk-in tubs, and requires no heavy installation.
  • Non-slip mats: If you prefer showering over a dip, you may choose to place non-slip mats on the tub floor. A non-slip mat allows you to navigate the shower area without fear of slipping. This option, however, is not ideal for individuals suffering from more severe immobility.
  • Shower chairs: The shower chair is another option for shower lovers. Shower chairs keep the user stable while they're taking a shower. They also provide a place for the user to rest while showering.
  • Grab bars: For any bathroom, grab bars make for simple yet effective safety additions. Strategically placed grab bars give seniors something to hold onto as they transition in and out of the bathtub.

While these at-home alternatives are certainly nifty, walk-in tubs remain superior in terms of convenience, safety, and comfort. However, a walk-in tub's price tends to go beyond what we usually consider cheap. Again, it all boils down to how much are you willing to spend on the benefits offered by walk-in tubs.

If you think the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, then having your personal walk-in tub is a sound investment.

What Is The Cheapest Walk-In Tub in 2021?

Walk-in tubs have a variety of options at different price points. However, researching can tedious and time-consuming. If you care for your loved one, then you need to make sure you're quick on your feet. Luckily, we've browsed the catalogs for you and picked out the cheapest and best walk-in tubs today.

When we say cheap, we don't simply consider the upfront price. We also take into consideration how costs amount to the features they offer. Here are our top picks for the right walk-in tub:

1. Ella's Bubbles Deluxe Acrylic Walk-In Bathtub

The Ella's Bubble Deluxe Acrylic Walk-In Bathtub is perfect for the average senior bather. It combines all the necessary features you will need in one affordable bathtub.

What's great about the Deluxe is that it allows you to customize the features you want to see in your tub.

Looking for a hydro massage system in your tub? Ella's Bubbles' hydropump system includes multiple hydro jets and an in-line hot water heater that directs hot water into focal points in the body.

The Deluxe tub can even be customized to include a microbubble system. Ella Infusion™ MicroBubble Therapy consists of a single microbubble jet connected to a dedicated tank system. The system breaks down water molecules into billions of tiny bubbles. These bubbles both moisturize and exfoliate the skin as you cleanse.

If that's not enough, you even get a lifetime warranty on shell, frame, and door parts from the original seller.

Though originally priced at $4,983, the Deluxe now sits at $3,986.40 as a recent sale has now reduced its cost. The Deluxe is the cheapest and best walk-in bathtub available right now. You can save up to $990 dollars with this tub—a total steal if you ask us.

2. Gelcoat Value Series 30x52-inch Outward Opening Door Soaking Walk-In Bathtub - Left Door and Drain

American Standard is one of the leading makers of bathtubs and walk-in tubs in the world. As leaders in the industry, American Standard offers only top-quality bathtubs designed with the user in mind. Here are the key features of this amazing tub:

  • A leak-proof outward-opening door seal makes getting into the tub so easy, while also lessening the risk of injuries.
  • Quick Drain® copyright 2020 technology rapidly pumps water out of the tub in just 2 minutes, guaranteeing that no additional plumbing is needed to make bathing faster.
  • Built-in safety bars and non-slip flooring ensure that you have a safe step into the tub.
  • A built-in chair in the tub allows the user to sit comfortably with enough legroom to enjoy the bath.
  • Hi-gloss Gelcoat with easy-to-use buttons, a handheld showerhead, and a polished chrome drain makes bathing feel like a complete luxury.

The Gelcoat Value Series 30x52 should give you peace of mind and a sense of independence while bathing. Priced at only $5,942, it is one of the most affordable and best walk-in tub options on the market. The Gelcoat is packed with convenient features that should make bathing at home a breeze.

3. American Standard 2848.109.WLL Gelcoat Value Whirlpool

Another stellar selection from American Standard, the Gelcoat Value Whirlpool tub makes an excellent centerpiece for your bathroom. This walk in tub comes fully equipped with all the best safety and comfort features.

  • A watertight door with a low threshold takes away all the hassle involved in getting into the tub.
  • The Whirlpool Massage System features 13 water jets and an in-line water heater for the best massage you can get. You can choose from a number of settings based on your liking. Choose the legs-only option for a soothing and invigorating leg massage without any of the annoyances.
  • An Ozone Self-Cleaning Sanitation system guarantees that your tubs' system runs clean before and after every bath.
  • Durable, hi-gloss Gelcoat matches most bathroom furnishings.
  • Built-in safety bars and a textured tub floor ensures that you're getting the right walk-in tub every time you step into your bathtub.
  • Get a lifetime warranty on the door seal, along with a 10-year warranty on the tub shell. For the other components, you get a 5-year warranty.

At only $5,688.75 for all these fantastic features, the Gelcoat Whirlpool is a total steal, and may be the right walk-in tub for you and your home.

4. Ariel EZWT-3060 Walk-In Bathtub DUAL R 60X30X37

Ariel has been in business for 15 years now. You know you're getting something of top-quality from a company that's been thriving for more than a decade. One of Ariel's finest walk-in tub selection is the Ariel 3060 Dual. Designed with simplicity in mind, the 3060 Dual combines the most essential safety and convenience features.

Capable of withstanding 90 gallons of hot water, the 3060 Dual allows a full soak if desired. A seat height-to-width ration of 17:25 (in inches) makes it perfect for almost all seniors. To ensure its perks are accessible, the 3060 Dual comes in either left or right configurations.

The model features 20 air jets and six hydro massagers for maximum comfort. These air jets are great for those who prefer a more gentle massage. For those who need a stronger massage, the built-in aqua jets can do that just for you.

While the features are mostly limited and basic, it's perfect for those unbothered by additional perks. The 3060 Dual currently sits at $2,899—making it the cheapest walk-in tub with basic features. For those who value simplicity over anything else, the 3060 Dual is the one for you.

Conclusion

A walk-in tub is bound to elevate a senior's bathing experience to greater heights. Having a walk-in tub right at home is one step to make bathing safer, more convenient, and just better overall.

Walk-in tubs are excellent senior care addition to any home housing an older adult. Aging in place has never been easier.

Given all the preparations you need to make when purchasing a walk-in tub, the process itself can be a hassle. Like all costly investments, we know that making an expensive decision like buying a walk-in tub can be troubling.

That's why here at Senior Strong, we want to make the process of buying a walk-in tub easier for you. Just because you're investing in something personal doesn't mean that you have to do it alone!

If you want to learn more about various walk-in tubs that you can use at home, check out our vast resources and reviews on walk-in tubs today!

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