Page Reviewed / Updated – May 18, 2020

Many caregivers face a series of tough decisions when it comes to senior care. One of the biggest is when to start looking at alternatives to at-home care. With the right home modifications and some outside assistance, many seniors can remain at home for much of their retirement. A walk-in tub is one of the modifications that can dramatically improve home safety, allowing seniors to more easily enter the bathtub and maintain good personal hygiene. Selecting the right style of walk-in tub is its own challenge. Here are a few factors to consider and pricing information to help caregivers select a walk-in tub option that is within budget and has the right combination of features.

1. Is a Walk-In Tub Necessary?

When seniors start to have trouble getting into and out of the bathtub, a walk-in tub is an affordable option that can extend their stay at home. When it becomes necessary to install grab bars near the toilet or an additional railing to provide extra stability, it is likely also time to consider installing a walk-in tub. Seniors with poor balance or other mobility challenges may need a lower entry to successfully enjoy a soak.

2. How to Select the Right Style

If ordering a walk-in tub early in the aging process, seniors might be able to manage nearly any design. However, consider planning for long-term use. If your loved one plans to remain at home for as long as possible, take a look at walk-in tubs with wheelchair accessibility, even if it isn’t needed right now. Many conditions that affect mobility can increase in severity over time. While some walk-in tubs may be more expensive in a wheelchair-accessible design, having the option available can add peace of mind for caregivers.

3. Is Installing a Walk-In Tub a Major Home Modification?

In some homes, swapping out an existing tub for one with a walk-in door and spa functions is fairly straightforward. A wide doorway into the bathroom is often the sticking point from an accessibility standpoint. For those who need an extra-wide doorway, installation can be more complicated, since altering doorways means reviewing home plans to ensure no structural changes result. Walk-in tubs are often more compact than fully reclined alternatives, so it fits more easily into a small bathroom. For high-capacity tubs, have the installer check the floor to be sure it will handle the extra load.

4. Will Installing a Walk-In Tub Affect Home Values?

For many seniors, their home is their largest investment. Changes that might lower the value can also affect their ability to pay for care as it becomes necessary. Installing a walk-in tub does not usually lower home values. If installed in a secondary bathroom or in an area that has an aging population, a walk-in tub might actually increase the property value. A recent article in Realtor Magazine mentions that tubs are essential for many buyers, and that the right marketing positions the walk-in tub as a desirable upgrade for buyers of any age.

5. What Does It Cost to Install a Walk-In Tub?

Including the price of the tub, the cost starts at around $3,000 and can run upwards of $20,000, depending on the style of the tub and the changes needed for the installation, according to recent market research. Costs vary dramatically based on the features included and the extras needed for installation. For example, a walk-in tub with a heating element may require the installation of a dedicated circuit to power the unit. Tubs that hold a lot of water might also mean upgrading the hot water heater to fill the basin.

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6. Is Financing Available?

While most walk-in tub manufacturers do not offer to finance, some third-party sellers may have payment options. In addition, seniors who qualify for Medicaid may also be eligible for financial assistance with the cost of some home modifications. Before buying, be sure to explore all of the options when it comes to paying for a walk-in tub.

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