A walk-in tub can turn a standard bathroom into a spa, and there’s no bad time to install one. Everybody enjoys a good soak, but limited bathroom footprints make it difficult to install traditional soaking options, so a walk-in tub is a great alternative. For seniors, the bathroom is a room filled with potential dangers. Each year, the CDC estimates nearly 235,000 people experience a bathroom-related injury, and falls account for 81.1% of those injuries.
Bathtubs are wet and slippery, a sometimes intimidating combination for people with mobility challenges. One out of four seniors aged 65 and older fall each year, and falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and trauma-related hospital admissions. Here are a few things that might indicate that it’s time to install a walk-in tub, along with the potential costs involved.
If you or a loved one has stopped bathing regularly, it may be a sign that getting in and out of the bath, or shower, is becoming difficult. Tub and shower combinations can be particularly daunting since many require a deep knee bend to get over the lip of the tub. If a senior in your care starts exhibiting poor hygiene, it may be time to explore other bathing options.
For some, that might mean installing a stand-alone shower stall, but for many seniors a walk-in tub is an option that also allows for soaking and helps with sore muscles. Also, switching to a shower-only bathroom might lower property values, making it harder for seniors to access some funding sources, such as reverse mortgages.
Before making any major decisions, it is important to seek medical advice. Some people with disabilities may not be able to bathe without assistance. Others can maintain independence longer with a walk-in bathtub. A doctor can provide more insight into a senior’s current physical condition and discuss what physical limitations might impact their ability to handle self-care. Even seniors in good general health may have moments of disorientation or vertigo, increasing the risk of a fall. A doctor is best able to assess the risk factors and make recommendations about home improvements and modifications necessary for safe senior living.
A walk-in tub might not be the only solution for people with disabilities, but some form of accessible hygiene is necessary. For an accessible shower stall, the doorway must be wide enough to accommodate mobility aids, such as shower seats and grab bars. Walk-in tubs often include safety handles, and the doors may be designed to allow seated entry. While some seniors may be able to live safely at home without a walk-in tub, people with mobility challenges might find staying clean and healthy easier with a tub that has a swinging door.
Walk-in tubs come in a wide range of styles and with a variety of features. The price of the tub often depends on the feature package, and installation can also be wildly different in individual homes. During an installation that requires no additional supports to redistribute the weight of the water, installation is often less expensive. The potential cost can range from $3,000 to more than $20,000 for a walk-in tub and installation.
Walk-in tubs come equipped with a variety of standard safety features that help minimize the risk of falling. In addition to ADA-compliant seating, grab bars and non-slip flooring are part of the design features.