As we grow older, many everyday activities that we normally take for granted become harder to do. For many senior citizens today, a walk-in bathtub is making time spent in the bathroom much safer, particularly for those in assisted living.
Walk-in bathtubs have a watertight door that accommodates people with disabilities or mobility issues so that they can step in and out of the bathtub more easily. In many cases, they take the place of a traditional bathtub and there are many different types and configurations to meet the needs of almost every customer and housing layout.
If you find yourself in the market for a walk-in bathtub of your own, here are some things you may want to take into consideration before making the purchase…
Adults older than 65 years of age suffer the greatest number of fatal falls according to the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/falls), and 20-30% of those who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries as a result. The addition of a walk-in bathtub in the home drastically reduces the risk of falling by decreasing the height of the threshold of the tub that people have to step over to get in. Walk-in tubs also often include other features such as built-in handrails, anti-slip flooring, and contoured seating to help reduce the risk or fall.
Conversely, one issue noted with walk-in bathtubs is the water temperature. Since you must enter the tub before filling it, one is not able to test and adjust the temperature of the water before getting in. Additionally, since you have to sit in the bathtub while it fills, it’s possible to become acclimated to dangerous water temperatures during that time. Most tubs do come equipped with a scald prevention valve, but it is still a possibility to consider when purchasing a walk-in bathtub.
A nice feature of most walk-in tubs is that they have deeper walls than a traditional tub, which allows for a deeper water level when bathing. Most traditional tubs have a depth around 13 to 14 inches, while walk-in tubs can provide up to roughly 4 feet depending on the model, allowing for a comfortable experience while sitting upright.
However, because of the deeper walls the time to fill and drain can take quite a bit more time. You also have to keep the door closed during this process, so it means you have to spend the entire time sitting in the tub, leaving you exposed to the air for up to several minutes. Some models come equipped with rapid draining features to speed this process up, and heated seat options are also available to prevent becoming too chilled during the filling and draining process. It all depends on your desired comfort level.
One important thing to keep in mind is that many walk-in bathtub models come equipped with multiple features all combined in one tub. Meaning, rather than having to purchase many modifications and add-ons for your bathtub, features like over tub seats, handrails, anti-scald valves, and non-slip flooring already come standard on many models. This saves time both in terms of making modifications and in the construction during the remodeling process.
That said, walk-in bathtubs can be rather pricey, and depending on your insurance coverage, costs can range from anywhere between $3,000 well up to $25,000 after installation costs. It’s important to talk to your insurance provider and the installer to find out what features and how much of the cost of walk-in tub are covered by insurance.
Lastly, while not necessarily a pro/con consideration, it’s important to note the dimensions of your bathroom and the size of tub it can support. To help with that, get the measurements of your tub, both inside and out.
Consider questions like:
How wide is the tub?
Will it fit through any narrow doorways or hallways in the house?
Will you need a tub door what opens inwards or outwards?
How big is the tub door, and can you walk through it easily?
How big is the tub seat in width and depth? Can you sit in it comfortably?
What is the desired water depth, and how much water does it take to fill the tub? Depending on the amount of hot water needed, you may need to consider replacing your hot water tank as well.
By no means is this a comprehensive list, every customer and household is different. Nonetheless, all potential buyers should consider these questions, and the important factors of safety, comfort, and cost before purchasing their own walk-in bathtub.