For many elderly or handicapped people, the simple act of taking a bath can be difficult, if not impossible. Add to that the worry of taking a fall or not being able to get out of the tub once they’re in, and they lose one of the great joys of life – just relaxing in a hot bath and letting it wash the cares of the day away.
While some people may have a spouse or other caregiver who can help them get in and out of the tub, not everyone does. And even those that do might not want to feel the loss of independence this can cause.
Fortunately there is a solution – walkin bathtubs.
A walk in tub is exactly what you would expect – a bathtub that lets you walk in without having to step over the side. These bathtubs generally have a hinged door that opens to allow easy access, then seals tightly to avoid any leaks when the tub is filled with water.
These tubs generally have a seat molded into them to allow someone to sit down without having to lower and raise themselves completely. Since this is often the most difficult part of taking a bath for someone with a disability, it makes the entire experience much easier and less prone to accidents.
Types Of Step In Bathtubs
There are various sizes and styles of walk-in tubs, and even handicap showers. Tubs like the American Standard 2848.100.S have an easy-access door and a chair-height seat to make it easy for people with limited mobility to enter and exit. Other models, such as the MediTub 3060WCARWH are fully wheelchair-accessible, with a larger door and a seat that makes it easy to transfer from a wheelchair.
Walk-in tubs are available in various sizes and configurations, to allow for installation in various sizes and layouts of bathroom. If you want to avoid a major bathroom remodeling project to install a handicap tub, there is likely a model that will fit your existing floor plan.
The Thera-Tub Soaker, for example, is a smaller model that is ideal for apartments or mobile homes with limited space. This particular bathtub has a front-facing swing out door to allow installation in very tight quarters.
Many tubs, such as the Thera-Tub and American Standard models, have various options you can choose from such as jacuzzi-style jets and right- or left-orientation. It’s always a good idea to discuss the options with your plumber before deciding on a specific model, so you are sure to get the right one for your particular needs.
While these tubs can be purchased by anyone through various suppliers – both online and local – they do require a certain level of plumbing knowledge. Make sure the installation is handled by someone with the proper knowledge and skills, otherwise it may affect both the user’s safety and the warranty on the tub.
Many people prefer a shower to a bath, but standing for any length of time may be just as difficult as lowering themselves into a bathtub. A walk-in shower/bathtub combination can solve this problem as well.
These combo units are similar to bathtub-only models. They have a door that allows easy access, along with a chair-height seat to make it easy to get in and out. The difference is they also have a shower head, and a full-height enclosure, much like a shower stall that you might find in many bathrooms. The shower head is situated in such a way that a person can enjoy a shower while seated on the built-in seat.
Again, there are various options available, such as the MediTub 2747SENRWDC shower/bathtub combination. This particular model allows for the shower enclosure to be completely removed, so it can be converted into a pure bathtub if desired. The MediTub even has an inline water heater for ultimate temperature control.
Converting Existing Bathtubs
Another option, if you don’t want to completely replace your existing bathtub, is a lift that will lower and raise you from the bathtub. The Seabridge EZ Bath Lift is a seat that installs across a standard bathtub. This seat will support a weight of up to 300 pounds, and has a remote control to raise and lower the seat. You simply sit on this seat and lower yourself into the tub using the remote control, then raise yourself back up when done.
The bath lift isn’t for everyone, as you still need to be able to raise your legs over the side of the tub (while seated on the lift seat) but it can work wonders for someone with limited strength and mobility to get in and out of the tub. And of course, the price is much lower since it doesn’t need any kind of major redesign to install it.
Where To Buy
There are various websites that specialize in walk-in and other types of therapy tubs. Amazon.com carries many brands and models, or you can choose a more specialized site such as FaucetDirect.com or USMedicalSupplies.com. You can often save a reasonable amount of money by ordering from the internet rather than a local plumbing supply store, but make sure you have someone local who can help you choose the right model as well as handle the installation for you.
And of course, most cities have plumbing suppliers that can help you find the right model. You might also find a supplier that specializes in handicap equipment, who can help you with more than just a bathtub.
Don’t let a loss of mobility take away your independence. A walk-in tub can help you stay independent and continue to enjoy the soothing effect of a bath or shower for years to come.