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Walk-in Tub for Seniors: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Upon reaching a certain age, seniors may find it a little challenging to climb into their bathtub for a relaxing soak. Lifting your knee becomes more difficult, and there are often concerns about slipping, falling, and other potential injuries that come with a regular bath design.

The solution to this is a walk-in tub for seniors. When used correctly, they can alleviate many of the issues and concerns in people with limited mobility. However, not all walk-in tubs are built the same and there are certainly some concerns when using one.

The good

When looking for a walk-in bath, it’s important to consider your personal needs. Depending on your weight and height, you may need to look for a walk-in tub that fits your size. Some tubs may seem a little too big and offer too much space, while others have slim doors that you may have trouble fitting through.

Here are a couple of features that you should look out for when choosing a walk-in tub.

Safety features

Most reputable walk-in tub manufacturers such as American Tubs will already have safety features such as built-in safety handlebars. This can make it a lot easier to get in and out of the walk-in tub, as well as assist you in getting on and off the built-in seat. Anti-slip flooring is another important safety feature that you need to consider. Most tubs will have some kind of flooring material to ensure that you don’t slip, but others may require you to place some kind of mat to help you keep your footing.

A water-tight seal

Since walk-in tubs have a door on the side, you may be concerned about accidentally opening it or having water leak out from the side. Thankfully, most quality bathtubs are going to have a water-tight seal on the door that prevents water from leaking out. In addition, the weight of the water usually means that you won’t be able to easily open the door, especially if the door is an in-swing entrance door.

Wall shower, built-in shower, or no shower?

You’ll also want to consider if you want a walk-in tub that can take advantage of an existing wall shower, or if you want a tub that only has a water faucet. However, you can also get walk-in tubs that have extendable shower heads which can be useful for washing your hair. Some seniors prefer to have their shower separate because they like having multiple options. It might also be a better option for shared bathrooms that aren’t used exclusively by the senior.

High-end features for a luxury experience

Some walk-in baths also come with high-end features that offer a much more luxurious experience. For example, the backrest can be heated in some walk-in tubs, making it a lot more comfortable for you to get in and relax while the water fills. Some may even have whirlpool jets which can make it double as a jacuzzi, and some have multiple drains so you can get out of the walk-in bath without needing to wait a long time for it to empty.

Low threshold entry

You should also take a look at how high the step is to climb into the walk-in tub. Some walk-in tubs have a relatively high step which can be fine to climb into, but it might be difficult to actually get off the tub and back onto your bathroom floor.

The bad

Now let’s talk about some things that you may want to think twice about when choosing a walk-in tub.

Do you have enough space?

While most reputable walk-in tub manufacturers ensure that their tubs can fit a standard opening, you may want to double-check if your chosen tub can actually fit. Some tubs are also designed to be freestanding, meaning they shouldn’t have walls around them due to their shape or look. These can often be easier to install in a larger bathroom. You’ll also find much smaller walk-in tubs that are great for small bathrooms, though they can feel a little cramped.

Is a walk-in tub worth the investment?

Some manufacturers will charge a little more for walk-in tubs because their sale volume is much lower and they require a bit more effort to install into a bathroom. This can raise the cost of a walk-in tub and it can often be a little more expensive than a typical bathtub. However, it’s worth remembering that the features that come with a high-end walk-in tub are often worth the extra cost and will put it in line with a luxurious traditional bathtub.

The ugly

Walk-in tubs aren’t perfect and there are a couple of concerns that may put you off considering one.

You have to sit in the bath as it fills

Walk-in tubs must be filled with the door closed and there’s no opening it once it’s filled. This means you have to sit in the tub as it fills, and this could be extremely uncomfortable for some people. The water may be far too cold as it fills up, meaning you’ll have to raise your feet up or turn on the tap and leave the drain open while it heats up. You might also accidentally scald yourself if the water comes out too hot.

Water usage is also a concern

Walk-in tubs tend to hold a lot more water than a traditional bathtub. This means you’ll be using a lot more water per bath than alternatives, and you may also be using a lot more energy to heat the water as well. Small walk-in tubs can get around this, but it’s still something worth considering if you plan to install a walk-in tub.

Conclusion

Walk-in tubs can be a great addition to any home, but they do come with a few disadvantages that you should definitely think about before you decide to install one in your home. However, these minor inconveniences are often worth the added benefits of being able to bathe independently without outside assistance.

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Written by
Mitchell Clay

Proud father and husband. A big comic book nerd and sweets are my kryptonite. I fell in love with the remodeling industry in 2008 and it's held a tight grip on me ever since.

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