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Should I Get A Walk-In Tub? The Pros And Cons

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Walk-in tubs have many wonderful benefits but there are also some disadvantages as well.  Some pros are that it reduces the risk of falling, it improves independence, gives it’s users the benefits of hydrotherapy and more.  Some cons are higher water bills, cost, potential leaking and more.

For a lot of us, taking a luxurious warm bath is a wonderful way to unwind, relax and regain some mental health. But for many seniors, this luxury can become a chore.  Walk-in tubs can be a wonderful option for older adults who enjoy taking a bath but are having difficult getting in and out of a standard bathtub.

If you are considering purchasing and installing a walk-in tub in your home – read on to understand what the pros and cons of a walk-in tub are.

8 Pros Of A Walk-In Tub

Here are the 8 benefits / upsides of a walk-in tub.

1. Helps Those With Mobility Issues

For anyone that has a mobility issue, a walk-in tub is a very easy solution to the problem. Whether you use a walker, a cane or a wheelchair, there are tubs that can accommodate your needs. Like the Ella Transfer60 tub that I found on Amazon – it is built so that a wheelchair bound person can get in and out of the tub easily.

2. Combo Units

The walk-in tubs today also have shower features. As an Occupational Therapist I would often recommend walk-in tubs for some of my patients but back then, the shower features were not included. So, seeing these on today’s models is wonderful. It means that the investment into this product is really for both a tub and a shower!

3. Reduces Risk Of Falling

Falls are the #1 fear of most elderly and their caregivers. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) the average hospital cost for a fall injury is over $30,000. And the cost is not the most important factor because the truth of the matter is, falls result in over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths. When it comes to caring for an elderly parent, preventing falls should be the #1 priority. The use of a walk-in tub greatly reduces that risk.

4. Improves Independence

Being independent is extremely important to everyone, especially the elderly. As a caregiver, it’s a very difficult task to balance safety with independence so using as many tools as possible to help you achieve both is beneficial. Shower aids, long handled reachers and walk-in tubs are just a few of the products that you can use to not only help your senior parent be safe but to give them as much independence as possible.

5. Benefits Of Hydrotherapy

Most elderly are not able to reap the soothing benefits of soaking in a bathtub simply because they cannot (or are afraid to) get in and out of their tubs. A walk-in tub can give them the benefits of hydrotherapy to help with their arthritis, circulation and all the typical joint pains and muscle aches that many older adults experience.

6. Low Thresholds

The standard height of a walk-in tub threshold ranges from 3” to 7” high. That means that a senior doesn’t have to raise their foot too high to get into one like they do to for a traditional bathtub, which has a 14 inch rim.

7. Built In Grab Bars

In general, walk-in tubs are ADA compliant so they have at least one built in grab bar inside the tub. This makes it safer for a bather who might be in danger of sliding off the seat of the tub. Grab bars allow more independence and reduce the chance of falling while transitioning into or out of the tub. Also, if the bather does slip off the seat, a grab bar can help them keep their head above water.

8. Built In Seats

Walk-in tubs come with seats that are chair height. An elderly person doesn’t have worry about falling when trying to sit all the way down onto the floor of a traditional tub. They also won’t freeze while perching on a stool. Many walk-in tubs have contoured seats with anti-slip texturing. This gives the user more room to move around when bathing and makes it easier for them to get up or down without falling.

7 Cons Of A Walk-In Tub

Here are the 7 downsides about walk-in tubs.

1. Cost

Cost is a big factor for many who are considering a walk-in tub. With a range of $2000 to $9000 for the tub alone and then adding installation costs – well you can see that the entire project could be extremely expensive. Check out some options to help you pay for it.

2. Can Be Chilly

It can take up to 15 minutes for a walk-in tub to fill up – in the meantime you are sitting in there waiting for it to fill up. During this time you may feel cold and since seniors are more prone to hypothermia – this is not a good thing. So I would recommend to purchase a walk-in tub with heated seats and floors and you can also install a ceiling heat lamp over the tub.

These heating elements will also help when you are waiting in the tub as the water drains.

3. Installation Issues

Installation can be a problem if it is not done correctly. I strongly recommend that you use a professional company to install your tub in as efficiently and proficiently as possible.

4. Higher Water Bills

Walk-in tubs tend to be larger than standard bathtubs and as a result require more water. This not only means that your water bill may be higher but you may also need a more powerful water heater as well.

5. High Walls

In a medical emergency (or if you were to get stuck), walk-in tubs have high walls that make it much more difficult to get someone out of the tub. These high walls also mean the tub hold more water, which is a drowning hazard. We realize that people can also drown in a traditional tub, but bathers want to fill walk-in tubs with more water so they can use the jets. If the tub doesn’t have a quick drain safety feature, it could take about 15 minutes to drain one.

6. Leaking Potential (Mostly Through The Doors)

Consumer Reports reviews reveal these tubs can leak around the seals, causing water to puddle on the floor. This is a slip and fall hazard. Other owners have reported issues with the stoppers leaking, so the tub won’t hold water. Additionally, it can be tough to close and latch the doors on some models. An improperly-latched swing-out door could open while the tub is full, causing the bathroom to flood.

7. Scalding Water

Bathers sit in the tub as it fills, so a mobility-impaired senior may get scalded if the water is too hot and they can’t adjust the temperature fast enough. If you are considering a walk-in tub, make sure to look for one with anti-scald technology.

Read about the walk-in tubs that we recommend.

Does A Walk-In Tub Add Value To A House?

A walk-in tub can be a valuable asset when you get ready to sell your home IF the buyer is a senior and/or handicapped person who needs this type of equipment.

Anytime you are making home modifications you should ideally consider the resale value but of course, that only works if the person who is purchasing your home likes and/or needs what you added or modified in your home.

Where Can You Get A Walk-In Tub?

If you’ve decided the the Pros outweigh the Cons then the next step is to research where to purchase one from.  Here are some recommendations:

Amazon

Lowe’s

MedMart

Overstock

The Home Depot

If you purchase your walk-in tub from Lowe’s or The Home Depot you can ask them about installation as well. Otherwise, I would recommend that you contact your plumber for information on who they can recommend to make the installation.

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