Many things change as we age, but the desire for freedom and privacy isn’t one of them. If you feel unsteady when using a conventional bathtub, a walk-in model may be the safe and convenient way to adjust to your lifestyle without resorting to in-home care. The question then becomes, which walk-in tub model is right for you? There are many options, and it’s best to consider your short-term and long-term needs when buying a tub to make sure you’re spending your money in a smart way.
For an easier home improvement solution, consider a model which uses your existing fixtures, such as faucets and drains. Such a walk-in tub replaces your current bathtub, and provides the easy access of a swing-in door. These models are a good choice if you still want a lay-down bath, but have accessibility issues with your current tub.
If your condition does not permit the use of a lay-down bath, a standing walk-in tub may be a more suitable option. Such tubs are equipped with grab bars and non-slip flooring and seating to ensure that you can keep your balance. Many of these models also offer pivoting seats for easy transfer from a wheelchair to the tub. For maximum convenience, there are also bath lifts available from the same retailers who manufacture walk-in tubs. A mechanized bath lift can safely lower you in or out of the water, which is a tremendous help for someone suffering from bad knees or severe arthritis.
Bath space can be a concern for some shoppers, especially in older houses with converted half-baths, which is often the only choice for a disabled or elderly person to use on the ground floor of a home. Some companies produce walk-in tub models of roughly 3-foot cubic dimensions. These mini walk-ins offer many of the same luxury options as their other tubs, including hydrotherapy and whirlpool accessories.
As with any product that is a long-term investment for your home and your lifestyle, don’t be afraid to shop for the best price or rely on independent reviewers, such as Consumer Reports. Consult your financial advisor before agreeing to any sort of financing arrangement to make sure you’re getting an equitable deal. Also, know what sort of warranty your new tub carries, and what that warranty covers. Door seals, pumps, and motors are all things that the product warranty should cover. Check to make sure that the tub’s dimensions, such as step height and seat width, are compliant with CSA/UL standards. And of course, check your water heater and set the temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Water scalds human skin at 130 degrees; this simple choice will save you money on energy costs and keep you from getting burned.
Adjusting to a lifestyle of limited mobility can be hard enough without the hassle of overspending (or underspending) on the things you need to make the transition. A little forethought and research will empower you to make the best decision when you shop for a walk-in tub – and being able to enjoy your independence in the bath will empower you to live a healthier, happier life.