This issue of bathing is not only a matter of inconvenience, but also of a significant risk to physical safety. Slips and falls are the leading cause of lethal injury among older adults, with one senior dying every 19 minutes due to a fatal one. Statistics show that one in four senior Americans falls each year. Most importantly, most of these accidents occur within the confines of the bathroom. This makes the bathroom and bathing a high-risk area, therefore it’s important to significantly reduce the potential of falls with the right modifications. One such very effective modification is the installation and use of a walk-in tub.
Walk-in bathtubs somewhat resemble a small jacuzzi or whirlpool tub. They are built with a wide door in the tub wall, that provides a flat point of entry and exit from the bathtub. Once these doors are closed and secured, they are watertight and thus providing a functional bathtub. Some of these tubs even allow a person to go into the tub to bathe, while remaining in a wheelchair. Others come with built-in water jets, which can provide hydrotherapy. But the main feature here is the door allowing for safe and easy use of the tub, eliminating the need to step over a tub wall and also all but eliminating tripping and falling.
As mentioned above, a major safety feature is providing a flat and wide point of entry and exit for the tub. There are also other important safety features in virtually all walk-in tubs, including:
– Built-in seat: It is not practical or safe for many seniors to either stand for a length of time, or to lay down in a tub. By using the built-in seat, a senior can comfortable and safely sit while bathing. These seats are also usually contoured and slip-proof to provide extra safety. This feature also virtually eliminates the risk of drowning in the tub.
– Handrails and Grab Bars: These provide stability while getting in, using, or getting out of the tub and thus help eliminate the risk of falling. In addition to the physical safety factor, they help provide peace of mind, making bathing more pleasant.
– Slip Resistant Floor: Even with a flat entry and the handrails, a slippery bathtub floor poses a major risk for a deadly slip and fall. To greatly reduce this risk, walk-in tubs are built with special slip resistant material, especially on the flooring.
– Psychological: Studies have shown that a majority of seniors greatly fear losing their independence. This is why so many seniors are opting to age in place. Walk-in bathtubs and the safety features they provide, drastically minimize the need for assistance during bathing time, letting seniors retain their independence. This difference can mean the world for those who value their private time. A walk-in tub adds a layer of freedom to their daily lives.
– Physically Therapeutic: Many mid-to-high range walk-in tubs offer special features like hydrotherapy jets and built-in water heaters to aid seniors with their ailments. The benefits of soaking in warm water for seniors are endless. Warm water baths are known to reduce aches and pains that frequently affect seniors. In addition, warm – hot water bathing can significantly improve cardiovascular health.
Although buying and installing a walk-in bathtub can be expensive, the cost can turn into an investment. If you choose a walk-in tub with jacuzzi features, having this in your home can increase its resale value, even if the buyers aren’t seniors. The other way it can actually save you money is that with a walk-in tub, you may be able to avoid hiring a care-giver to assist with bathing needs.