One of the challenges of providing in-home care for an ill or elderly loved one is finding the best sort of bathtub for them. The patient might have mobility issues that make getting out of a traditional bathtub difficult. One option is a walk-in bathtub.
A walk-in bathtub is a good choice for patients who aren’t steady on their feet. They have doors and a low threshold that will allow a patient to enter fairly easily, either by him or herself or with help from the caregiver. When the patient is inside the tub, the door has seals that keep the water in the tub from leaking out.
Like conventional bathtubs, walk-ins come in a variety of sizes and shapes. The higher end models can come with hydrotherapy jets, handrails, hand-held showerheads and built-in seating. At the very least, a walk-in tub should have pads on the floor to prevent slips and falls. Walk-in bathtubs need to be professionally installed, though some walk-in tubs are portable.
Though the advantages of a walk-in bathtub seem evident, there are a few drawbacks. One is that the bather has to enter the tub, close the door and wait for the tub to fill up. Then he or she has to wait till the tub drains nearly completely before he or she can come out. It might also be hard to adjust the temperature to the bather’s comfort. High end walk-in tubs can be fitted with temperature controls, faucets that can fill the tub up quickly and drains that can quickly take the water away, but these are extras that cost money.
Additional Considerations For Walk-in Bathtubs
Walk-in tubs are also necessarily deep and this might necessitate a remodeling of the bathroom. Even if the bathroom doesn’t need to be remodeled, the hot water tank might need to be replaced for a more powerful model. This will no doubt add to energy bills. The good news about this is that when it comes time to sell the house, a walk-in bathtub can add value to the home if it’s in a naturally occurring retirement community.
Another good thing is that though Medicare doesn’t cover walk-in tubs, a person who needs one might be able to get a low interest loan to buy one from an organization like the AARP.
Modifying A Traditional Bathtub
If a homeowner doesn’t have the budget to install a walk-in bathtub, a conventional bathtub can still be made safer for an elderly or infirm patient. As with a walk-in tub, textured surfaces can be put on the bottom of the tub and handrails can be easily installed. Most conventional tubs can be installed by a DIYer with some help.
A bathtub is best for a patient if it’s fairly shallow and easy to get into. This would rule out deep tubs that are made for soaking like old-fashioned, freestanding, claw-footed tubs. One good tub for a patient is an alcove tub, which is a tub that’s enclosed on three sides and has a built in shower. This is one of the most popular types of tubs. They tend to be more shallow than freestanding tubs. Handrails installed on the three walls make them even easier to get into and out of. A standard model of this type of tub is about 30 inches wide by 60 inches long.
Consult A Pluber
Before any bathtub is installed, the homeowner should have a plumber come to the home and inspect the space. The plumber should let the homeowner know if the existing plumbing can handle the load of a new conventional tub or a walk-in tub and whether the floor is strong enough to support it.
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