Even if you’re steady on your feet, slipping in the tub or shower is a dangerous possibility. And if you struggle with mobility or balance, the combination of water, slick porcelain and stepping over the threshold may just pose too high of a risk.
Accessories like non-slip shower mats and grab bars can improve the situation, but for some, a walk-in bathtub may be the ideal solution. These are fairly common in medical and elder care facilities, but they can also be installed in most bathrooms to make bathing safe and easy in spite of injuries, disabilities and advanced age.
As the name implies, walk-in bathtubs allow you to walk straight into the tub without stepping over the edge one leg at a time. This is accommodated by a watertight door that opens inward into the tub. A seat built into the tub allows the user to sit comfortably while they bath and relax.
Because they’re larger and more complex than your standard tub, walk-in tubs can be pricey. They tend to start around $2,000, but the more luxurious models can top $10,000. Some of the common features that separate low-end and high-end models include bubbling jets, shower wands, sophisticated temperature controls and high-speed drains.
The high price isn’t the only reason why walk-in tubs are high-involvement purchases. Because they’re designed to serve those who need assistance in the bathroom, it’s important to choose a tub that meets the specific needs of the person who will use it.
Some models have very narrow entrances, which can be difficult for some users to navigate. Others have a small ridge at the bottom that must be stepped over — this is much easier than stepping into an ordinary tub, but it may still be a challenge for those who lack a full range of motion. It’s important that whoever uses it the most be the one to try out different versions of the walk-in. Can they get in it? Can they sit down and still reach all the necessary controls?
Above all, a walk-in bathtub should make life easier by using it. Having the fun add-ons is nice, but if it doesn’t make your life easier, don’t do it. Or start out by talking to a plumbing professional first.