Getting into a traditional bathtub gets harder for everyone as they get older. Depending on the bathtub type, it can be nearly impossible to get in and out of a tub without an assistive device like a bath lift or help from a family member or care provider.
Claw foot tubs, for example, can be 24” or higher – a big step for anyone.
However, this doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying a shower or bath. A handicap bathtub will look sleek, stylish and will be far easier to enter than a traditional tub. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t look as stylish as a claw foot option, but what other bathtubs look that good?
Walk in bathtubs are becoming very popular, and as society continues to age, they will continue to grow in popularity.
What is a Walk In Bathtub?
Think of how easy it would be if you had a bathtub with a door. You would be able to open the door, walk into the bathtub, and close the door behind you. Water will fill up in the bathtub, allowing you to take a bath whiling sitting down (most models have built-in seats).
Your feet will be submerged in the water, you’ll be independent, and there are no difficult steps getting into the tub.
For a person that used to enjoy baths but has since been unable to enjoy taking one, this is a great option. You’ll only have to go up a small step, usually 4” – 6”, to get into the tub. There are also models that come equipped with stability bars that can be used to maintain balance when stepping into your tub.
These bars can also assist you when standing up out of the tub and can help you get to or from your walking aid.
Can you soak your entire body in these tubs? Yes.
The contoured seats will allow you to maintain a sitting position off of the tub’s floor, and you can also extend your legs straight. This allows you to fill the tub to your shoulders or higher while still sitting down. When you go to stand up, you’ll be on a higher surface, allowing for less exertion and an easier time standing.
If you miss being able to enjoy a real bath, this is a permanent option for you.
How is a Handicap Bathtub is Installed?
Installation is permanent, so you’ll need to have a professional install the tub for you. This will be the safest option, and the tub will become a permanent fixture of your home just like any other tub would become.
You will not be able to install one of these tubs without a professional unless you’re a plumber or general contractor with experience.
Due to the weight of the tub, often 200 pounds or more, you’ll need to have help with installation. For the best results, it’s best to hire a professional to take care of the installation process for you.
Does a Walk in Bathtub Leak?
Many homeowners fear that the bathtub door will leak, and there have been cases where leaks have occurred. The most common issue is that the seal of the door starts to wear down and will start to leak.
The good news is that almost all walk in bathtubs will have a warranty on the seal of the door.
This warranty can be anywhere from 3 – 5 years or longer, so if the seal happens to leak, it’s a quick repair and will not require a new tub to be installed.
Pros and Cons of a Handicap Bathtub
When trying to decide if this type of tub is an option for you, there are a few pros and cons that need to be considered. For the most part, the pros will greatly outweigh the cons.
- Independence: Entering and exiting the bathtub won’t require any assistance. This allows for a sense of independence that is not felt with a traditional bathtub.
- Anti-Slip: Designed for the disabled and elderly, these bathtubs are made with an anti-slip floor so that a person doesn’t slip when standing or sitting. This adds to the overall safety of the tub.
- Safety: The anti-slip design is just part of the safety of these tubs. Rails or bars can also be included, which allow a user to maintain better overall balance and stability to make their bath safe.
- Expensive: This isn’t a cheap investment (more on that soon). You can expect to spend several thousands of dollars for the tub itself and the installation.
- Waiting: You can’t fill the tub prior to entering it, so you’ll need to enter and wait while the tub fills. The same goes when exiting the tub; you’ll need to wait until the tub completely drains before exiting. All of this is a minor inconvenience, but it is a concern nonetheless.
When going to buy your tub, keep all of this in mind. Most people who enjoy taking a bath and can no longer do so will find walk in tubs to be a perfect fit. If you’re the type of person that would rather stand in the shower and has no desire to take a bath, a walk-in tub may not be the best option.
Accessories and Additional Options
There are basic tubs, and others with a few handy additions. All of the additions will obviously add to the price of the tub, but they may be worth it to you.
- Adjustable Bubble Jets: Bubble jets are great because they’ll help massage the body and can be a nice addition for anyone suffering from swollen feet or arthritis.
- Adjustable Showerhead: There are adjustable or handheld showerheads, which can come in handy. This is a great addition when trying to rinse out your hair or rinse off your back.
- Rails or Bars: Getting in, up and out of a tub can be difficult. The door will not be able to hold your weight – it’s not meant to, at least. The bars or rails will be able to help you quickly stand out of the shower, and do so safely.
- Inside Tub Seating: The inside seating can be relatively high off of the ground, or it can be closer to the ground. If you have difficulty standing off of the floor, a tub seat that’s built-in will be a great option.
You may also find other options that include fast-draining plugs, for example.
Walk in Bathtub Prices: How Much Will You Spend?
The price you can expect to spend on these tubs varies greatly, and you’ll also need to consider the installation costs, too.
The tub itself can cost between $1,200 and $15,000. The good news is that there are countless options in the $3,000 – $5,000 range that will also be great quality. In general, a person will spend $2,500 at the low-end and $10,000 at the high-end for a feature-filled model.
The cost of labor can be anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 or more, depending on how much work needs to be done.
If, for example, you have a tub of similar dimensions that will be able to hook right up to the plumbing without any further modifications needed, you’ll likely spend $1,000 – $1,500, depending on if you have the contractor dispose of the old tub, too.
But this is a small price to pay for the freedom of your own walk in bathtub.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.