Walk-in bathtubs are often thought to be a safe, comfortable, and accessible solution for seniors who have difficulty bathing – and, for some, they may be. However, walk-in tubs aren’t right for every senior. They are a big investment, and it’s important to be fully informed before making such a big commitment.
A major safety concern that is often overlooked is specific to tubs with inward-opening doors. Doors that open inward are sometimes preferred because outward-opening doors are more prone to leaking, due to the weight of the water pushing against the seal. Although inward opening doors are better in this capacity, they present unique safety hazards – namely that the door cannot be opened when the tub is filled, even in an emergency. If a senior has a heart attack, stroke, fall, or another medical emergency in the tub, responders must pull them over the top of the tall tub wall, which is difficult and dangerous. If the drain or door malfunctions, likewise, the senior can end up stuck inside, with little recourse other than trying to climb over the wall – obviously an extremely dangerous endeavor.
Seniors often imagine relaxing sore necks and shoulders in a warm jacuzzi jet stream without realizing that, walk-in tubs usually submerge only the lower half of a senior’s body. Furthermore, the tub can’t start filling until the senior is already sitting inside it. Depending on the water pressure in the home, the tub may take 10 minutes or so to fill. During this time, the senior is sitting in the tub, without clothing and often chilly, waiting for the water to rise. Draining the tub can also take time, which may vary with the home’s plumbing. The senior may be left wet and shivering as they wait for the water to drain completely before they get out.
Seniors must be able to walk independently to enter the tub, stepping up and onto the hard, possibly slippery surface. The tub’s doorway is often narrow, which can be harder for larger-framed seniors to navigate through.
When a senior requires assistance with bathing from a caregiver, trying to reach into the cramped space to assist can be awkward and difficult. Leaning over the tall walls can also put the caregiver at risk for strains or other ergonomic injuries.
Know What to Look For in a Walk-in Tub
Walk-in tubs may be a great solution for many seniors. Just be aware of the potential pitfalls, and take care to avoid them. Look for a model with good handholds, outward opening doors, and fast filling and draining features. Ensure your plumbing and water heater can handle the demand. Be sure to look at all installation costs as well as the product price. Lastly, be aware that the tub may not always be accessible, depending on how your health and mobility changes as you age.
Some seniors find that curbless showers, or tub transfer benches, ultimately offer solutions that better fit their needs over the long term.
Senior Care Bathing Assistance
Many seniors find that senior care services are a big help when it comes to a safe and comfortable bathing experience. Having a trusted senior care aide come in and help set up the shower or bath, and assist – either a little or a lot – through the process, brings priceless peace of mind and safety to what can be a difficult, exhausting and dangerous task for many seniors.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Elderly Care in Surprise, AZ, please contact the caring staff at Blessings for Seniors Companion Care at (623) 594-0819
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