Bathing is an essential part of anyone’s day, but as we get older this is the sort of thing that gets challenging. Showering and bathing can be downright dangerous for some seniors, depending on the health issues they face. Luckily, there are products, including the walk-in shower chair or shower bench, bathroom grab bars, the bath lift, the shower mat, and, of course, numerous styles of bathtub that make bathing safer and easier for elderly adults.
Bathtubs that are safer for seniors reduce the number of the risks associated with showering and bathing. They don’t require you to stand directly under a stream of water, so vision isn’t impeded while moving in a small space. They allow for independence, so seniors aren’t forced to rely on other people to take care of personal hygiene. They also allow for relaxation and comfort. Nobody should feel rushed, cramped or unsafe when they are in the tub and the best bathtubs for seniors are spacious and provide a great place to wash up and relax.
There are several different types and styles of safe tubs for seniors so choosing the one that is right for your home can be a bit of a challenge. Comparing features, determining what’s needed and what’s not, and creating the right budget for this upgrade overwhelms many people and they put off investing in a solid safety upgrade for their home. The good news is there is plenty of information available to help you make this choice.
One of the best upgrades you can make in the bathroom for yourself or a senior loved one is to install a walk-in tub. These tubs have doors that allow for easy access, even if you have mobility problems or joint pain. Instead of stepping up over the side of a tub, you simply open the door and walk right in.
The water in these walk-in tubs fills to about two and a half to three feet high, which is far more than the standard one foot of water provided by most tubs. This means seniors can sit higher and comfortable bathing in enough water without concern for getting up and down and in and out of a standard tub.
What Should You Consider When Upgrading to the Best Bathtub for Elderly Adults?
Walk-in tubs are one of the most popular options for seniors, but they aren’t the only one and they aren’t right for everyone. There are plenty of non-walk-in styles that also improve safety and make bathing a pleasant experience for seniors. What are some of the most important features to look for in any style tub for elderly adults?
Your primary goal when choosing a bathtub for a senior should be to improve safety and one of the best ways to improve safety is to prevent fall. Falls are one of the primary reasons seniors end up in the emergency room and face long-term health problems. The more you can do around the house to reduce the risk for falls the better and the bathroom is one of the main places where falls occur, especially when seniors are getting in and out of the tub or showering.
How can you reduce falls in the shower and tub?
Look for tubs that feature handrails or make sure you can add handrails on the shower walls. Handrails can be located in several places to make moving and getting into and out of the tub easier. Also, consider adding no-slip grips to the bars to ensure they don’t get slippery when wet.
Tubs also need to feature texture on the floor to prevent slipping. Mats can be used, but they must be placed carefully and securely because the mat itself can slip. You’re better off investing in a tub that has a built-in textured finish or adding grip strips that are affixed to the bottom of the tub and aren’t at risk for moving around as a mat would be.
The size of the tub is also important because you need to make sure the space is large enough that seniors aren’t at risk for bumping into the sides. It’s more likely someone will hurt themselves in a cramped space than if they have plenty of room to move, but you also want to make sure the safety bars are within easy reach from all areas of the tub. This means some oversized tubs might be too large to be safe.
Finally, look for a tub that offers quick drainage. Ideally, a senior will wait until the tub has drained before getting out because the water draining can create a risky situation. However, you don’t want a loved one sitting in tepid water waiting a long time for drainage. Fast draining tubs ensure safety and comfort at the end of a bath.
Other Features of the Best Bathtubs for Elderly Adults
In addition to the safety features, there are a few additional things you’ll want to consider when shopping for a new tub. These features make the tub better to own in general and won’t burden your loved one with additional work cleaning the tub or make bathing unpleasant.
Look for a tub that offers easy cleaning. Some tubs have features, including jet water propulsion that might make them tough to clean. A few tubs even come with self-cleaning options that make it easier than ever to clean the tub. At the very least, make sure the tub doesn’t require a great deal of bending and stretching to get it clean.
Seating in a tub can also be important. Most seniors aren’t able to crouch down into or lift themselves out of a traditional tub, but there are plenty of options that offer seating. The most basic models simply offer a regular-sized ledge for seating as you would in a chair. However, there are also options for lounging in the tub, which many seniors prefer, especially if they enjoy soaking to ease their aching muscles and joints.
Finally, and speaking of soaking, consider investing in a tub that offers a heating element. This ensures the water stays warm for more than 10 to 15 minutes, so you or your loved one can enjoy a long, leisurely bath without getting cold. This can also be viewed as a safety feature because it reduces the risk of bath time being chilly and putting a senior at risk for getting sick.
Other Considerations for Best Bathtubs for Elderly Adults
In addition to the safety issues and ensuring a tub creates as pleasant a bathing experience as possible, you’ll want to consider a few practical issues before investing in a new tub.
Make sure you know the dimensions of your bathroom and the footprint of your existing tub when shopping. Unless you’re planning to completely renovate your bathroom, you’ll need to work within the existing space. Most walk-in tubs are about 60 inches long, which is no longer than a standard bathtub. However, they tend to be wider, though this isn’t always the case, and they are always higher. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of room for your new tub and that it doesn’t make the rest of the bathroom too cramped—reducing the safety of the space even if showering and bathing are safer.
You’ll also want to make sure you know the hot water capacity in your home. Not every single hot water heater is capable of supporting a walk-in tub, which often requires more than 50 gallons of water to fill. It’s possible to pair a walk-in tub with a smaller hot water heater, but you’ll need to wait for the water to reheat unless you’re willing to upgrade to a larger hot water heater. You also have the option of purchasing a separate hot water heater that’s strictly set up for the walk-in tub and ensures you’ll always have enough hot water to fill the tub, regardless of its size.
Choosing the Right Type of Bathtub for an Elderly Adult
Most people think of walk-in tubs when shopping for a safer alternative for seniors, but walk-ins are not the only option. Other tubs you might want to consider when shopping for the best bathtub for an elderly adult include:
· Soaker tubs: these are basic walk-in tubs that don’t offer any special features, other than being able to fill to about the three-foot mark and sit comfortably and safety while bathing.
- Wheelchair tubs: these tubs provide access for those who are confined to a wheelchair and feature a door that opens wide enough for a chair, which makes it easy to transfer from the chair into the tub’s seat. Heavy-duty versions of wheelchair accessible tubs are called bariatric tubs and are able to accommodate people weighing more than 300 pounds.
- Massage and extra features: these tubs offer features focused on safety and comfort and include things like aerotherapy jets, hydrotherapy jets, chromatherapy, and aromatherapy. These features make bathing a pleasant experience and allow seniors to combat common health problems while in the tub.
One final consideration before investing in a tub? Think about the style, design, and color. These issues might seem as if they pale in comparison to all of the other features, but you want to make sure you and your loved one like the look of the tub and that the installation doesn’t reduce your home’s value. Obviously, safety and comfort are more important than these issues, but the perfect tub will combine all of these things and truly be the best bathtub for your beloved senior.
Our Picks for Best Bathtubs for Elderly Adults 2018
This tub is from one of the best-known tub and bathroom designers in the country. It is an acrylic tub and is reinforced with fiberglass to ensure it is strong and durable. There are two built-in armrests so your senior loved one will be comfortable while soaking in the tub. It’s a larger tub with dimensions of 60X32X21.5 inches and has a 60-gallon water capacity. The tub comes with a lifetime warranty and offers a spa-like experience and a basin deep enough to fully emerge the body.
This is not a walk-in tub, so you need to consider the challenges of your senior loved one getting into and out of a standard tub.
This tub retails for around $500, depending on the drain side you need.
This walk-in tub features an ultra-low easy entry design. It’s designed with handrails and a seat for comfortable, safe bathing. The extra-wide door is at least 20 percent wider than other walk-in models, making it easy to get in and out even if you need to transfer into and out of a wheelchair.
This tub features a cushioned neck rest, removable panels, and a quick draining system.
The Kohler Villager Bathtub is another standard tub that is designed with elderly users in mind. It’s constructed from cast iron so it’s as durable as you’re going to get in a bathtub. It does not accommodate full-body immersion and measures in at 60×30.25×14 inches, but it’s great for those who prefer a more shallow bathing experience.
It features an anti-slip bottom to prevent falls and will fit into most bathrooms. The tub features an alcove design that homeowners tend to love. It’s also ADA compliant, which means it’s specially designed to accommodate seniors and anyone else with physical disabilities. Keep in mind though, since this is a smaller tub, it might not be suitable for taller or larger seniors. The tub also comes with a lifetime warranty, so you never need to worry about anything going wrong with the tub.
This tub retails for about $550 depending on the side of the drain.
This tub is a great option for seniors looking for a standard soaking tub. It’s ADA compliant and features an integral apron design so it’s ready for use the moment it arrives in your home. The tub features a beveled headrest, so it’s comfortable for soaking and relaxing, but has an elevated seating position so it’s easy for seniors to get into and out of the tub.
This is a great tub, but it’s not ideal for taller users, so be aware of the size before choosing this tub for your senior loved one.
This tub retails for about $550.