Accessibility isn’t much of a concern for most people—until it suddenly is. Often, senior citizens find themselves surprised by their seemingly sudden inability to go about their normal tasks. One area that is often an issue for elderly individuals is the bathtub. Climbing over that high ledge (especially when the inside of the tub is wet and slippery) can be a severe hazard. If you’ve started to notice you’re unable to enter your tub safely and efficiently, here are some options to make it more accessible.
One very simple option is to add a transfer bench to your tub. These benches are typically crafted of metal and plastic and sit partly inside of and outside of your tub. This will allow you to seat yourself on the part of the bench outside your tub, then slide into the tub, lifting your legs over the tub’s edge as you move. Plus, it provides you with a secure seat inside the tub as you shower.
Of course, because the bench is located at the same height as the tub’s side, this isn’t a beneficial option if you want to bathe; once you’re in the tub, you’d need help removing the bench so that you could sit in the bottom of the tub for your bath. However, if you have a shower-tub combo, you can use the bench for sitting while you shower, then slide yourself quickly back out of the tub.
Walk-In Upgrade Kit
Your second option is to upgrade your existing tub to a walk-in tub with a conversion kit. These simple kits allow you to add a door to the wall of your tub, providing a lower, safer entry step to get in and out of your tub. They’re designed to be a DIY kit, so if you’re doing the conversion yourself, you must follow the instructions exactly; if you don’t, your tub’s new door is very likely to leak.
While a cheaper option for obtaining a walk-in tub, conversion kits are much less reliable in remaining waterproof. Additionally, they don’t improve the safety of your tub any more than just lowering the step. You’ll still need to lower yourself into a very low seated position and rise from it as well. Often, that low seat can be just as much of an issue for seniors as climbing over the tub’s wall.
If accessibility is a genuine concern for you, your best bet is to replace your standard tub with a walk-in tub. Besides having the low entry step that conversion kits provide, walk-in bathtubs come with a slew of other safety and accessibility features to make your tub more accessible. Safety bars, grab handles, accessible controls, and a high, upright seat allow you to bathe independently again without concerns for your safety. For those with reduced mobility, a walk-in bathtub is the safest, most accessible choice.