Walk-in Tubs for the Elderly and People with Special Needs

If you're planning bathroom renovations for an elderly family member or for someone with special needs, there are a number of things to consider such as wider entry doors, hand rails and maybe a walk in tub.

Walk in bath tubs are a welcome feature for people with special needs. They are usually a higher tub with a door that opens inward and a seat, so that once seated with the door closed, the tub fills and the water pressure seals the door shut.

Conventional bath tubs can be precarious and potentially dangerous for anybody, no less someone with a disability. Tubs are smooth and slippery when wet and are one of the largest contributors to household accidents. Walk in tubs enable a person to access the bathtub without stepping over a high side and possibly losing falling over in the process.

There are dozens of different models of walk in tubs for just about any need. Some have whirlpool jets, some have hydrotherapy air jets, some have high seats, and some are for reclining as in a conventional tub. Some are made to replace a standard tub and will align with existing plumbing. And some are for new installation with different plumbing requirements than a standard tub.

If you're replacing an existing standard bathtub, here are some basic considerations to keep in mind:

  • Look for a walk in tub that fits in the space of a standard tub. This will focus your shopping on tubs that you can actually use.
  • Decide whether you want a tub with a high seat or a conventional style tub for reclining.
  • Turn off the water in your house and remove the old tub. Once removed, inspect the layout of the plumbing fixtures and drain and compare against what you'll need for the new walk in tub.
  • If you have a tile tub surround, you may need to remove some of the tile to accommodate a taller tub.

If you're installing the new tub yourself, you'll need to consider the configuration of the new tub compared to the tub you're replacing. If you're hiring a contractor to do the work for you, keep in mind these issues will affect your costs.

The most important consideration of all is that walk in tubs give someone with special needs the dignity of independence in the bathroom, and that is worth far more than the cost of the renovation.

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