Finding a Tub for Your Declining Mobility

Most senior citizens will experience a noticeable loss of mobility as they age. While some may only find themselves unable to engage in athletic activities anymore, others may struggle with the more physically demanding chores around the house. And still, others will experience reduced mobility that impacts their ability to perform simple daily tasks, like dressing and bathing.

If your mobility has been declining and you’re worried about your ability to bathe independently, it may be a good idea to invest in a walk-in bathtub. But how can you ensure your new tub will meet your mobility needs in the long term? Keep reading to learn what things you need to consider.

Your Long-Term Mobility Prospects

Nobody can predict the future or be entirely certain of just how much their mobility will decline over time. However, if your mobility is declining, it’s a good idea to discuss your long-term mobility prospects with your doctor. For example, if you have a degenerative condition that will likely require you to be in a wheelchair in a few years, this is something you need to keep in mind when selecting a bathtub. Your doctor may also be able to provide you with exercises and suggestions to help you maintain or even improve your mobility and reduce the likelihood of relying on a mobility aid in the future.

Your Bathtub Options

Once you have a clearer understanding of what the future might bring in terms of your mobility, you’re ready to start shopping for a tub. Provided that your doctor expects you to be able to maintain some level of mobility throughout your life, a walk-in tub is an excellent option. These tubs allow you to open a door and step into the tub over a low entry step, rather than climbing over a high wall.

This type of tub is excellent for those who have basic independent mobility but don’t have the strength or balance required to climb in and out of a slippery tub without the risk of injury. It can also be used by individuals who rely on a cane or walker to move around; simply walk up to the edge of the tub with your mobility aid, open the door, and step in sideways, leaving your mobility aid outside the tub.

However, if your condition makes it likely that you’ll require a wheelchair in the future, you may be better off shopping for what’s known as a “slide-in” tub. These tubs are very similar to a walk-in tub, but with two key differences: The door opens over the tub’s seat, allowing the user to slide from their wheelchair directly into the tub. The door also swings outwards, so it doesn’t impede the sliding motion when entering and exiting the tub.

Improving Safety and Accessibility

If you have diminished mobility, a low-entry step is not the only thing you should be looking for in an accessible bathtub. You should also ensure any tub you purchase has other safety and accessibility features that make the tub more usable for you, even as your mobility declines. These features might include the following:

  • Grab bars and safety handles
  • Easy-to-reach faucet and controls
  • Remote control for any lights, jets, or added feature
  • Attached towel bar for easy access to your towel
  • Handheld sprayer to make washing your hair easier
  • Anti-slip surface on both the seat and the footwell

Each of these features will help you to stay safe while bathing, even if your mobility continues to decline over the coming years.

Making Your Tub More Enjoyable

Don’t forget to think about the features that will make your tub more enjoyable to use. While functionality and accessibility are of the utmost importance, this is a tub that you’ll be using for years, and it should be one that you actually enjoy using. Here are some features that you might want to consider looking for in a walk-in tub:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Chromotherapy lights
  • Air and/or hydro jets
  • Heated seat
  • Fast fill and drain

Each of these features has its own benefits, but they all help to make your walk-in bathtub something that’s enjoyable to use, as well as being safe for you to use alone. With these features, you can actually enjoy your daily baths again.

Accessibility Upgrades around Your Tub

Finally, be sure to consider how you can improve the accessibility around your new bathtub. A walk-in tub doesn’t do much to help you bathe independently if the area surrounding it isn’t accessible. Here are some upgrades to consider making around your walk-in tub so that you can bathe independently in total confidence:

  • Additional safety bars on the walls beside the tub
  • Non-slip mat outside the tub door
  • Nearby table or tray to keep your phone, book, or other items you use in the bath easily accessible
  • Scrubbing wand to allow easier washing of back, feet, and other hard-to-reach body parts

With a walk-in bathtub, you can continue to bathe independently for years to come, even as your mobility continues to decline.