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When you have mobility issues, bathing can be difficult not to mention dangerous if you don’t have the proper tools. However, there are a number of bathing aids out there that can improve your experience and reduce any associated risks.
The primary function of a bathtub lift is to raise and lower the user in and out of the bath. For people who are unable to step into the tub unaided, this is a safe and easy way of completing the task.
Types of Bathtub Lifts
Bath lifts are mechanical devices that are generally powered in one of two ways. There are hydraulic bath lifts, but for the most part, modern bathtub lifts run on battery power. There are also manual bath lifts that the user must hand crank although these do require more effort to use.
Let’s take a closer look at the ins and out of the most common types.
Hydraulic Bathtub Lift
Hydraulic bath lifts were once incredibly common, but many have been replaced by battery power. That said, there are still some out there, and they work by connecting the lift to the property’s water pressure via a hose. This pressure then raises and lowers the lift.
One of the great things about this type of bath lift is that you won’t need to worry about running out of power and having to recharge your battery. But if the water pressure isn’t strong enough, a hydraulic lift probably won’t work.
Battery-Powered Bathtub Lift
As the name suggests, these bathtub lifts are powered by batteries. They feature a seat for you to sit on and a power button to operate the lift making them very easy to use.
You will need to remember to keep the battery sufficiently charged but depending on the model, you’ll typically get between 4 and 20 lifts per charge.
How Much Does a Bathtub Lift Cost?
How much you pay for a bathtub lift will largely depend on the type you go for. For a typical battery-powered bath lift, you can expect to pay no less than $400. That said, there are some advanced models that cost thousands of dollars so there’s really something to suit every budget.
However, if you were to choose a manual bath lift, then this would generally be a lot cheaper, and these usually start at around $200.
Benefits of a Bathtub Lift
In adults over the age of 85, falls are incredibly common in the bathroom. But if you still want to bathe independently, then a bath tub lift will benefit you as you’ll be able to do this much more safely. However, if you do require a caregiver, using a lift will reduce strain on them so it benefits all parties.
There are a lot of comfort options on most bathtub lifts, including things like swivel seats, reclining backrests, and many others.
Compared to something like a walk-in tub, a bath lift allows you to get into the tub after the water has been added. You can then get back out again without having to wait for the water to drain. Additionally, these lifts are often a much more affordable option.
Drawbacks of a Bathtub Lift
While there are a lot of plus points to bath lifts, they may not be suitable for everyone. If you do not have good strength and balance to hold yourself up while using the lift then this could be dangerous. Moreover, you will need to be able to move on and off the seat, which isn’t possible for all potential users.
Some models have quite a low seat which isn’t ideal for taller users, so this is something worth looking at before you buy.
Finally, and this is a minor disadvantage but a disadvantage nonetheless; some bathtub lifts feature clips to attach them which can get in the way if you have a shower curtain. Chances are that you won’t be able to tuck the curtain into the tub, which can result in water getting onto the floor.
One of the most popular types of bathing aid is the bath or shower seat. These are usually made from plastic and can be placed in the bath or shower, allowing the user to bathe without having to stand up.
These chairs are water resistant, so there’s no worry about them degrading over time. Plus, each model will come with different features such as a backrest, suction cups, adjustable height, and many other things.
Types of Bathtub/Shower Seats
As with most types of bathing aids, bath and shower seats come in a range of different styles. This allows you to find something that closely meets your needs.
A shower stool is a backless seat that is designed for those who have good strength and balance but find it difficult to stand for lengthy periods of time. The seat can be placed in the tub or the shower and has four legs. Usually, these are made from plastic so they’re lightweight enough to move around.
The downside of these types of seats is that they don’t offer any support when getting in and out of the shower. Those with backrests give the user something to hold onto, but that isn’t the case with a shower stool.
Wall-Mounted Bathtub/Shower Seat
You can attach a wall-mounted shower seat to the wall, which is great if you want a more permanent fixture. The great thing about these seats is that, while they are permanent, many of them will fold up against the wall when not in use, so they’re not in the way for other bathroom users.
Some wall-mounted seats come with a back rest, while others feature a stool design. There are also options in terms of padding if you need something a little more comfortable.
Bathtub/Shower Seat with Back
If you find it difficult to sit without support then a shower seat with a backrest is a good option. It will also give you something to hold onto when getting in and out of the bath or shower.
What’s more, these seats may or may not be height adjustable, so you have more control of your level of comfort.
Folding Bathtub/Shower Seat
Folding bath seats are very much the same as a standard seat only they can fold up which makes them more compact for storage and travel.
There are folding seats with and without backs, and some of them may have a height adjustment option, but this will vary by model.
A bath board is a simple yet effective type of bath seat that is placed across the top of the bath. The user sits on it and can bathe easily. However, do keep in mind that owing to the lack of a backrest, these seats may not be suitable for users who find it hard to sit unsupported.
Their flat and compact design means that bathtub boards are very easy to store.
How Much Does a Bathtub/Shower Cost?
Bathtub seats are an affordable option. You wouldn’t generally expect to pay more than around $75, and these aids usually start as low as $25.
Benefits of a Bathtub/Shower Seat
One of the most obvious benefits of a shower seat is that these are incredibly affordable pieces of equipment. What’s more, these seats offer improved safety when in the bath or shower thanks to features like backrests and handles, which you can hold onto when bending down to clean yourself.
You can buy a bath or shower seat and use it right away since there is typically no installation required. The only exception is if you are using a wall-mounted seat, but installation is minimal.
These seats are ideal for people who want to remain independent and bathe in privacy. For people who have limited mobility but are still able to shower unaided but need to sit down, a seat like this can greatly improve independence. Moreover, with their portable design, you can use them anywhere you go.
Drawbacks of a Bath/Shower Seat
Do consider that there are some downsides to using a bath or shower seat, although these are very minor. For example, you have to make sure that you choose a model which offers the right level of support. If you cannot sit unsupported then a stool or backless seat won’t serve you well.
Some bath seats have legs that sit outside of the tub. For people that use mobility aids like walkers and wheelchairs, this can serve as an obstruction.
A commode is a type of seat with a hole in the center and a chamber pot underneath. They are used by those with limited mobility for toileting without necessarily having to go to the bathroom.
Shower commodes are exactly the same as this but are designed to be used in the shower. They are dual-use seats that make life easier both for the user and their caregivers.
Types of Shower Commodes
The type of shower commode you choose will depend on your individual needs. There are a few options to choose from, so make sure you fully understand the uses of each before making a decision.
Assistant-Propelled Shower Commode
Assistant-propelled shower commodes feature a seat that sits on a frame and four small wheels. There are handles at the back for the assistant to move the commode around. You’ll typically find that this type of shower commode can be folded, so it is easier to store and transport.
Self-Propelling Shower Commode
For those that want more independence, a self-propelling shower commode is a good option. The features will largely be the same as the assistant propelled version but there are large rear wheels at the back, similar to those you would see on a manual wheelchair. The rims on these wheels allow the user to move themselves around.
Tilt-in-Space Shower Commode
Tilt in space is often a feature seen on wheelchairs to relieve pressure but this is not the main use of a tilt in space shower commode. In this instance, the tilt in space feature allows for safer, easier and more comfortable toileting and bathing.
However, you should keep in mind that additional parts are required for the mechanics of a tilt-in-space chair, which means they tend to be a little bulkier.
How Much Does a Shower Commode Cost?
The range of prices for a shower commode is massive. It is possible to get a basic model for a few hundred dollars. However, there are some that go into the thousands but these tend to be more advanced tilt-in-space models. On average, you can expect to pay between $600 and $900.
Benefits of a Shower Commode
Using a shower commode can make your time in the bathroom vastly safer. Most falls happen in the bathroom, but a shower commode may reduce the risk of this, as well as give you somewhere comfortable to sit when you are washing.
When we have a physical impairment, this can prevent us from being able to use the bathroom without help. However, with something like a shower commode, a degree of independence can be retained. Since most shower commodes are on wheels, the user can freely move around the bathroom without having to worry.
Shower commodes are versatile enough to be used by people with long-term conditions but also those who need temporary support, such as people recovering from surgery or an injury.
Drawbacks of a Shower Commode
Some shower commodes can be quite bulky, especially if you buy a tilt-in-space model. This is worth thinking about if you have a smaller bathroom as you’ll want to make sure that there is enough room to move around. Moreover, it’s essential that you’re able to transport your shower commode for travel but something more cumbersome can make this tricky.
For what they are, shower commodes can be a little pricey. If you’re looking to get the best value for money then this might not be the right option for you.
For people that find stepping into the bath or shower a little more challenging, a transfer bench is a great bathing aid. These are simple devices that are placed over the bathtub. You simply sit on one end and lift your legs over the side. You can then scoot down the bench and get into a suitable position for bathing.
Types of Transfer Benches
All transfer benches are designed to perform in the same way, so they’re all relatively similar. However, there are some minor differences between benches, so let’s take a closer look at these.
Standard Bathtub Transfer Bench
The most basic type of transfer bench is the standard bathtub transfer bench. These normally have adjustable height and a backrest that can be removed so you can change which side it goes on. However, the seat normally isn’t padded, so it might not be the most comfortable option. They usually have an armrest on one side.
Sliding Bathtub Transfer Bench
If you might find it difficult to scoot across the bench to get into the tub, then there are bath transfer benches that don’t require you to do this. Instead, the seat itself moves, meaning you don’t have to exert any effort.
Tub-Mounted Transfer Bench
Most transfer benches have legs that have to sit outside of the tub, but this can be problematic in tight spaces. Instead, a tub-mounted transfer bench attaches to the bathtub using clamps, so it doesn’t eat into already precious floor space.
How Much Does a Transfer Bench Cost?
One of the great things about a transfer bench is that this is a very affordable type of bathing aid. Usually starting at around $100, they won’t break the bank. There are more expensive models which may come in around the $400 mark, but these tend to be more comfortable and have better support.
Benefits of a Transfer Bench
The beauty of a transfer bench is that they offer good back support. For people who find it challenging to sit for long periods without support, this is an essential feature.
What’s more, transfer benches are very easy to use. For people with mild mobility issues that want to retain their independence, these aids can be life-changing. They also don’t require any installation, so you can get set up right away.
A transfer bench is a compact aid that can usually be folded meaning that it’s easy to store between uses.
Drawbacks of a Transfer Bench
When you use a transfer bench, it does make it a lot easier to get into the bathtub. However, the major drawback is that you won’t be fully submerged in the water. If you’re someone that likes to soak in the tub, this won’t be the right aid for you.
A walk-in bathtub is a perfect option for people who cannot step into the bathtub. These specially installed tubs feature a door that opens to allow easy access into and out of the tub. It is worth considering that these walk-in tubs come with a variety of step heights, so you should take the time to choose one that’s going to be easy for you to use.
Types of Walk-in Tubs
When it comes to choosing a walk-in bathtub, you do have a good amount of options. The type you go for will depend on whether you have any additional therapeutic needs, so let’s take a look at your options.
This is the most standard type of walk-in tub which is pretty much the same as your regular bathtub. The only difference is that it features a walk-in door.
An aerotherapy tub has gentle jets that are created by air as opposed to water which you’ll find in some walk-in tubs. The main benefits of this type of tub are therapeutic but unlike water jets, air jets are much kinder if you have sensitive skin.
Hydrotherapy walk-in tubs are similar to aromatherapy tubs but use water jets instead of air jets. These are great if you have aching muscles or joints as the jets of water can provide therapeutic relief.
A rather luxurious version of the walk-in bathtub is the chromatherapy tub which benefits from bubbles, jets, and colored lighting which can be incredibly relaxing whilst bathing.
Wheelchair Accessible Tub
For wheelchair users, a regular walk-in tub would not have a wide enough opening to allow the wheelchair to move through. For this reason, manufacturers produce walk-in tubs with wider openings as well as other wheelchair-friendly features such as handrails.
Bariatric walk-in tubs are larger than usual and are designed to comfortably accommodate larger users who weigh over 300lbs.
How Much Does a Walk-in Tub Cost?
A walk in the bathtub is naturally going to be more expensive than some of the bathing aids we have talked about so far in this guide. However, it should be considered an investment and will drastically improve your independence.
It’s important to remember that even the most basic walk-in bathtubs start at thousands of dollars. You will also need to pay an installation fee which will up the cost. However, many retailers offer finance plans which, as long as you can afford to repay, are an easier way to get a walk in the bathtub.
On average, a basic tub may be anywhere between $2000 and $5000. However, once you start looking at tubs with special features, this could skyrocket up to any beyond five figures.
Benefits of a Walk-in Tub
Most falls for seniors occur in the bathroom, and stepping over the threshold of a regular tub is one of the leading culprits. But a walk in the bathtub eliminates the need to do this and so provides a much safer bathing experience.
Moreover, a walk-in tub is usually significantly deeper than a regular tub, so you have more room to bathe. For some seniors, bathing can be a challenge, but with this additional space and an easy way to get in and out, your hygiene doesn’t have to suffer.
There are lots of ways you can customise your walk in the bathtub to suit your needs. From larger bariatric tubs to those with water jets, bubbles and lights, you can really personalise your bathing experience.
Drawbacks of a Walk-in Tub
Walk-in tubs are not a cost-effective option which could be considered a major drawback. You will need to think carefully about whether you can afford this option before making any commitments.
Another key issue with the walk-in tub is that you have to get into the bath before filling it up and then have to wait for the water to drain before you can get out. In the event of an emergency, this is less than ideal. Moreover, there is a risk of chills while waiting for the water to drain or a risk of scalding when filling the bath up so you must be careful.
You’ll also need to consider that, compared to a shower, a walk-in tub will use a lot more water.
A lot of shower cubicles have a ledge that you need to step over when getting in and out. For people with mobility issues, even a small ledge can pose a problem. But a walk-in shower does not have a ledge, so you can walk directly in or even roll a walker or wheelchair into the shower with ease.
There are some walk-in showers whose base is totally level with the bathroom floor while others have a small threshold ledge that is typically no higher than three inches.
Types of Walk-in Showers
Depending on your needs, there are various types of walk-in showers that can make your bathing experience a lot easier.
Floating Walk-In Shower
Floating walk-in showers have one glass panel fitted opposite the wall while the other sides are left open. This allows for much easier access.
Corner Walk-In Shower
If you have a smaller bathroom, a corner walk in shower is ideal. Fitted into the corner of the room, they do not take up as much space, but you can still benefit from getting in and out easily.
Recessed Walk-In Showers
A recessed walk-in shower features three walls with a glass panel at the front for the door. This door can be opened in either direction.
How Much Does a Walk-in Shower Cost?
The cost of a new walk-in shower could vary greatly according to factors like the materials used, the size of the shower, and any preparation work involved.
Generally speaking, you would expect to pay around $6000 for a new shower, but there are extremes at either end. When installing a new walk-in shower, you might pay as little as $3,500, or for something bigger and more luxurious, the cost could rise to $15,000.
Benefits of a Walk-in Shower
One of the primary benefits of a walk-in shower is safety. If you struggle to step over the ledge in a regular shower then there is a serious risk of falling. This is as good as eliminated when using a walk-in shower.
For wheelchair users, most standard showers aren’t accessible but with a walk-in shower, the user can wheel straight in and with a choice in sizes, you won’t feel cramped while washing. And speaking about space, having a walk-in shower can often make the most of the available space in your bathroom as well as making it feel much bigger.
If you need to use a shower seat then a walk-in shower is often more accommodating of this, owing to how large you can make them. Your choices in terms of size and shape are as good as infinite, so you can find something that fits in perfectly with your bathroom.
Drawbacks of a Walk-in Shower
Walk-in showers are excellent if you want to be able to get in and out with ease. But before you commit to this expensive bathroom renovation you should make sure that you are able to afford the associated costs.
You should also keep in mind that these showers have a very open design, so do not offer as much privacy as other types. Moreover, if you have children in the home, using a shower can often be more difficult than putting them into the tub.