Bathtub type for aging in home

cr8joyJune 25, 2013

We are in the design process of our retirement home. Although we are in great shape now, I am trying to plan for the future. I love the looks of a freestanding tub but think that an undermount tub with a surround would be easier to navigate as we get older...Does anyone have insight on which style would be best?

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A tub with a surround would be better, especially if it has a non slip surface - tile can be very slippery, for instance.

But many aging experts would tell you that a walk in shower with a seat and grab bar/s is better than a tub. It's *much* easier to use if you rely on a walker and/or cane, for instance. A tub, even if well designed, isn't as safe as a shower.

Don't forget a grab bar by the toilet and a raised toilet. Yes you can do a raised toilet seat, but those seem kind of gross.

We are doing this now - building our retirement home with accessible features. My sports medicine doc says we are very wise to be doing this. Retrofitting a house to make it accessible isn't easy.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 8:50AM
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Tubs aren't age in place friendly without a transfer bench, and potentially a hoist, depending on the person and their caregiver's physical abilities. A large shower can accommodate an after market bench and hand held hose easily, especially if you use blocking behind the whole structure to be able to attach grab bars wherever needed.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 9:22AM
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We had a clawfoot tub and it was quite difficult for me to use. It was standalone and the walls weren't close enough for me to install a bar. I am fairly healthy but have some problems with balance.
The problem with a free standing tub is not getting in (for most of us) but is getting out when you are wet and higher up usually and needing to step down. Not something that felt safe at all though I had no accidents.
We are having a small tub installed now that will be in an alcove with a grab bar on each wall. Though in our main hall bath, we just finished we had a curbless shower put in with a bench. Shower footprint is 5X5 and has a 36 inch doorway (without a door) -- it is wheelchair accessible. We love it so much and even more when we think it will help us stay in our house a little longer before needing assisted living in a facility (we hope).
Also, FYI - in my research, I have learned that younger people tend to use the curbless showers more because of broken limbs or accident rehabilitation and also, because they provide a wonderful exhilarating bathing experience.
p.s. don't forget to make the doorway to the room (not just to the tub/shower) wide - 36 inches is a good thing to aim for if you can but if not, at least try to widen it as much as possible for your configuration.

This post was edited by elphaba on Tue, Jun 25, 13 at 12:38

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 12:20PM
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By the way - we are midlife and not officially close to being the "age" where we should expect to need accessible features. But I have bad knees, have spent a fair amount of time on crutches over the years. As soon as we move into our new house I'll be going for a total knee replacement. So - what we are doing with accessibility will have immediate and practical use for me. Also, we have seen our aging parents and have learned from what they have needed in their home.

While I was recovering from my last big knee operation I was nonweightbearing for several months. We had a nonaccessible shower and a bathtub. Climbing out of that tub while I was wet, etc. was such a challenge that I decided in the future I would do sponge baths unless I had an accessible shower. The tub was too risky. I was relatively young and generally healthy at the time; I would not want to risk a tub at a time when I might be a bit infirm. The walk in shower with bench and shower head on a bar that we are planning will immediately be very valuable to me.

This post was edited by gladys1924 on Tue, Jun 25, 13 at 15:12

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 2:45PM
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Pat Boone is pushing the safe step walk in tub. This would seem like a good option,as you are just stepping over a small curb, and sitting down in like a chair.

Here is a link that might be useful: walkin tub

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 3:06PM
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I agree with a shower with a low threshold or no threshold at all as the best option for bathing as you age. There are actually quite a few common chronic health conditions where its actually recommended that you not bathe in a tub of warm/hot water. If you can get by without a door on the shower, it makes it so much easier to navigate as well as maintain (no glass to scrub).

Walk-in tubs are a definite option. There is a manufacturer of these tubs in the next town over from where we live. Many of the pros are quite obvious. Three significant cons that have been mentioned in previous threads to consider are that you have to wait for all the water to drain out before you can exit the tub--you will be cold while you wait, what happens if the seal fails or the door didn't close quite all the way, & cleaning the underside of the door could be challenging.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 9:31AM
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An autoimmune condition called Inflammatory Myopathy or Myositis has robbed the strength of my quads. It's very difficult for me to step up even the slightest rise or to get up from the floor.

I use a Bellavita Auto Bath Lifter to get in and out of the bathtub--chosen because it has the highest seat at about 18 inches. Do a search on "bath lift" and you'll find lots of brands and videos showing a lift in action.

I looked at the walk-in tubs for our master suite/bath addition but decided that a normal size tub is better for me. I prefer to lie down in the water (at 5'2" easier for me than many others). So we did an undermount Sanijet tub with a granite surround wide enough to sit on to transfer to the bath lift. Works like a dream.

As someone above mentioned, you must sit in the tub until all the water has drained away before opening the door. The step-up to get in is too much for my lack of quad strength. Plus, these tubs are very heavy when full of water and possibly require a reinforced floor unless installed on a slab.

We built a separate shower with no curb, just a center drain. All the tile in the room imperceptibly slopes toward that drain. With a simple shower curtain cleanup is easy. We never have a problem with water on the floor outside the shower.

I hadn't taken a bath in years but now enjoy the tub several times a week. The bath lift makes it possible.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 2:40AM
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Hi sierrahh - How are you liking your Sanijet? Do you find the jets strong or not? I am also wondering how loud it is. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 5:56PM
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with non-slip bathtub is OK.You can think about using walk-in bathtubs.

Here is a link that might be useful: hcsbath

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 10:58AM
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A relative, who loved baths, had a walk in bath installed as she lacked both strength. She used it only twice. Having to sit in it to empty was just too miserable for her even with a well heated room and wrapping her in a towel as it emptied.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 3:51PM
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