Whether you’re in an older home that needs significant changes or are looking for ways to make your newer home more disabled-friendly, this guide to accessible bathing is for you.
Soaking in the bathtub is relaxing. Turn on soft music, dim the lights, and ease into the warm water. You close your eyes and for a few minutes, the worries of the world fade away.
When your bath is over, you step out of the tub and splat, you fall. Fortunately, this is not a major fall where bones are broken. However, it gets you thinking about what you would do in the future if the fall happened again.
You may even think it’s time to switch from a tub to a shower since you are aging. You should know that getting older does not mean you must give up your bathtub.
There are many ways to improve your current bathroom so that it is safer, but still allows you to enjoy bathing on your own. Some improvements are quick, easy and inexpensive.
Quick and Easy Improvements for Accessible Bathing
Some of the main problems you may be encountering in the bathroom include entering and exiting the bathtub, wet floors that become slippery and nothing to hold onto as you move through the room. Here are some products you can choose to solve these problems and make bathrooms safe.
Floors become slippery. Sometimes this is caused by water splashing onto the floor, the socks or shoes you wear, and even the temperature in the room.
Anti-slip strips, or floor treads, are a simple way to reduce how slippery a surface can be. A person with anti-slip tape simple places it in areas where they have noticed being more slippery than other spots.
This product can be placed in other areas of your home, too, like the kitchen and even outdoors. They cost less than $10 in most hardware stores and are very simple to install.
If you have been living without grab bars, then you know what it’s like to need something to hold onto and not have it. You may have even grabbed onto the vanity or toilet as an aid for maneuvering around the room.
Grab bars are essential for bathroom safety as you age and need more assistance. You can buy quality products for less than $50 and a handyman can install it for you. Once installed, grab bars can hold your entire body weight. This gives you both mental and physical security.
If you are like many others, there have been times where you have sat on the edge of the bathtub, or on the built-in shelf, to try and make bathing a little easier. This works but it’s not always the most comfortable. Bath chairs allow you to sit higher in the tub so it’s easier to perform some bathing tasks.
Bath chairs are waterproof, and they have anti-slid feet or suction cups to keep them in place. These bathroom safety product can even come with arm rests, seat backs and even cushioned seats if that’s what you prefer.
If you are having more difficulty getting in and out of the bathtub, you may choose to get a transfer bench. This product sits over the edge or side of your bathtub. It is long enough and easy enough to use, to allow you to move from one side of your tub to the other.
It allows you to easily lift your legs, and spin them around from side to side, without the weight of your body. Transfer benches can be purchased in basic models or with options like the bath chair. Cost, cushioned seating, arm rests, seat backs and the ability to hold over 300 pounds are examples of the options available.
Accessorizing Your Bathtub for Safety
Aside from the safety products listed above, there are additional things you can add to your bathtub that may cost a little bit more money but help you age at home.
Changing your old attached shower head to a handheld shower means you can easily wash yourself in your bathtub, evening while sitting in a chair. Handheld showers can cost around $100 and they may need the help of a handyman for installation.
However, benefits like choosing between a rain shower or water massage make it worthwhile. Plus, it allows you to keep your bathtub, but with much safer use.
Sliding Bench Chairs
If you thought the bench chair was remarkable, wait until you hear about the sliding bench chair. It is the upgraded version and offers you the mobility to slide on tracks or rails from a seated position outside your tub to a seated position on the inside.
There is no scooching and no friction because your body stays in the same place the whole time. This product provides safety so you can focus on enjoying your bath.
Products for When You Need More
These quick, easy and inexpensive products may not always be enough to avoid safety hazards in the bathroom. You may then want to take steps like modifying your bathtub to include cut outs that let you step right into your tub. Your tub can have a swinging door and a ramp for easy transitions.
Depending on your mobility and whether you are dealing with ailments, you may want to install a bath lift or a standard shower. You can also replace your current bathtub with a walk-in bathtub. Walk-in tubs are complete systems with luxuries that are pre-installed.
They usually have built in seats, grab bars, low thresholds, and easy to reach taps and shower heads. Walk-in tubs can even be made to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. Doors that swing both inward and outward make it easy for you to enter and exit.
Walk-in tubs can be adapted with luxuries like hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, and chromotherapy to provide a spa-like experience each time you bathe. Like most things, it’s best to start small and build up based on your individualized needs. Create the safe space that makes it easy for you to stay in control of your own bathing.