How to Choose a Walk in Tub

A walk in tub which may also be referred to as a handicap bathtub provides essential safety and security in bathing environments for the elderly or the handicapped.

This product offers added safety and security while bathing in a standing or sitting position in a shower stall. Handicap-accessible shower stalls and accessories can help provide greater independence and freedom to individuals in a variety of home-based care scenarios.

Benefits of a Safety Tub

A walk in tub offers greater functional aspects as well as safety for seniors and the handicapped. Some of the most common benefits of a walk in tub include but are not limited to:

  • Built-in seating, which may be permanent or in a fold-up and fold-down selection.
  • Anti-slip flooring for greater stability and safety for both the elderly and their caregivers.
  • Hand held shower heads.
  • Shower valves that offer anti-scalding temperature controls.
  • Grab bars that may be placed throughout the shower enclosure and at different heights, depending on need
  • Some walk in tub models offer power-operated seats or swivel chairs that help lift seniors or the handicapped into and out of the shower enclosure.

Walk in tub or walk in bath models are designed as either flush-to-ground or offer low thresholds that help control water flow, spillage, and prevent falls. Shower ramps as well as shower wheelchairs or shower chairs may also facilitate bathing and personal hygiene care that can be customized for specific needs.

Stalls are designed to offer convenience and comfort to users. Low shower heads and fixtures can be customized to specific height requirements, and offer easy to use function for individuals with limited range of motion and strength.

Barrier free as well as ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant and accessible showers come in a variety of styles, models, colors and designs.

What To Look For

When considering installing a handicap shower in a home environment, make sure that it is ADA (American Disabilities Act)-approved. Handicap showers offer a variety of benefits and ease of use and access to individuals with stability problems, those who are wheelchair bound, or those with balance or strength issues.

A handicap shower offers level ground access to the shower stall without having to navigate lips or curb type barriers. A handicap shower should be equipped with a grab bar, as well as a bench that may be pulled down or adapted according to height requirements.

A handicap shower should also be wheelchair accessible, or shower chair accessible in either home-based or assisted living environments.

Handicap showers should also be equipped with easily reachable and accessible shower knobs and accessories that encourage independent bathing for individuals.

A handicap shower model drain to the left or the right, and come in a variety of sections for easy installation and remodeling if necessary. Some models come with the shower door, although most utilize a traditional shower curtain.

Textured floors offer firmer support for both senior, handicapped individual or caregiver.

Most handicap showers are available in multi-piece or one-unit construction that can be installed onto current sub-flooring. Look for models that offer the greatest comfort, space and capabilities for current as well as potential future needs.

Building Considerations

Before installing a wheelchair accessible home modification such as a handicap shower, contact your local building department to make sure of specifications and regulations regarding permits and compliance to building, electric and plumbing codes in your area.

Consider the need for remodeling the entire bathroom in some situations, which may include but isn't limited to installing wider doorways from traditional 24-inch to 32-inch widths that will easily accommodate wheelchairs and shower chairs for easier transport from bedroom to bathroom.

Determine the maximum size of a walk in tub based on current size and space in the bathroom, and also determine whether or not the shower will need to be assembled inside the bathroom, or may be built in another location and then installed in the bathroom when completed.

Before choosing any walk in tub of model or style, determine the current and future needs of the individual and plan ahead in regard to remodeling, permits, and tax benefits of installing ADA-compliant modifications in your home.

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