Aging in place at home and living as independently as possible is a goal of most seniors. Unfortunately, one of the primary reasons older adults leave their homes for assisted living facilities is because of mobility issues that make it difficult if not impossible for them to maintain proper daily hygiene habits.
Hospital emergency room statistics on slip-and-fall injuries indicate that most accidents occur in the bathroom, making it the most dangerous room in the home. For seniors dealing with certain illnesses or mobility issues, the bathroom is an especially precarious place because of slippery floors as well as bathtubs and showers that are difficult to get into and out of when bathing.
Fortunately, there are ways to make bathrooms safer and more accessible to older adults. One option thats especially popular today is the walk-in tub. Walk-in bathtubs allow seniors to enter and exit from ground level instead of having to lift their feet up and over the tub wall, thus chancing a slip and fall accident. A door built into the tub opens easily and seniors can get into it and out with no or limited assistance. Once inside, the door is closed, and a seal prevents water from escaping onto the bathroom floor.
Walk-in bathtubs come with many options including internal water jets that can provide hydrotherapy benefits. The tub floor is also treated with non-slip materials that make it much safer to use than conventional bathtubs. Faucets and other water controls are all within easy arm reach so a senior never has to risk standing, which increases the likelihood of an accident.
For senior that prefer showers over bathtubs, contractors can modify a bathroom rather inexpensively to accommodate easy entry and exit, even with wheelchairs. The water controls on the shower wall can be lowered so that someone sitting down in a chair of any type can easily set and regulate the desired water flow and temperature. An added safety measure is an additional floor drain in the bathroom to keep the area outside the shower stall dry and sanitary.
Many seniors are living on fixed incomes and think that bathtub or shower modifications are beyond their financial reach. Its a valid concern. Some high end tubs with all the bells and whistles can cost many thousands of dollars, putting them out of the financial reach of many older adults. If you shop around and get competitive bids from reputable bathroom remodelers, its likely that you will find an affordable solution that allows the senior in your family to continue to live at home independently and safely.
The bottom line every family should consider is that its much cheaper to invest in remodeling the bathroom than to have your loved one leave the home for a much more costly assisted living facility. Bathroom modification costs are one-time charges while assisted living facility expenses reoccur monthly. Walk-in tubs and floor level shower stalls typically add value to a home rather than diminish it, so in the long run, remodeling is a smart solution and a wise home investment.
If you are a senior or family member concerned about bathroom safety, do your homework before purchasing a new walk-in tub or floor level shower stall. Read contractor reviews before requesting a bid and when you are ready to choose one, ask for customer references and call the homeowners to get their feedback on how the project worked out for them before, during and after construction began so there are no surprises when your remodeling works commences.
The cost of a senior friendly walk-in tub or more accessible shower stall may cause sticker shock initially, but the pain and suffering from a serious bathroom slip-and-fall injury is a price no older adult should pay.