Combining Accessible Bathing Solutions and Conversion Kits

May 05, 2016

On average, 80% of bathroom accidents occur from falls in the bathtub due to the lack of safety features present in outdated, impersonal, and traditional designs. This is why accessible bathtubs and bathtub conversions are taking more of a hold on senior American homes than ever before. More and more seniors need their home environments changed to better meet their mobility challenges

In this article, we're going to cover a few sample bathtub conversions that enhanced the quality of life for senior homeowners. 

There are qualities of accessibility that you need to consider when modifying your bathtub, these include:

  • Safety upgrades. 
  • Assistive bathtub conversions. 
  • Assistive bathtub enhancements.
  • Their combinations.
  • Your showering/bathing needs.
  • The installation costs involved with the makeover.

Take a moment and think about the features that make ready-made accessible bathtubs so safe: they have a low-threshold entrance, wheelchair accessibility, leak-proof doors, safety bars, and anti-slip floors and seats. The way to cover these safety requirements with your current bathtub is by the means achieved with bathtub conversions and enhancements. Let us make the attempt to meet all the important safety points below.

walk in tub installed with or without a watertight sealable door

Bathtub Conversions

The point of converting a bathtub for seniors is to get a final product that emulates a walk-in bathtub as much as possible. This is applicable in terms of the qualities of accessibility aforementioned above. The safety features that can be achieved with conversion kits are the low step-in height, wheelchair accessibility, and watertight doors. This is done by the combination of a few modifications: (1) Taking away a rectangular portion of the current bathtub's wall to make way for an opening insert which would reduce the bathtub's entrance threshold by 9-12", (2) installing a watertight door insert in the opening, and (3) adding a ramp at the mouth of the opening for wheelchair-bound users.

The conversion kits you need for such a project are offered by companies like AmeriGlide and Safety Bath.

The final result checks three of the safety goals relating to wheelchair accessibility, leak-proof doors, and low-threshold entry. The rest is up to the enhancements and upgrades to turn the current bathtub into a completely hazard-free environment. For more details on bathtub conversion kits, click here.

Bathtub Enhancements

So far we've checked three items from our safety requirements. The two that yet need to be met are anti-slip floors, anti-slip seats, and safety bars. 

Safety bars and rails: Not all safety bars that come built-in are easy to reach for everyone. If you want to avoid drilling holes in your bathroom walls, you can always mount medical-style safety rails (~$30) to the rim of your bathtub that's close enough to your transfer bench, transfer seat, power seat, etc. On the other hand, if you don't mind wall mounted safety bars, the benefit is you can attach them where you need them, and they cost about the same.

Anti-slip floors: Making your bathtub floor slip-resistant is very simple and cheap. Non-slip shower treatment kits can be found in many hardware stores like Home Depot and others for around $25, and their effects are long-lasting. Check!

This leaves us with the bathtub seat. The variety is very extensive; there's something for everyone with any need.

Transfer benches and seats: There are significantly more affordable alternatives to bath lift chairs. Transfer benches and seats take up less space, allow for lateral seat transfer, and are easy to install but they fall short if you need to be able to soak since they cannot be leveled.

Bath lift chairs

Bath lift chairs: If soaking in the bathtub is important to you, you will need soak-friendly chairs/seats that can lift you in and out of the tub effortlessly. A few contenders include bath lifts ($500-$1,000), mobile seats ($2,800-5,000), and power seats ($700-$2,000). Bath lifts and mobile seats are very similar in that they are both able to lift you in and out, they are battery-operated, they don't require a door insert, and they both get the job done when you need a soak. They differ in that the bath lift can only be accessed by laterally transferring yourself from seat to seat while the mobile seat has more directional controls and is able to lift you from outside to the inside of the bathtub effortlessly. Adversely, the power seat does require a walk-in door since it doesn't support lateral access. The power seat is more ideal for seniors that don't face difficulty when walking.

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