Some lucky people stay fit and healthy right to the end of their lives, but they are the fortunate ones and are few and far between. The simple fact is that as we age most of us start to suffer from some sorts of disability. Arthritis is very common among the elderly and is basically the result of a lifetime of wear and tear. As we age, the cartilage between the bone joints wears down and it gets to a point where the bones are rubbing against each other. This causes pain and stiffness in joints and creates difficulty standing up, sitting down, walking, or even just standing still.
As a result, things that we used to do when we were younger, such as hop over the side of the bath, are no longer possible. It may still be possible to get into a standard bath, but certainly not “hop” into it, and we may be in pain when doing so. With the elderly there is also the risk of slipping on a wet bathroom floor, or missing one’s grip on the side of the bath and falling when getting in or out.
Manufacturers like Wibtrac have come to the rescue of the elderly, who still need to have a bath along with everyone else, with a range of specially designed baths that cater for those who are not so nimble as they once were. Special bathtubs for the elderly are of a walk-in type which has a door in the side of the bath that opens so that instead of having to step over the side of the bath there is merely a small step of perhaps four inches high.
Do They Leak?
One of the questions often asked about walk-in baths is whether they are prone to leaking. The answer is quite simply that, provided the installation is carried out correctly, they will not leak. In fact, most manufacturers give a guarantee that they will not leak provided they are not abused. One should never sit or lean on the walk-in door because that could damage the hinges, and the door should be left open when not in use in order to preserve the seal, in the same way that you leave the door of a front-loading washing machine open. Provided those two points are noted, the door will not leak and will give many years of service.
There are three main types of walk-in baths. The first looks exactly the same as an ordinary bath but with a door in the side. Such a bath may be fitted with a power lift seat to help with sitting down in the bath and getting up again.
The second type of walk-in bath is a full-length shower bath which is designed so that the user can have both a bath and a shower.
The third type of walk-in bath is shorter and has a moulded seat inside so that you can sit up inside the bath: this also makes it easier to reach the taps and the plug and to get up and sit down, although the obvious disadvantage is that you cannot lie down and stretch out full length in the water. This type of bath is popular in Japan where it is known as ofuro.
Bathtubs for the elderly may be made of fibreglass, cast iron enamelled, steel, or acrylic. One consideration that is worth taking into account is the texture of the bathtub. An ordinary enamelled, acrylic, or fibreglass finish could still lead to the possibility of an elderly person slipping when getting in or out, so it may be worth looking for a bathtub that has an anti-slip textured base. If this is not available it is possible to buy an anti-slip spray for extra safety or use a textured mat.