When your parents begin to age, it’s natural to want to do everything you can to keep them safe at home for as long as possible. As the mobility of your loved ones becomes more restricted, you may begin to worry about falls. Rightfully so, as one in four Americans over the age of 65 fall each year, according to the National Council on Aging.
If you’re considering ways to help your parents age at home or getting ready to move them into your home, you are probably looking for ways to make the house safer. The bathroom is a common place to start. Learn more about installing a walk-in tub and how it can make your or your parents’ home safer as they age.
A walk-in bathtub is a type of tub that has a low threshold and watertight door. This allows you to step over the low edge and close the door for bathing. After the bath, the user drains the water from the tub and opens the door to step out. The lower threshold makes getting in and out of the tub much easier and safer, much like a curbless shower.
Walk-in bathtubs, such as the Safe Step walk-in tub, feature a variety of health and safety benefits for seniors. If you’re thinking about adding in a walk-in bath to your home or your parents’ home, consider these important impacts on health and safety.
Hydrotherapy, or the use of water to help with physical rehabilitation, has been used since Ancient Greece. Walk-in tubs provide many health benefits of hydrotherapy for seniors with a spa-like experience right at home. Check out some of the most important health benefits of a walk-in tub:
Safety is one of the main reasons senior citizens choose to install a walk-in bathtub in their bathrooms. As we age, our mobility will often begin to decline, even with following a simple exercise routine. Declining mobility is one reason falls are more common in seniors than other adults. A walk-in tub can help you feel more secure when getting in and out of the tub by including several safety features.
Apart from these benefits, there are a few downsides to installing a walk-in tub in your home, including:
Overall, a walk-in tub can be worth it for the peace of mind that comes with increased safety. Whether you’re installing the tub in your home for your aging parents or they’re aging at home and need more mobility options, a walk-in bathtub can help seniors avoid falls. Before you purchase a walk-in tub, however, consider these final notes:
Installing a walk-in tub in your home or your parents’ home can quickly add up. Most generic tubs without hydrotherapy jets can range from $2,000–$5,000. Additional health and safety features will also increase the cost. What’s more, these prices don’t include the cost of installation. The chart below outlines some of the common types of walk-in tubs and their cost.
|Type of Tub||Cost Range|
|Walk-in tub with soaking capabilities (basic walk-in tub)||$2,000–$5,000|
|Walk-in tub with shower enclosure||$2,500–$6,000|
|Tubs with hydrotherapy jets or features||$5,000–$7,000|
|Bariatric tubs or handicap accessible tubs||$5,000–$10,000|
Generally, walk-in tubs aren’t tax deductible. However, if a walk-in tub is purchased for medical safety reasons, it can be deducted at tax time. If you’re caring for your senior parents in your home and a walk-in tub is deemed a medical necessity for safety, you may be able to deduct the cost from your taxes.
To be declared a medical expense, you or your parents must get a prescription from your doctor stating that it is a medical necessity for your safety. This is the only way to be reimbursed for your walk-in tub purchase.
Medicare doesn’t consider walk-in tubs to be durable medical equipment (DME), or medical devices that are ordered by your doctor for extended use. This means that you won’t be able to reduce the cost of your walk-in tub using Medicare coverage.
However, in extreme cases, Medicare may cover a portion of a walk-in tub purchase. These circumstances are usually reserved for people suffering from serious spine injuries. Some Medicare plans will cover a portion of the tub purchase as reimbursement if you can provide extensive details on the medical necessity of the tub. This reimbursement is given after you have paid for the purchase and installation of the bathtub.
In addition to the cost to purchase the tub, walk-in tubs require a lengthy installation process. Installing a simple walk-in soaking tub typically takes between 6–8 hours, much like a normal bathtub installation. Depending on the type of tub you install, your costs can greatly increase due to electricity needs or plumbing upgrades.
The size, shape, and added features of your tub influence how much it costs to install. The normal hourly rate for technicians to install a bathtub is $45–$65 an hour, with an average installation cost around $700. Tubs with added hydrotherapy elements can cost upwards of $1,500. This covers the cost of setting up the motor safely and connecting the necessary electrical wiring.
Other costs that can add to the total price of installation include:
When choosing which manufacturer to purchase a walk-in tub from, take the time to ask these important questions: