Home Medical Equipment

The Pros and Cons of Walk-in Tubs for Seniors

Walk-in bathtubs make bathing safer and more convenient for people who struggle to use a standard bathtub. A low threshold and watertight door make it easier to step into and out of the tub, reducing the risk of dangerous falls. In addition, modern walk-in tubs often include a wide range of other safety and treatment options, including support rails, anti-scalding devices, hydrotherapy features, and more. 

But walk-in tubs aren’t suitable for everyone. To help you decide whether to invest in a walk-in tub, we’ve compiled this list of walk-in tub pros and cons. 

The Benefits of Walk-in Bathtubs

Anyone can benefit from a modern walk-in bathtub’s features, but they are particularly useful for seniors and others with mobility and strength issues. Let’s look at the two main advantages of walk-in bathtubs for elderly, chronically ill, and disabled people. 

Walk-in Tub Safety

Every year, thousands of seniors slip and fall while getting into and out of their bath. The standard high-sided doorless tub is a substantial safety risk for people with reduced mobility. Walk-in tubs remove most of that risk. They aren’t perfect from a safety standpoint, as we’ll discuss in a moment, but the low step and wide door make it easy to bathe without excessive physical exertion. 

Walk-in Tubs and Your Health

Personal hygiene is an integral part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However,  physical challenges can discourage older people from bathing thoroughly or frequently. The fear of tripping and injury—or even embarrassment—may lead to reduced hygiene during periods of physical infirmity. Because walk-in tubs lessen the risk, seniors are more likely to feel confident they can safely get into and out of the bath. 

Modern Bathtub Features

Walk-in tubs are available with a wide range of designs, from those that mimic the standard bathtub to tubs with seats, upright tubs, bariatric, and even two-person tubs. On more up-market tubs, you can also expect to find water and air jets, premium materials, remote controls, a built-in hand shower, heated backrests, and more. 

The Disadvantages of Walk-in Bathtubs

Walk-in bathtubs make bathing a safe and enjoyable experience, but that doesn’t make them right for everyone. Before buying, you should be aware of the potential drawbacks. 

Walk-in Tub Costs

Walk-in tubs tend to be more expensive than standard tubs. You can buy a low-end standard tub for a few hundred dollars, but you should expect to pay well over $1000 for an entry-level walk-in. The cost goes up from there, with premium bathtubs with all the bells and whistles costing as much as $20,000. 

Additionally, walk-in bathtubs are more complex to install. Their size and shape may require a bathroom remodel, and your heating and plumbing system may need to be upgraded.  To top it all off, none of this is covered by Medicare. If you want a walk-in tub, you can expect to pay the full cost of the tub and its installation. 


Convenience and Fill Time

Walk-in tubs fill with you in them. You step in, close the door behind you, and then turn on the water. Unfortunately, you can’t fill the tub and then get in. You also have to wait for the tub to drain before you get out. Depending on the size of the tub, filling and draining may take several minutes, which means there’s a lot of waiting around compared to a standard bathtub or a walk-in shower. 

Increased Water Consumption

Walk-in tubs may consume significantly more water. Whether this is an issue depends on the tub’s design, but many walk-in tubs are deeper than a standard bathtub. They may not be as long or wide, but the increased depth leads to a greater water volume than a traditional bathtub. If water consumption is a concern, be sure to check the tub’s volume before you buy. 

Walk-in Tub Safety and Caregiver Convenience

Although walk-in tubs improve safety and reduce risk in many scenarios, that isn’t always the case. Individuals with severely limited mobility and strength may struggle to operate the bathtub’s taps and drain, and if the tub isn’t drained, the door can’t be opened. Additionally, if an older person needs assistance to bathe, caregivers may prefer a shower or a standard bathtub to a much deeper walk-in tub. 

Walk-in tubs and home hospital beds can be life-changing for seniors and people with chronic illnesses. We’ve focused on bathing and walk-in tubs here, but if you’d like to learn more about how home hospital beds enhance safety, comfort, and convenience, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our adjustable bed experts. 


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About Transfer Master

Transfer Master has built electric adjustable hospital beds for the home and medical facility since 1993. We started with a simple goal that hospital beds should allow wheelchair users to transfer independently in and out of bed. Thirty years later, our customers are still at the center of everything we do. You’ll feel the difference.