Walk in Tub
As we get older sometimes things that used to be simple, like climbing into the shower, can become difficult. If you or a loved one is experiencing decreased mobility and can no longer use a standard shower or tub, you may want to consider investing in a walk-in tub.
What is a Walk-In Tub?
Chances are you’ve seen commercials on television for walk-in tubs. These tubs allow easier access than your traditional shower. Standard tubs can be twenty inches or higher from the bathroom floor. This can be problematic for those with mobility or balance issues because it can be difficult for them get in.
A walk-in tub has a convenient door on the side which opens and closes so that a person can essentially walk right into the tub. The walk-in doors are sealed so that they are watertight to prevent them from leaking. They also typically come in right-hand and left-hand configurations making it easy for anyone to use.
Walk-in tubs are usually equipped with a chair-height seat as well as handle bars so that a person can sit and move about the tub safely. There is also a non-skid floor that comes with it. You can add features to your tub like a whirlpool or Jacuzzi option which provides air bubbles right to your bath. Walk-in tubs are usually deeper than your typical tub so they allow people to immerse more deeply and relax for longer.
If you want to be able to shower as well as bathe, many walk-in tubs can be fitted with an extendable showerhead. This allows people to sit down on the seat in the tub and use the showerhead to clean themselves. Walk-in tubs usually require professional installation.
Why Do I Need a Walk-In Tub?
Besides making it easier to bathe, there are other reasons to consider adding a walk-in tub to your bathroom.
- Hydrotherapy. Whether you decide to add the whirlpool option or not, simply sitting in a tub full of warm water has its benefits. Warm water can reduce muscle pains and also release endorphins to make people feel good.
- Avoid falls or slips. Climbing into a standard tub poses a fall risk for many with mobility issues. Research from the CDC shows that the cost of a hospital stay due to a slip or fall can be more than $30,000. If you can avoid a slip or fall you also avoid this astronomical cost.
- Removes need for a sliding shower door. On the same line of thought as avoiding falls or slips, removing a sliding shower door also removes the risk of someone leaning on it for support. They were not made to support body weight. Relying on a sliding shower door for balance can cause serious injury.
- May increase house value. Installing a walk-in tub could raise the value of your home, especially if you live in a retirement community.
What Do Walk-in Tubs Cost?
As with anything else, the brand and any extra bells and whistles you choose will play a factor. Expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to as much as $10,000 to have a walk-in tub installed.
Will Insurance Pay for a Walk-in Tub?
In most cases, a walk-in tub is not considered a piece of durable medical equipment by Medicare, so it is not a covered item. In some rare cases, Medicare may reimburse for part of the cost, but the tub needs to be purchased and installed first.
If a person qualifies for Medicaid (which is determined on a state-by-state basis), there is a chance the walk-in tub may be covered. But, that is something you need to look into since rules and regulations vary.
Veterans’ benefits plans may also pay for some walk-in tubs. There are various financial assistance options Veterans’ benefits plans may offer. As with Medicaid, it’s best to check on an individual basis.
Another option to investigate is a grant offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that helps elderly people make changes to their home so that they can age in place. It’s something definitely worth looking into if you think you will have to pay for a walk-in tub out-of-pocket.
If a walk-in tub is purchased for a medical safety reasons, it can be considered a medical expense and can be deducted at tax time. If you are caring for someone in your home and are adding a walk-in tub, you may also be able to claim the expense.
If you are looking for any type of reimbursement for a walk-in tub, you need to get a written prescription from your doctor stating that it is medically necessary. As with any medical need, always consult your doctor to discuss whether a walk-in tub is right for you. It is an expensive investment so you want to be sure it is best suited for you before investing the money.