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Bath adaptations for the elderly

How a walk-in bathtub can improve bathroom safety


The bottom line

  • As seniors choose to age in place, one particular area for concern is the bathroom.
  • Among the main bathroom adaptations that make a home safer, walk-in bathtubs provide comfort and safety features that allow seniors to bathe independently for longer, benefitting their health and overall wellbeing.


Ireland’s population is ageing, which means new challenges are arising across a range of sectors. With the number of people aged 65 and over projected to increase by between 58 and 63 per cent, the country faces an astronomical demand for both residential long-term care places for the elderly and home care services. As a result, more and more seniors are choosing to age in their very own homes but may not have realised the implications of doing so.

According to an HSE report, 30%, or approximately 130,000 people, aged 65 and over fall each year in Ireland, with devastating, potentially lasting, health consequences arising as a result for a considerable number of these seniors. While steps can be made to reduce falls around a home, several adaptations can also be made to meet seniors’ changing needs.

Just as baby gates and foam padding help prepare a home for a new family member, and extensions, reductions and conversions are made at other times throughout a family’s development, seniors now face a new phase, with particular home adaptations being required as a result. Read on to find out more about what can be done to help seniors age in place safely, providing their families with the complete peace of mind of knowing they’re secure in their own homes.

Why bathroom adaptations need to be made for seniors

As we age, it’s only natural that we start facing more difficulty in our activities of daily living. From obesity to reduced mobility and even difficulties encountered due to specific age-related illnesses, things that were once second nature become challenging. We may well find parts of our homes become hazards rather than helping in our daily tasks.

One of these areas is bathrooms – the wet surfaces, slippery floors and often hard-to-reach shelves posing a particular hazard to seniors as they feel their mobility decreasing. From having to lift legs over the tub to the precarious balancing needed to get out again, bathrooms are likely to cause stress levels to rise for seniors and their families alike as they continue to age in place, threatening their safety and therefore independence.

The solution? Adapting bathrooms to make them safer and more accessible, moulding them to the new needs and requirements of a house’s residents, allowing them to be kept safer and active for that much longer. But what kinds of adaptations can be made, and what are the benefits?

What is a walk-in bathtub?

Walk-in bathtubs are one of the major home adaptations available to make a bathroom more senior-friendly. Allowing seniors to bathe in comfort, walk-in bathtubs are fitted with a door, which can simply be swung open so that they can step into the bath without having to lift their legs over the side. However, walk-in bathtubs also come with several other features:

  • A seat, so that seniors can sit comfortably while in the bath, saving them from having to lower themselves down or stretch their legs out straight along the bottom.
  • The option of a wider seat for extra comfort.
  • A heated backrest to keep their entire body warm as they soak.
  • Whirlpool jets to massage their spine, calves and feet to relieve pain and ease sore muscles.

In addition to the extra comfort features of a tub specifically designed for seniors, these tubs ensure seniors are kept safe while they bathe. Ensuring getting in and out of the tub is not a stress factor in their daily lives also means they can keep up with hygiene practices independently, something they may otherwise struggle with. Though maintaining physical health is essential at all ages, our immune system deteriorates with age, meaning that stopping the spread of viruses and bacteria through washing becomes all the more important the older we are.

How walk-in bathroom solutions improve safety

As well as ensuring seniors can bathe alone and keep up their physical health, bathing independently is also a massive contributor to a positive self-image, boosting confidence as seniors can look after themselves for longer without any outside help. Ensuring they are able to do so requires them to be as safe as possible, which is why several extra safety features are added to walk-in bathtubs in addition to their characteristic hinged doors:

  • Low steps to minimise trips as people make their way into the tub.
  • Handrails for extra support getting in and out of the tub and to help users lower themselves onto the seat.
  • Slip resistance to minimise the risk of falls.
  • A control panel, making it super easy to control from a comfortable, seated position with no need to bend or lean over hot taps.

Peace of mind for the entire family

With many seniors living independently from their other family members, concerns about their safety as their age start to play on their relatives’ minds. The bathroom being a particularly hazardous part of any home, it’s a great place to start focusing attention when bringing up the delicate matter of safety at home respectfully and compassionately. While seniors may feel embarrassed or resentful of their changing needs, having an open, honest conversation in which the feelings of everyone involved are aired is a great way to get the wheels in motion to future-proofing a senior’s home needs before they find their health, safety or confidence compromised by a fall or incident in their own home.

The importance of home adaptations to helping seniors age in place

Though it may not always be easy to accept that our bodies and needs change as we age, it’s essential that seniors approach the new phase of life they find themselves in like they would any other – by making the changes necessary to accommodate them, keeping them safer and healthier for longer.

However big or small, home adaptations allow seniors to regain power over their mobility, improving their home living experience and future-proofing their preferred way of life for that much longer. Interested in other home adaptations that could be made to keep seniors safer? Click here.

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